London Business School
“To live life with integrity and no regrets, whilst being a positive force to others.”
Hometown: Sydney, Australia (hometown), London, UK (current residence)
Family Members: My husband in London and my dad in Sydney.
Fun fact about yourself: In high school, I won the regional swimming championships three times but I still can’t dive.
Undergraduate School and Degree:
Macquarie University (Sydney, Australia): Bachelor of Business Administration and Bachelor of Commerce – Accounting. Graduated 2003.
Where are you currently working? I was an Investor Relations Manager at Apax Partners, but am currently exploring new opportunities.
Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles:
LBS Student Award 2021 – Outstanding Leadership and Service Award
President of the LBS Board Fellows
LBS EMBA Ambassador
Volunteer for local foodbank
Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I’m proud to have revived the London Business School Board Fellows Programme, leaving a strong and positive legacy for future LBS students.
It was important for me to give LBS students an opportunity to give back to the community by applying their knowledge from their LBS degrees. The Board Fellows Programme places students on the boards of UK and international NGOs. While they shadow the board, they learn about corporate governance as well as work on a special project specific to the NGO where they are working. At the same time, NGOs really appreciate the students’ volunteering efforts. I believe this helps foster leaders that are accountable corporate citizens, with a strong sense of social responsibility, which should continue after graduation and throughout our careers. I’m also passionate about addressing equality and diversity on boards so I think that by sparking an interest in governance while studying business at LBS is a step in the right direction.
I’m honoured to have been President and lead a fantastic team in London and Dubai. The Board Fellows Programme wouldn’t be where it is today without everyone’s hard work and dedication. During my tenure, the team has more than doubled in size, expanding operations in London and into Dubai. This connected our two EMBA campuses and gives a common mission to collaborate across continents.
What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Throughout my career, I have been proud to stay true to my integrity and challenge the status quo. It has taught me invaluable skills that my ex-colleagues and teammates told me have made me a trusted leader. I really cherish this feedback and it gives me confidence to aim higher and further in the next stages of my career.
Who was your favorite MBA professor? Jean-Pierre Benoît, Professor of Economics, BA (Yale) PhD (Stanford). He taught me Microeconomics and the Thinking Strategically elective, which is the practical application of Game Theory in business decision-making. His humble and down-to-earth style made complex subject matters not just understandable but thoroughly enjoyable to learn.
Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? My decision to go to LBS was simple: go for the best and in the UK. The consistently high global rankings and distinguished list of alumni convinced me this was the place to be and I wanted to be a part of this alumni network. I was also seriously impressed with the calibre of our professors and the global diversity of students, which adds to the rich tapestry of the LBS experience. Being at LBS opens doors, with many talks by senior industry leaders to learn from, which makes you feel very special to be a part of LBS. Right from the start, faculty and staff were approachable and genuinely willing to help. Everyone sincerely makes the effort to foster a collaborative community and this doesn’t stop when you graduate.
What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? Every business school will teach you the hard skills but it’s the soft skills that make you a leader. I really enjoyed the Organisational Behaviour subjects, which have taught me a lot about my strengths and how to maximise them at work and in life. Most of all, I now have incredible confidence in myself and my abilities so I can pursue whatever I put my mind to.
What was your biggest regret in business school? COVID-19 dramatically cut down my opportunities to meet people spontaneously around campus and at social gatherings so I wish I could catch up on this lost time.
Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? During EMBA, the pressure is constant, but it teaches you to prioritise, excel under pressure, and be efficient. During the summer break, I had the choice of doing electives rather than taking a holiday. I thought that it would be good to do two of them so that I reduced the pressure on myself next year. However, this meant that I didn’t have a mental break and then Term 3 came around which many, including myself, found to be the heaviest in terms of workload. I had also just taken over the presidency for the Board Fellows and there was a lot I wanted to do there as well. My husband cheered me on and gave me space to prioritise LBS. Without his support, I would have felt guilty I was not carving out family time, but he made it so much easier for me.
What is the biggest myth about going back to school?
Myth: Business degrees are for financially-oriented professionals.
Truth: It’s true in that around 30% of students work in finance, but my fellow classmates also included doctors, scientists, engineers and architects to name a few..
Which MBA classmate do you most admire? With several members having babies, changing jobs, moving countries – things we were advised not to do during the EMBA – it’s impossible to single out just one. I have been blessed with an ambitious cohort where each individual has a rich back-story and I have made friends for life.
What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? I’m at a point in my career where the early career MBA would not have equipped me for leadership positions while a part-time or online option would have been less immersive. Although COVID-19 forced most of my classes to be online, the fact that I was able to build relationships in the first term, went a long way to cement common bonds in my cohort as we went through the pandemic together.
What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I’m considering several ideas at the moment. LBS has presented me with interesting opportunities to pursue through the invaluable connections I’ve made, one of them being to reach the C-Suite and I’m also working on having a portfolio of NED roles. Hopefully, I’d also have the privilege to be a mentor so others can learn from my experience.
What made Sarah such an invaluable addition to the class of 2021?
“Sarah came to LBS with a track record in investor relations. She has been a highly engaged and proactive member of LBS’s Board Fellows Programme, which trains, mentors and places students on boards of directors for London based charities. Sarah has been a forward-thinking and committed president, and has developed the student training to such heights that NGOs are now enquiring about the delivery of training to others on their boards. In addition, Sarah has been an EMBA ambassador, blogging about her experience and supporting the recruitment of incoming students.”
Fiona Lennoxsmith, Director