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Faculty Focus: Sarah Babb

USB-ED is fortunate to have access to more than 300 part-time faculty, consultants, business leaders and industry experts who facilitate on our programmes.
Today we would like to introduce you to Sarah Babb.

What is the toughest leadership challenge businesses face today?

To realise that the impact of COVID-19 will live beyond. Right now leaders are building muscles to lead in the unknowing and to learn to live with uncertainty and dare we say, curiosity.  That to lead now takes courage and we are being called to ‘step up’- each of us.  Make decisions, act, sense and adapt- all in collaboration and with a bigger picture in mind. There are many tensions leaders are balancing now- between caring for themselves, and for the organisation and for the globe, being disruptive and innovative, while trying to keep the ‘ship afloat’.  Being emotionally agile, taking care of our wellness, while taking care of the wellness of employees and family are both important. This can make it hard to not be lost in the ‘fog’, and the best way is to just keep moving - one step at a time. And you are not alone.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned from a student to date?

How many fascinating industries there are out there! I have been privileged to learn across all sectors right the way from apple farms to high finance, from building ships to building futures.  And no matter where the managers and students come from, we all absolutely give our best to learn and lead. The commitment and dedication of people is astonishing. And the impact we can all have together is far reaching. How inspiring.

Who inspires you and why?

David Whyte - the poet and philosopher- as he talks to how much happens at the interface of boundaries. And this is the world we live in now - as he would say at  "the conversational nature of reality”.  We constantly tussle to step away from the past, to be in a stage in between of not knowing, to forging a next step into the future. It is how we engage with this, and how are we are in this, that matters. 

What attracted you to work with USB-ED?

The range of sectors it works with. I was proud to launch a women in leadership certificate programme which we then partnered with Getsmarter/2U to offer online.

Do you have a mantra or slogan that you live by?

“There is always more around the corner”. This came from my scuba diving days when I went diving in Mozambique to swim with the dolphins. Sadly they were not up to playing with us that day! So we went on a dinghy to putter around the corner of the bay. And there was the most magnificent 16m whale shark that we got to snorkel alongside for 45 mins. Its dorsal fin alone was 1.5 m in length and it hardly twitched yet sent us churning. It was such a tranquil privilege to be next to this gentle giant. Since then I have always lived by the mantra ‘ there is always more around the corner’. We often hold onto expectations and demands, that things should be ‘just so’! And when they are not (like during the lockdown would be a good example), we often spiral and feel frustrated and even stuck. Yet if we keep moving and are truly sensing and open to what is emerging, there is always possibility and another way. These worlds hold true for us now! 

What career advice would you give yourself looking back to when you started out?

I loved that I founded my own company from the age of 28, so my advice would remain - go for it! Keep learning and keep contributing.

Tell us about a book you have recently read?

"Unlocking Leadership Mindtraps: how to thrive in complexity" by Jennifer Garvey Berger. A great framework to recognise mind traps  and those beliefs that hold us back to being effective   in these times of turbulence. Practical tools and insights are offered both for personal reflection and for supporting leaders.

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