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News > Old Girls' Association > On starting your own business: Sarah Bradbury née Platts (V 1998)

On starting your own business: Sarah Bradbury née Platts (V 1998)

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Sarah Bradbury left St Swithun’s in 1998 and has gone on to have a successful career, starting her own marketing agency, Difference Engine. Recently, Sarah has returned to St Swithun’s to lend her expertise to our career’s events including our L6 practice interview evening and careers speed networking. Upon her most recent visit to the school we had the opportunity to catch up with Sarah and find out about the journey that led her to founding her own business.

After finishing her A-levels Sarah went on to study languages at Cambridge and this was followed by some time living abroad both in France and Sri Lanka. When she returned home to the UK she found it challenging to find a clear career path that would utilise her language skills, so she found a job helping students prepare for university applications and interviews. The organisation she worked for was small, and this is what first sparked her interest in small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Sarah found the inner workings of a small organisation interesting and wanted to learn more and so after this job she went into market research and spent many years working in a variety of SMEs.

Sarah loved working in SMEs because there are such a variety of tasks to get involved in; from creating good processes to finding skilled staff. After many years working in different operations roles Sarah started to wonder about starting her own business. At the same time some of her former colleagues were having similar ideas and so they naturally came together to form their own organisation. Sarah explains; “We wanted to build the organisation that we’ve always dreamed of working in.”

It was nerve-wracking taking the leap to start her own business, but she knew it was something she had to do to avoid regrets in the future. She says, "I love the idea of somebody having a great idea for a service or a product and actually having the guts to just go for it and see what might happen."

And so, three years ago she founded the marketing agency, Difference Engine. As the Director and Chief Operating Officer Sarah’s work is busy, juggling multiple responsibilities to ensure the business is successful. Day-to-day there are several meetings around business strategies and discussions around clients. She also does project work delivering marketing services to clients whether that be offering strategic marketing advice or helping out with digital marketing or paid advertising campaigns. Part of Sarah’s role is also ensuring that the finances are taken care of, and that all employees at Difference Engine are happy.

Not only is Sarah juggling many elements in her role at Difference Engine, she also has a busy family life with a one-year-old and a six-year-old. Her tips for managing this include creating clear boundaries between work and family time and ensuring that full attention and focus is given to any task she is working on. Sarah’s ambitions for the future include continuing to grow Difference Engine and make it a success, and also spending time with her family and hopefully travelling with them one day.

It is fabulous to see our former students forging unique career paths, and we are wishing Sarah all the best with both her career and family ambitions.

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