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Perspective

5 Minutes with Sarah Ferrall,
Communications Manager at NHO
14.03.24

Discover the perspective of Sarah Ferrall, Communications Consultant at NHO, who combines tenacity, design knowledge and over a decade of global communications management in London to lend valuable expertise in brand strategy, messaging, and communications. Sarah reflects on the diversity of her role and the value of collaboration and trust, while encouraging brands to explore the road less travelled.

Q: Can you describe a day in your role as Communications Manager at NHO?

A: My days are incredibly varied, which makes the role so interesting and enjoyable. I start most days by catching up on emails, checking in on the latest industry news, and scanning the daily paper headlines. It’s important keep abreast of the latest major stories and trends across our industry but also, more generally, across the sectors that touch our work, such as property and finance, and more creative industries from tech to fashion.

As NHO’s Communications Manager, I work across our full client portfolio, so I take time each day to check-in with each Communications Consultant on our current projects or initiatives, talk through our strategy, and align on next steps. Day to day tasks vary dramatically – I might be joining calls or meetings with our clients, meeting with an editor, heading to an event or exhibition, or spending time with the team to plan an exciting project launch or event that one of our client’s is hosting. I also get the opportunity to work closely with NHO’s directors on business development, so on any given day I might be joining a meeting with a potential new client or working through a proposal.

‘Pavilion of Australia’ by Denton Corker Marshall, Giardini della Biennale, Venice, 2015.
Photograph by Sarah Ferrall.

‘Savage’ series by Jay Sae Jung Oh presented by Salon 94 Gallery, Design Miami, 2020.
Photograph by Sarah Ferrall.

Q: What is one of your career highlights and how has it enhanced your value of design?

A: Living and working in the UK for many years, I was extremely fortunate to travel to some of the world’s most exciting design events, including regular visits to Milan Design Week, Maison et Objet in Paris, Venice Biennale, Stockholm Design Week, Art Basel, Design Miami and Design Shanghai – each shaping my understanding of design. I was exposed to some of the world’s most established designers showcasing their expertise, and the innovative ideas and design concepts that propel our industry forward.

Having the opportunity to experience design across the world has given me a great appreciation for how our industry is inextricably connected to many other sectors. Design plays a critical role in our everyday – from housing to healthcare to how we protect the environment. It also impacts and influences industries like fashion and technology. It’s always exciting to see new collaborations between disciplines come to the foreground, presenting new ideas and visions for the future.

Hermès installation, Milan Design Week 2022.
Photograph by Sarah Ferrall.

Hermès installation, Milan Design Week 2022.
Photograph by Sarah Ferrall.

“Having the opportunity to experience design across the world has given me a great appreciation for how our industry is inextricably connected to many other sectors. Design plays a critical role in our everyday – from housing to healthcare to how we protect the environment.” – Sarah Ferrall

Q: How does collaboration, amongst NHO’s communications professionals and their clients, seed innovative communications strategies?

A: Whenever we work with a brand or business, we see ourselves as an extension of their internal team, rather than consultants that sit on the outside looking in. We develop the most effective strategies when we work closely with our clients, and can clearly understand the overall brand objectives and the factors that impact the day to day running of the business. Conversely, if we are kept at arm’s length, it makes it hard for us to ‘get in the weeds,’ to develop and drive a strategy that will have a strong impact. The most trusting working relationships breed the most creativity and innovation. Authentic connection with a brand fosters a blue sky approach, revealing new opportunities to share the brand’s message with their audience.

Q: Reflecting on your passion for helping brands realise their ambitions, can you share any advice or words of wisdom?

A: Be brave! The design industry and the media landscape are evolving so quickly that it can be detrimental to repeat the same strategies if you want to see growth or a change in brand position. Have confidence that you know your brand and audience well enough that new ideas, when shaped around clear objectives, can be impactful. And don’t be discouraged when you take a leap of faith, and things don’t pan out quite as you planned. We do our best learning in the face of unexpected outcomes. It’s important to track your successes and failures to help develop the most innovative path forward.

“The most trusting working relationships breed the most creativity and innovation. Authentic connection with a brand fosters a blue sky approach, revealing new opportunities to share the brand’s message with their audience.” – Sarah Ferrall

MONA, Tasmania.
Photograph courtesy of Medium.

Q: Where did you grow up and what first sparked your interest in design?

A: I grew up in Tasmania where we’re lucky to punch above our weight in terms of culture, architecture, and design. Perhaps that wasn’t always the case, but particularly, seeing how an institution like MONA can shape a whole city in terms of its global cultural positioning has been inspiring. I’ve always been interested in fashion, pouring over copies of US Vogue and Vanity Fair as a teenager – a short hop, skip, and a jump to appreciating art and design from there.

My interest in design was broadened during my time in London, surrounded by some of the best design and architecture in the world and just a short journey from global design capitals like Milan and Paris. It’s impossible not to be in awe of the history and creativity that is so easily found in these places. It also helps that my husband is a practicing architect, so for the last 15 years my weekends and holidays have been full of visits to to “have a quick look at a building.”

Noguchi Museum, New York.
Photograph by Sarah Ferrall.

Stahl House, Los Angeles.
Photograph by Sarah Ferrall.

“Be brave! The design industry and the media landscape are evolving so quickly that it can be detrimental to repeat the same strategies if you want to see growth or a change in brand position. Have confidence that you know your brand and audience well enough that new ideas, when shaped around clear objectives, can be impactful.” – Sarah Ferrall