Sarah Perrens Top 5 Pearls of Wisdom

Sarah Perrens – Top 5 pearls of wisdom

Sarah Perrens is EY’s Head of Graduate Recruitment for Oceania.  Her career has taken her from the UK to New York and now Sydney is where she calls home. During her 12 years at EY she has engaged with both ends of the career spectrum from those who are starting out; attracting and onboarding graduates; to managing the Partner Pipeline Program, an experiential learning journey for Directors on their path to be Leaders of the firm.

Here’s Sarah’s 5 pearls of wisdom;

If I was to give my younger self advice or to others starting out in their career:


1. Mindset over skill set
With technology progressing faster than ever, most of the skills you are learning today are at risk of being irrelevant in the near-to mid-term future. As a result, success is increasingly being defined not only by your skill set, but also by your mindset.  AT EY we stress the importance of a global, analytical and innovation mindset.  These are the mindsets that will best help you navigate a global marketplace, use data to make decisions, solve the problems and seek opportunities that don’t yet exist.  Your career will evolve numerous times, so get ready for a life-long learning journey.

2. Find your purpose
When I graduated University, I landed what I thought was my dream job as a trainee HR Manager on one of the most sought-after UK Graduate Programs.  I soon realised I didn’t want to be a HR Manager, but I loved the recruitment side of the role.  I would tell my younger self that your first job is not your last job, it’s an opportunity to experiment, explore and help you make decisions to get you closer to that dream job.
Now inspired by the work of Simon Sinek, who educates people on the importance of finding their why and their purpose in work and life, I encourage others to follow his guidance and reflect as far back as childhood on the activities you have always enjoyed and the things you are good at. This is where you start to build a picture of where your strengths lie and can start directing yourself to embark on the activities that light you up both in life and your career.

3. Live and work overseas
Family and friends thought I was crazy to leave my job and its prospects to take an internship in New York.  It turned out to the best decision I ever made, personally and professionally, combining work with exciting new travel experiences.   Building a new life overseas can be challenging, which is why not everyone does it.  But the rewards are outstanding and it really broadens your horizons and outlook.  So step out of your comfort zone and do it.
With globalisation, multinational companies such as EY encourage employees to gain international experience.  It helps them build a global mindset, knowledge of global markets and cultural awareness.  Research indicates that these attributes are critical to be a leader in a global world.

4. Opportunities don’t land in your lap
I was excited to join EY with the prospect of overseas opportunities; however the programs and openings were generally directed at client facing staff.  The advice I now give to the junior staff is to seek and ask for opportunities, don’t wait for them to come to you.  And what’s the worst that can happen, they say no! I caveat this with asking when you have built up enough value in your ‘work bank’ (tenure, performance, relationships).  I was lucky that EY said ‘yes’ to a two-year international secondment to Australia.

5. Treat yourself like a VIP – The only person who really cares about your career is you.
As a marathon runner, I know that persistence and dedication is critical to success in work and life and the best rewards and achievements are never easy and never achieved by luck alone.  However life is short and it’s important to regularly take stock of the goals you want to achieve in life and to recognise when a particular path is no longer challenging you, rewarding you or helping you grow, be that a role or relationship.  Take a flexible approach but know when it’s time to expect more for yourself and seek it.