Sarah Stallard, MGC 2000 Leaver
When selecting my course for university I had no idea what job I wanted to do so I chose a subject that I was both interested in and that I felt could lead me into the ‘job in the city’ that I thought I was ‘supposed to do’. While studying at London School of Economics I continued my tennis training and decided that I would play full-time after graduation. So, while all my friends were doing internships in big city firms, I was off round the world, using my student loan to fund my tournaments.
Tennis was a very lonely world but I was completely addicted to the thrill of competition and seeing how far I could get with it. The highs and lows were extreme. The highest points would have to be finally getting my first world ranking points in Australia, beating the no 72 in the world, winning a British Tour tournament and training in Cairo for six months. My lowest points are obvious: every time I lost! Like most players I struggled with injuries and finally had to stop due to a wrist injury.
The lessons I learned from tennis proved invaluable when, working as an Independent Financial Adviser a few years later, I decided to set up my own business.
Since Economics A Level I had been very interested in financial affairs but when I had to think seriously about a career in Finance after my tennis was cut short, I realised that the standard city job in a multi-national firm just was not for me as I wanted to work in a smaller company in a client-facing role. A few years in I got the confidence to go off and set up my own business. Starting from scratch with not a single client to my name and only enough in the bank to survive for one month was perhaps a little bold, but it certainly focuses the mind and it is surprising how many people want to help you if you show a bit of entrepreneurial spirit! I have learned a lot along the way about business and about myself. I now have about 250 clients, and an office in central Bristol and London.
However, my greatest, and most recent, achievement was giving birth to our beautiful daughter. It is entirely possible to juggle having a baby and running a business and I even signed up a new client the week after she was born. It is definitely a challenge, but I set myself small goals along the way and four months in things are going really well.
What does success look like?
I believe success looks different to different people. Ultimately success is feeling happy, fulfilled and content with your achievements.
What’s your best piece of advice?
Do not be scared to follow your dreams but also to change direction if things do not work out. Keep setting small achievable goals and congratulate yourself when you achieve them. One big goal can be very daunting!