Director of Finance and Technology at Make-a-Wish UK
Sarah Watson’s story acts as a great example of how unconventional paths can lead to remarkable success in the professional world. Her career trajectory, marked by continuous learning and adaptability, shows her dedication and innovative approach to personal and professional growth.
Watson's educational journey diverges from the traditional academic route. Eschewing university education, she left school with her General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSEs) and ventured directly into the world of finance. Her commitment to professional development is evident in her pursuit of the Association of AccountingTechnicians (AAT) and Certified Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) qualifications, demonstrating a self-driven approach to acquiring expertise in her field.
Her career progression reflects a blend of strategic planning and seizing opportunities driven by her interests. Starting in larger organisations, Watson's career took a fascinating turn as she transitioned into working with startups and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), particularly after starting a family. This phase was pivotal, providing her with deep insights into the challenges small businesses face, especially in terms of resource allocation.
A notable chapter in Watson's career was her work with a high-net-worth individual investing in renewable energy. This experience illuminated the intersection of passion, purpose, and business acumen, further enriching her professional repertoire. Her career took another significant pivot about a decade ago when she moved into the not-for-profit sector. This transition exemplifies her versatility and her ability to adapt her skills and experience to different organisational contexts and missions.
Watson’s philosophy on continuous development and the importance of aligning personal interests with professional roles is central to her success. She emphasises the dynamic nature of professional qualifications like accountancy, underscoring that the true value and excitement come from applying these skills across various businesses and organisations. Her strategic approach to career development is interwoven with a commitment to ongoing learning and effecting change.
Her greatest qualities, as she humbly suggests, are her curiosity and ability to connect. These traits have enabled her to engage meaningfully with people and projects, fostering an environment of empathy and understanding. These skills are particularly pertinent in her current role at Make-A-Wish UK, where she confronts the challenge of limited resources in trying to reach more children.
“I think my greatest quality is my ability to connect. I love learning. So, being curious and having an ability to connect I think comes together really powerfully. Whether that's connection through empathy, whether that's connection through understanding of what someone wants to do.”
Additionally, Watson draws inspiration not from high-profile individuals but from everyday interactions and the small, significant actions of those around her. Her involvement in a women's network Chief has been particularly influential, providing her with a platform to collaborate, learn, and drive change collectively.
Sarah Watson's career is a testament to the power of curiosity, continuous learning, and adaptability. Her journey through various sectors, combined with her unique educational path and personal qualities, make her a formidable professional whose impact extends beyond her immediate sphere of work, inspiring others to think creatively about their career paths and the possibilities that lie in pursuing one’s interests and passions.
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“The vision behind the customer centric Supply Chain (SC) transformation programme, emphasised the potential for supply chains to contribute to the top line, in addition to the traditional bottom line.”