Staff Spotlight: Hanna Spencer

Digital Marketing Manager


Hanna grew up across New Zealand, Australia and America, moving frequently with her parents' work. They believed in travel as part of a rich education and traveled extensively both locally and internationally. They taught her about social injustices, poverty, history, and other issues in the places they visited. She has visited 46 countries and counting, whilst managing a marketing career and life in London. Her travel-education will continue, meeting the family in China later this year, where her parents are currently working.

What is your favorite travel memory?

When deciding where to go on holiday, a travel agent took our brief for a mix of adventure and relaxation and suggested Borneo. The beauty of the place and education in conservation was a revelation.

I spent a month in Sabah (coincidentally where Raleigh operated for some years). My boyfriend and I heard that David Attenborough got his initial inspiration from climbing Mt. Kinabalu. Expecting it to be somewhat of a romantic stroll, we were surprised to be traversing across a granite rock face to reach the summit, from 2 am with head torches. Meanwhile, to our amazement, the nimble guide was literally sprinting up and down in falling-apart croc shoes!

We visited Orangutans in the wild, went to a turtle conservation island, on a jungle river canoe safari and went diving in clear blue waters, learning a lot about conservation (and its challenges) along the way. Already well traveled, the adventure and education on conservation was amazing.

While on the island, we were approached by a school to volunteer for a few weeks. It was a challenging experience not having the right resources to teach, especially with the older children who needed more advanced learning. I'd always donated or volunteered in some capacity, but that's when I became more aware of the need for organized volunteering. By volunteering for an organization such as Raleigh, you are provided the resources you need to make an impact, and ensure your time is well spent.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Raleigh is an organization with a wonderful sense of community, kindness, integrity and general warmth that makes it feel like one team. Once you join Raleigh, you are a part of something long term. The investment of my time is the biggest I can make, and working for an organization that makes me feel valued and is good for my wellbeing is important. I have enjoyed this change from corporate working into an organization that I believe in and where we create impact and positive change.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

My boss met his wife on Expedition and I have heard a lot of similar stories. He's since been on Raleigh Expedition about 10 times, including 4 times as a Volunteer and was a Country Director for many years. "There's something about meeting someone with similar life values who cares about the same things." They are now living in London with their two children after traveling the world, but he has told me a lot about his treasured small moments on Expedition, and how much perspective he gained each time he went.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

Raleigh Expedition is the only program that teaches young people leadership skills across the community, environmental and adventure projects. You will see the holistic view of the community. Projects are always evolving, so it's great to arrive with a certain degree of the unknown and roll with it. The cultural experience of getting to know people within small communities rarely visited by tourists is something you'll never forget.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

Raleigh focuses on impacting long term change with a holistic view toward the communities that they work within, and as a volunteer, you will experience this. You aren't attending as a tokenistic gesture: you are working on projects that really change the lives of the people in the country that you'll be working with. Because the programs and people are always evolving, no two experiences are the same. Going on the program is a life-changing experience. It changes your perspective and gives you a sense of leadership, community, service and cultural awareness that is unique to Raleigh.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Part of the reason why our programmes are constantly evolving is that we work to the needs of the communities that we work in. We have offices in every country so we can work as a partnership. Raleigh has the utmost integrity. We do what we say we'll do. Safety is our biggest priority on the programme and we look after our people. We have highly invested staff that believe in our programmes, and since Expedition has run for 35 years, it is tried and tested.