Mr Pilbeam is a career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and until recently was Director of the Korean Peninsula and Mongolia Section. Mr Pilbeam has previously served overseas as High Commissioner to Vanuatu and Deputy Consul-General in Hong Kong, with earlier postings in Seoul, New York, Port Moresby and Jamaica.
Mr Pilbeam holds a first class honours degree in commerce from the University of Melbourne and has completed post-graduate work at the Australian National University on Korean economic development, society and history.
He married Yvonne Webber in Jamaica in August 1979. They have three daughters: one an Australian diplomat in Kuala Lumpur, one an RSPCA veterinary surgeon in Canberra and one a tertiary student.