Sarah appears on CMS (Cameron Mckenna)‘s website this month in a featured article 17 Aug 2016
This month our spotlight article features Sarah Hunt who joined CMS back in 1989. Sarah gives us the low down on her career so far and reveals her passion for helping young people into the world of business.
When did you work at CMS (Cameron McKenna) and in what team?
I joined what was then Cameron Markby Hewitt as a trainee in 1989 and qualified into the Banking & Insolvency team working alongside, amongst others Dan Hamilton, Rob Hickmott and Duncan Aldred.
Where has your career taken you since leaving and what are you doing now?
I have to confess I absolutely hated being a lawyer, it really just wasn’t for me so, after 5 years, I gave it up and went to work in the world of recruitment at the Michael Page Group. It was the right move for me as it suited my personality so much more. I enjoyed the interaction and helping people achieve their career goal and I spent 6 much happier years running a team specialising in finance recruitment for the financial services sector. By then, it was apparent to me that I am a person who likes to be in control so I left Michael Page in 2000 to set up my own company Equity FD. My goal was to develop a brand which would attract only the most entrepreneurial finance directors into a client base of largely exit driven businesses. Setting up your own business is a daunting prospect but I have to admit that as much as I had disliked being a lawyer, I soon realised that the skills and knowledge I had acquired during that time were crucial in giving me the confidence to tackle many of the issues I faced establishing my business as well as the credibility I needed to raise the finance for my company. I have no qualms about casting my eyes over say a lease or an employment contract but am still pretty risk adverse nature when it comes to things like data protection or insurance.
What do you enjoy about your current role and what are your main challenges?
As I said, I like to be in control and I love the responsibility having my own company brings. I get the opportunity to work with some very bright and forward-thinking people and I prefer to see any challenges that come along as opportunities that I need to take to capitalise on. As a lawyer I learnt a certain moral code along with a relentless attitude and stamina (from all the late nights!) which I still benefit from now.
We understand you are very interested in encouraging young people to go into business, can you tell us a bit more about that?
I am particularly passionate about encouraging young people, particularly girls, to go into business and I regularly visit schools to talk to sixth formers about this. I think there is a misconception that you need to have an entrepreneurial spirit from the offset to run a successful business but I like to encourage young people that they don’t have to be a young Alan Sugar selling goods out the back of a van at 16 or maximising the profits of the school tuck shop to run their own business. It is perfectly acceptable to work and find that passion. All I advise is that they should use their education and then keep checking themselves along the way to see who they are. I often use the analogy that if you were working in a restaurant, what role do you see yourself having? I knew I would only ever be happy if I were the owner, working in the kitchen was never for me. I think this is a good test to see what you are most suited to in terms of your career.
I am a vehement supporter of women in business as I feel there we are still hugely under-represented. Unfortunately, when women do start their careers off successfully, there is still a large amount of women whose careers falter when they have children. I want to see companies grow with their staff and support and embrace the changes in their lives and see how just these changes do not devalue the skills they brought to a company but that all that may be needed is an adaption to their way of working. It's a huge shame that many companies do not make some simple changes which would retain this valuable part of the workforce.
How do you relax?
I have three children so I’m kept pretty busy but that is how I like it. I love to be sociable with people I like and enjoy a good meal out, the theatre and concerts. I also enjoy football – well the Euros not so much!