Sarah Lewis OBE, Managing Director, Sarah Lewis Global Sports Leader GmbH

In our regular series, industry high-fliers remind us of their first jobs


Hi, Sarah! Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Sarah and I’m Managing Director of Sarah Lewis Global Sports Leader GmbH.

What was your #MyFirstMcJob?

Working for a newly set-up ski importer and distributor in North London.

How did you get it?

I went to meet the owner of the local ski shop and asked if I could do an apprenticeship. I’d been selected by the British Junior Ski team, who said: if you want to participate in our international competitions, you’ve got to follow our program. I came back to the UK from the ski academy in France, which I went to after passing my O Levels, and wanted to work so that I could look after myself and contribute financially. There wasn’t a flexible education option back then.

What did you have to do?

I was the only employee for about a year, so I did most of the admin and labour: answered the phone, typed letters, took orders, made the tea and coffee, dressed the showroom, prepared orders and unloaded and loaded trucks, and did a lot of ski repairs on these heavy duty machines.

How long did you work there for?

For my ski career — eight years, from 1981 until 1989. When I retired from competitive skiing and started my own PR company, they became one of my clients.

How much did you get paid? What did you spend your first paycheque on?

£15 a week. My intention was to save up to support my ski-racing career, because it wasn’t paid for when you were in the junior national team in Great Britain at that stage.

Did anything funny happen?

The warehouse was above a pub in North Finchley, so you had to lug stuff out of the trucks and up the stairs, which was brilliant for my fitness. There was a shed at the back where we would sometimes leave stuff in, but the owner of the pub used to keep his dog in there, so it was half ski gear storage / half kennel.

What skills did learn that you still use today?

I learned how to multitask, big time. I learned how to organise my work around my formal fitness training, and how to roll up your sleeves and get on with it. Now I would never ask others to do tasks I wouldn’t be prepared to do myself.

Are you still in contact with anyone you used to work with?

The original director, Bill Kent, passed away, but the other director’s wife I’ve connected with through British Skiing and now on LinkedIn. Two of the lads who came a bit later are still social media friends.

Why is alumni important to you personally?

I’m in my school alumni, and once went to a 10-year reunion. 40 years later, I’m still in contact with my original ski club/team colleagues and have been to a lot of events, including a wedding in Scotland, and three friends I had dinner with on Friday.

Why is alumni is important as a concept?

You share experiences and friendship to support each other, and know their skills and weaknesses. It’s the devil-you-know-type approach: you know what they’re capable of and how you work together. That common, shared bond means a lot.

What would happen if you went back and worked in the ski shop again?

At the ski shop, I’d be brilliant. But I think I would struggle using an old fashioned typewriter, having got so used to technology!

If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, what would you say?

Be more curious about what everyone else is doing (I am today!). Knowledge is power!





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