On Career Choices, Creativity, Her Children, and Connecting with Other Female Leaders
To celebrate Women’s History Month in March, Inspirage, Part of Accenture is highlighting women in the technology industry in general and at Inspirage in particular.
This week we continue our series profiling the women of Inspirage, Part of Accenture by sitting down with Sarah Hart, Inspirage’s Director of Global Marketing and Communications. We talked about the importance of having a female role model, being a creative woman in the tech industry, and the advice she would give to her younger self. Here’s what she had to say…
What drew you to the technology industry?
Sarah Hart (SH): Before joining the tech industry, I worked in marketing and public relations in several areas, including beauty, international higher education, retail, events, and financial management. For my next role, I was committed to joining a company with a good culture that offered professional growth opportunities and needed a marketing shake-up. I was approached with an opportunity to lead the marketing efforts for Vertical Edge Consulting Group, an EPM-specific Oracle system integrator. They needed a marketing director and a real marketing presence, so I jumped in and started building their marketing strategy from the ground up. I led all marketing initiatives — content creation, digital marketing, social media, events, and more — with the help of a part-time contract graphic designer and contributions from our consulting team.
After six years, Vertical Edge was acquired by Inspirage, an end-to-end digital transformation Oracle system integrator specializing in supply chain management. I joined Inspirage as a marketing manager, but I took on the Director of Global Marketing and Communications role just over a year later. Today, I have worked in the tech industry, specifically the Oracle ecosystem, for almost nine years. Marketing technology requires balancing creativity with concise, rich messaging that speaks to organizations’ business needs and goals. Companies now understand more than ever the role technology plays in ensuring their resiliency, agility, and scaling for the future. As a marketer, not only is it necessary to “think outside of the box,” but also to remember that “acting outside of the box” produces click-worthy marketing initiatives. This activity directly contributes to opportunities to help businesses by bringing together the right teams and technologies to optimize their enterprises’ performance.
What is one of the most significant challenges you have faced as a woman in the workplace?
SH: I recently read that women hold only one-quarter of tech jobs. The percentage was much lower when I began working in the industry. As a female working in a male-dominated workplace, it is easy to be underestimated. In addition to not being valued as an equal, few female role models existed. At times I have subscribed to imposter syndrome, questioning whether I deserved my success. The challenges I have encountered have given me opportunities to grow professionally. I am often the only female in the room, but I have equipped myself with strategies to assert my ideas and leverage my strengths. I have found my confidence and voice. It has also been a priority to connect with other female leaders in technology, including colleagues and those I have met at conferences and through professional engagements – women who serve as mentors and friends.
What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
SH: I am not sure the following is something that I would need to tell my 18-year-old self, but it is something we all need to be reminded of on occasion. I have repeatedly told my children, now young adults, to be respectful and kind. I guess my ‘momma nagging’ impacted them because my youngest daughter recently wrote this in a college application essay, “In a world muddied by discord, scarred by hatred, and clouded by unacceptance, we should all express empathy and kindness.”
I would also tell my younger self to take risks while she still can. I took a considerable risk when I graduated college and moved to London at 22. Still, I would advise the 18-year-old me to take more risks before taking on significant responsibilities like children, owning a home, and paying a mortgage. Take a chance at your passion and be adventurous, whether you succeed or not. Either outcome presents an opportunity for personal growth, and you can bounce back easier without primary responsibilities attached.
Finally, consider pursuing a career or a job that ignites your passion. You will be successful if you seek a career around something that brings you joy. Gone are the days of earning a degree in a field perceived as lucrative. Today’s generation values work-life balance and relationships more than money. Do not accept a promotion based on the compensation alone. Take time to weigh its impact on your creativity, personal life, and relationships.
What has been your biggest career and or personal achievement?
SH: Having been the marketing director for four companies subsequently acquired, I chalk that up to professional success. Growing a company’s brand, goodwill, and value ultimately leads to sales. Sales are followed by growth, profitability, and valuation – critical considerations in acquisitions.
Without a doubt, raising my four children as a single mom for the past 11 years is my greatest personal achievement. All four have received full scholarships for college and have gone on to do remarkable things. My boys have graduated college. One is pursuing a career in stock trading and investing, and the other is a financial analyst. My oldest daughter is graduating in May with majors in fashion and retail entrepreneurship and communications and has earned several employment offers. My youngest daughter is in her first year of college, pursuing behavioral psychology and education degrees and living her best life! Oh, to be in college again! I could not be prouder of them.
Do you have any hobbies or passions outside of work?
SH: My hobby and passion is Interior Design. It brings out my creativity, puts a pep in my step, and brings joy to my life. I enjoy spending weekends hunting for new treasures, decorating my home, and helping my children and friends transform their homes. “Acting outside of the box” and creating something unique from scratch that is functional and aesthetically pleasing is so satisfying.
What is one of the most important professional lessons you have learned?
SH: There is no such thing as a bad idea. I tell my marketing team this often. When you are brainstorming as a group and writing down ideas, you never know what you might dream up. Your insecurities might lead you to think that a valuable idea is useless, but that idea may trigger a conversation that results in a great solution. As a more creative person on a team of people who might otherwise tend to think more “inside the box,” it is easy to let insecurity creep in. Do not let it. Own your thoughts and ideas and throw them out on the table for discussion. They have value and can very well lead to something fantastic.
As the head of Inspirage’s global marketing department, Sarah is one of the noteworthy women who contribute to our shared success daily. She works closely with our executive leadership team, Oracle partners, and business alliance networks to elevate the company’s brand, drive its growth, and achieve its strategic initiatives. Inspirage, Part of Accenture is focused on preparing companies for the next decade by embracing end-to-end digital transformation and reimagining their digital experiences. Implementing industry best practices related to fostering talent, enhancing sustainability, and leveraging the potential of the metaverse are also among the key goals that Sarah’s marketing team plays a pivotal role in accomplishing.
Please continue to watch this space in the weeks ahead as we use the occasion of Women’s History Month to celebrate some of the other noteworthy women of Inspirage, Part of Accenture.