Sarah W.

Former Senior Exec at BBC, now a coach and mediator
Happy to mentor
Happy to be contacted

About me

Sarah W.
English and Related Literature
English and Related Literature
Undergraduate
Langwith
1983
United Kingdom

My employment

Former Senior Exec at BBC, now a coach and mediator
Ex BBC News & Current Affairs
United Kingdom
Journalism and publishing
Large business (250+ employees)
1989

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A day in the life of a Former Senior Exec at BBC, now a coach and mediator in the United Kingdom

My current role feels like a natural development from some of the work I was doing when I reached a leadership role at the BBC

Briefly describe the organisation you work for

I am now working independently, running my own business and working in partnership with other organisations, both large and small. However, until November 2021, I was employed full time at BBC News, the largest news organisation in Europe and one of the most important media brands in the world.

What do you do?

I now work for myself as a mediator, coach, trainer and consultant, mostly in the journalism and media sector. I coach and give mentoring advice to a number of leaders in large and small organisations, I offer advice and support in workplace and employment disputes and I develop/deliver training in leadership, mental health and trauma.

Reflecting upon your past employment and education, what led you to your current career choice?

When I graduated, I got a job as a PA in a small independent TV company in London. I shadowed different roles there, moved into Bookings and then moved around to a number of other roles in different companies to build my TV Production experience. After about 3 years, I realised that I wanted to focus on journalism. I managed to get a job in the London office of Australian Broadcasting and later moved to BBC News. I became a journalist because I wanted to write, do something creative but also fast-moving. I have loved being an eye witness to big events, travelling around the globe and working in incredibly talented and committed teams. As I moved into leadership, my focus shifted from the editorial to the people behind the scenes.

Is your current job sector different from what you thought you would enter when you graduated?

My current role feels like a natural development from some of the work I was doing when I reached a leadership role at the BBC - but it's not what I expected to be doing when I left York.

Describe your most memorable day at work

It was the middle of the night on a Saturday during an August Bank Holiday Weekend, back in 1997. I was phoned to be told that Princess Diana had been injured (and of course later died) in a car crash in Paris. I was asked to lead the coverage from the BBC's Westminster studio and I hardly left the office for a week. It was the biggest story I had ever worked on, at that point in my career.

Are there any challenges associated with your job?

Yes, many! At the BBC, the biggest challenge was the unpredictability of the news, how stories can just appear from nowhere so you have to be flexible and it can sometimes be difficult to maintain work/life balance. My new role is challenging in a very different way because I am working for myself and usually on my own - for the first time in my career.

What’s your work environment and culture like?

Now that I am working for myself, I am based mainly at home and have my own office which is very quiet and comfortable but it is easy to be tied to my desk all day, every day. Prior to that, at the BBC, I was working in an open plan newsroom environment which was very dynamic and exciting but it could be hard to find a space to think.

What extracurricular activities did you undertake at university and what transferable skills did you develop through these?

I led the Visual Arts Society and this gave me experience of organising events and openings, negotiating contracts, marketing and publicity. All of this was useful later in my career. I also walked most weekends with the Outdoor Society and this got me into the habit of using walking and being outside to support my mental wellbeing. This has remained with me and I now take a long walk almost every day.

What would you like to do next with your career?

I am only just embarking on my next chapter, after the BBC, so I need just to focus on this for now!

What top tips do you have for York students preparing for today’s job market and life after graduation?

* Have an open mind - be ready to flex and try things which may not be what you expect
* Be curious - it's vital in journalism but more generally take note of what is around you, your brain will often make exciting connections and inspire you
* Listen - people love to talk about themselves and you can learn so much from others

What topics from students are you happy to answer questions on?

I am happy to try to answer any questions!

Next steps...

If you like the look of Sarah’s profile, the next steps are down to you! You can send Sarah a message to find out more about their career journey. If you feel you would benefit from more in-depth conversations, ask Sarah to be your mentor.

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