Welcome to A Day In The Life — a series dedicated to showcasing the ethos of an IXer. This month, we sat down (virtually, of course) with Sara Vincent, Senior Director of Strategic Partner Development and a leading member of our London office, to learn more about her experience leading a global team and the silver linings she’s found in quarantine.
Can you tell us a bit more about yourself & your job at Index? What does ‘a day in the life of Sara Vincent’ look like?
As the Senior Director of Strategic Partner Development and one of the three Northern European Regional Managing Directors, my day-to-day is usually packed with meetings. I would estimate that 75% of my day involves meetings, these are either one-on-ones with my immediate team, the functional team meets, leadership calls and client meetings.
In addition, I like to take an active role as an IX representative at industry events and IAB UK meetings (where we currently serve on the board). When I do have a gap in the day, I’m trying to catch up on emails and follow up on action items.
So you’re keeping busy, to say the least. What is your motivation to come (or log on, rather) to work each day?
My greatest motivation is my love for the people — my immediate team, the whole of Index, and my clients. To see people grow and development brings me great joy. It’s really easy to work at a company like Index because of how genuine and passionate the team is. There are fresh challenges every day, but I’m able to work with top-tier people who truly love what they do.
That’s lovely to hear. Now, you manage a global team at the moment. Can you tell us a bit more about that? What are some of the greatest challenges or benefits?
Currently, my team consists of five members who sit across four cities — London, Paris, Dusseldorf and Sydney — and three time zones. Luckily, we have mastered the art of the BlueJeans conference call — which is especially important in times like today — not only to accommodate the differences in time but also location.
Although we work with such varying time zone differences — London to Sydney is a 10-hour difference — our greatest challenge is also our best asset. We all come from different backgrounds, which brings a great, layered perspective to the team’s day-to-day work. We’re truly able to provide a global perspective to our clients, and offer an all-encompassing view of the industry.
One challenge a lot of professionals in the tech world face — particularly under current circumstances — is striking the right work-life balance. Any advice on how to navigate this, especially as a parent?
Balance isn’t a skill that I have fully mastered — yet. I am the kind of person who wants to be everything to everyone: Good mother, great worker, proactive citizen, etc. which inevitably brings disappointment. I realise now that I am the one putting these expectations on myself, so I try to give myself a break every now and then!
Quarantine has bought me the priceless gift of time. Without the long commute, I’m able to enjoy more time with my children, and days are much calmer. I’m lucky to have the opportunity to eat breakfast with my family and enjoy more time with them in general — it’s a balance that I would like to bring to my post quarantine life.
I also feel lucky that Index is so understanding of how difficult it can be to strike this balancing act. There’s no shame if you have to hop off of a call early to take care of your child. So long as your work isn’t impacted, there’s a lot of flexibility.
Speaking of parenting, are there any skills you’ve picked up from parenting that you now apply to your work ethic (or vice-versa)? How do these skills and learnings transfer?
There is so much overlap between the two, but I would say: Structure and honesty.
At work, you need structure, especially in a leadership role. And, under current circumstances, it’s more important than ever. I also find that without structure the children can get a bit unsettled.
Secondly, reassurance and honesty are key to both facets of life (as a parent or an employee). You need to reassure your team and your children that they are valued, and hopefully they, in turn, appreciate the effort you are putting in. But beyond that, it’s also important, to be honest with them. Explain why processes are in place, why things are happening in the way that they are, etc. Transparency is key, at work and at home.
Structure and honesty — excellent advice. Any other advice to share, particularly for young women who are just getting started in the industry?
I would definitely recommend getting into this industry if you enjoy a fast-paced, ever-changing work environment, but it is key to find yourself a mentor. A mentor who has been there and done that, they can give guidance on decision making and a different perspective on situations. My second piece of advice is don’t be afraid to ask- whether that’s questioning a view or asking for a pay rise. Go for it- what’s the worst that can happen?
I also think it’s really important to remain open-minded. You never know where your life might lead, so try to keep your options open, as best you can.
What’s one thing you can’t wait to do once quarantine has ended?
Well, what I should say is that I can’t wait to go on a lovely seaside holiday with my family. But if I’m being honest? I can’t wait to have dinner with my husband at Roka, the best Japanese restaurant in London!