Since starting her career six years ago, Sarah Holmes has been steadily building up her skills and experience through a combination of taking on new roles and ongoing education. She is currently international business development manager at IT procurement and logistics management services firm Arkphire.
About Sarah Holmes
Tell us a bit about your educational background and early career
I attended St Andrew’s College in Booterstown for secondary school. From there I went to UCD and did a bachelor of arts in English and sociology. I did an Erasmus year at Loughborough University in Leicestershire in the UK where I also studied sociology before returning for my final year at UCD.
From there I did a master’s in business management at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School.
After leaving Smurfit in 2013, I started a six-month marketing assistant internship at Ergo. Three months in, I was promoted into the role of senior recruitment and resourcing specialist. After another 18 months, I was offered the position of IT recruiter lead for Accenture. However, I turned it down to take on a role with software start-up FlowForma. There, I was business development executive for 18 months before being promoted to UK and Ireland territory manager where I spent a further 18 months. A year ago I joined Arkphire as international business development manager.
In 2018, I completed a postgrad diploma in international selling at DIT. I started a second master’s in sales management in DIT but decided to defer after taking on my most recent role – however, I do plan to return to it in the next year or so.
Has there been any defining moment that has helped shape your career so far?
I don’t think there is one moment. I think it’s a combination of my experience in the roles I’ve held to date and the learnings I’ve taken from each of them that have shaped where I am today.
What is your current role and what does it involve?
As international business development manager at Arkphire my responsibility includes supporting the company’s international expansion journey. I’m responsible for driving new business for Arkphire’s IT procurement division. I work closely with multinational organisations headquartered in the USA and EMEA regions. I regularly travel to the US, mainly San Francisco to Silicon Valley and also to Boston and New York for new client meetings and visiting existing customers. I do the same around EMEA region.
The role involves engaging with customers to understand their plans for their business, their employees and their own clients as they grow and expand across EMEA. It’s about understanding where they can improve their employee and customer experience and drive efficiency and productivity within their business.
What motivates you?
Learning new things, meeting deadlines, targets or goals and working well as part of a team.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I would describe my leadership style as strategic, direct, and leading by example. I enjoy driving new initiatives, delegating tasks and taking the lead on projects, but I also like to stay involved and inspire the team around me by showing that I’m working hands-on to help them too.
What do you feel has been your biggest achievement to date?
I don’t feel there is one particular achievement that has been the biggest for me. In each role I have had milestones that I’ve been proud of and looking back I think they have each been a big achievement. I feel the hard work, dedication to education and pushing myself outside of my comfort zones continue to help me achieve my goals.
How important is ongoing learning to you?
Extremely important, I believe the continuous education I have carried out to date has helped me to get to where I am today. I plan to always be learning and upskilling when and where I can.
What’s the best piece of advice you have received?
Be patient and put the hard work in, then things will begin to happen. Also, have a path but be flexible.
What are your career or business aspirations going forward?
I hope to further develop my experience and skills working with some of the largest multinationals in the world through my current role. Long-term I would love to become a senior member of the management and leadership team and take on more responsibility to continue to drive the international expansion here at Arkphire.
How has your degree benefited your career?
The broadness of my degrees left a number of options and paths open to me when leaving college. This has always allowed me to be flexible and agile in adapting to different roles.
What is your fondest memory from your time in UCD Smurfit School?
Smurfit was great: I think the diversity of people I met was one of the fondest memories and I still have great friends from the course. The tag rugby trip to the USA was also a great highlight.
How important is your UCD alumni network to you?
Very important, Ireland is such a connected business landscape.
What are your main interests outside work?
Travel, gym and fashion.
Tell us something most people don’t know about you.
I’ve a passion for cars and have driven some super cars. I’d love to be involved in Formula One at some stage.
What pieces of technology can you not live without?
Noise cancelling headphones for travel and Spotify.
What are your pet hates?
Rudeness and bad hygiene.
Do you have a favourite book or writer?
I don’t have a favourite. I love reading everything from business and life books to fiction thrillers.
And what is your favourite band?
Coldplay – they are unbelievable in concert and have some happy memories attending them.
What’s the last performance you went to that you loved?
There are a few: The Book of Mormon on Broadway was one of the funniest musicals I’ve ever seen; Jenny Greene and the RTE National Symphony Orchestra in Iveagh Gardens where they played the classic dance songs was a great one – I love dance music.
What is your favourite dish to cook?
Fajitas – it’s a family favourite.
What is your favourite place in the world to visit and why?
I can’t pick one, there are a few. Croatia and Vietnam are amazing. I also visited Hong Kong for the first time this year on holidays and it was an incredible experience.
Where is home and why?
Home is always in Dublin with my family and friends.
Name three things on your bucket list
See the Northern Lights, go on a wildlife safari and run a marathon.
What charities or causes are closest to your heart?
Mental Health Ireland is one close to my heart and I also always support Irish Cancer Society.