She could...she did...she is... Sara Harris, MBE
If 'practising what you preach' is an important attribute for you when choosing a business/life coach, then Sara Harris couldn't be a better fit.
"I can...I will...watch me"
Sara was awarded an MBE during her eleven-year career in the Army, she climbed the dizzying heights of the corporate world for thirteen years and is now enjoying her THIRD successful career as owner of Sara Harris Global.
Sara kindly agreed to be interviewed for Alder Woman, a feature whereby I interview women in business that I admire.
Sara, when did your army career start? I was 17 when I left home and headed to Guildford to start my career in the Army.
I was excited and nervous in one, given it was the unknown and a long way from home.
I joined in 1990 and the opportunity for women in the Army was very limited. I joined the WRAC (Womens Royal Army Corps) and in 1992 this Corps was disbanded and the AGC (Adjutant General’s Corps) was formed, those in the WRAC transferred and we mixed with other cap badges at that time.
"I won’t lie it was a man’s world and you did need to prove yourself, especially given women at this time couldn’t serve on the front line"
I joined the Army to see the world and I got posted to Salisbury for six years! I’ve served in Germany and London with a period spent in Bosnia and Italy during the IFOR mission.
How did you come to be awarded an MBE? While I was serving in Bosnia during the conflict, I decided to help two local children who were very sick in hospital. With the help of the British public, we raised a substantial amount of money that allowed one of the children (Mirzet) to be brought to the UK for life-saving treatment for his lymphoblastic leukaemia, if he had remained in Sarajevo he would have died.
The other child had sadly stepped on a mine. With the fundraising by the British public, we were able to have two new prosthetic legs made that allowed her to walk again and be the little girl she was. Before she could return home there was extensive work carried out to rebuild and adapt her home following the war.
I feel very privileged to have been awarded my MBE* in the New Years Honours List in 2000, this certainly wasn’t something one ever expects, especially when you’re doing things that you would when the opportunity allows.
* An MBE (The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) is a British order of chivalry.
An honour created by King George V during World War One to reward services to the war effort by civilians at home and service personnel in support positions.
When did you leave the army and what job did you do?
Given I was working at MoD in Whitehall the transition wasn’t too difficult as I had already adapted to living in a flat in London, travelled to work like others on the tube and wore everyday business attire. I think the biggest transition was leaving my network and colleagues behind and starting afresh with a community I didn’t know much about. A large part of the military bond is that you know others have your back no matter what!
It’s true what they say, when you leave the military it will take time to find the right job, one just has to be patient!
Thankfully some of my skills were transferrable and following a stint working in the city as an office manager and then a recruiter, I started my career in the Telecommunications sector. I spent thirteen years climbing the corporate ladder, learning new skills, working demanding and long hours, working internationally and travelling the globe. This all sounds fantastic, but it came at a price. Yes, I was paid well, but I was time poor, a work/life balance didn’t exist.
Since leaving the corporate world, you have made your way to 'The 100 Club'* in the global wellness, beauty and health brand of Forever the Aloe Vera Company. Can you tell me about that? I made a decision in 2013 that I wanted a career on my terms, that was flexible, that would give me choices that would allow me to be present for my daughter. I had fallen in love with the brand back in 2010, but I wasn’t at that time interested in building a business!
What changed you might ask, well, I saw my friend who lives overseas living the life most dream of, time with her family yet still having a successful career. So, initially, I worked very part-time in my evenings around my demanding corporate job. I set a goal of leaving the corporate world in April 2015, with the right work and focus I was able to bring that forward to October 2014, after building a successful business in the nooks and crannies of time I created. I was able to fulfil that goal of leaving the rat race and have since worked a full-time job in part-time hours around my young daughter.
The job has certainly given me everything and more that I desired. It hasn’t been easy, but what small business is? I believe what you put in with time and effort is what you get out and for me being able to be there for my daughter and help others is priceless.
My work with Forever has given me the opportunity to assist others through motivational speaking and business mentoring through my business Sara Harris Global.
"Anything is possible with the right mindset and inner belief"
*The 100 Club has been created by Forever, The Aloe Vera Company to incentivise and recognise those who are building strong businesses and helping others succeed.