We took the opportunity to speak with Sarah Fox, our Chief Operating Officer and Company Secretary, who was appointed a director on 1 January this year.
Sarah brings to the board both a deep knowledge of Hyphen as well as an understanding of professional governance and leadership, being an affiliate member of Chartered Institute of Governance UK & Ireland, a member of the International Compliance Association and a Fellow of both the Institute of Administrative Management and Institute of Leadership and Management. Notably, Sarah is the first director to be appointed from the business operations side of Hyphen which is now rightly represented on the board.
Congratulations on becoming a director! What are your expectations in this new role? What will be new or different?
Thank you! It is a meaningful milestone for me and for Hyphen. I am looking forward to working with the board as we lead the business through some exciting and positive developments coming up this year. There will be challenges ahead, but I hope to influence some positive change and help strengthen our business operations for the benefit of everyone.
What are you most looking forward to in 2023?
Being involved in leading some of the changes ahead. I always enjoy working with Eddie Miles (CEO) and Tony Luck (CFO) as part of the Triumvirate and I look forward to that continuing in my new role. We have different skills but share a similar vision for Hyphen, which makes us a strong team.
You are the first non-architect to progress to director at Hyphen. Tell us what it means to you personally, and to others in the business operations side of Hyphen?
I am fortunate to have been working closely with the board for over four years in my role as Company Secretary and, more recently, as COO. It is an honour and a privilege to now be working with the board as a director. I am a champion of the Hyphen Values, and my appointment strengthens Hyphen’s value “We embrace the future today”. I hope people can see that Hyphen gives everyone the same opportunity. Everyone has something valuable to contribute, so I will always encourage the ambitions of everyone in the business, whatever their role.
What advice do you have for others aspiring to be a Hyphen director in the future?
Take personal responsibility for your own career development and never stop finding ways to learn new things. Everything you learn will build and influence your character in ways that go beyond technical knowledge. Find something that inspires you to be a role model and a positive influence. Encourage confidence and motivation in others. The best leaders are not those who promote themselves, but those who lead others and make other people shine. They don’t tell people what to do, they show them the way.
What do you consider to be your secret work superpower?
I have a few that I rely on, but the best one is empathy. Hearing what people say is very important but focusing on what they are not saying (but expressing in other ways) is sometimes critical to understanding what it feels like to be in their shoes.
You are a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management; how does that help with your role at Hyphen?
It opens up opportunities to share what I have learned in my amazing journey towards becoming a director. I started in a junior role at Hyphen. I know what that feels like, and I am grateful for the people that have travelled alongside me, trusting, teaching, supporting, and inspiring me. If I can share that experience and help other people develop, that would be really rewarding.
What might people not know about yourself?
On a personal level, I have always had a fascination for birds of prey, particularly owls. If you catch me at home on a Teams call, you will see I have some of my photos of birds of prey in the background.
As for my professional life, before moving into governance and business operations, I spent over 20 years working closely in the finance side of Hyphen, handing over to Tim Amor in 2018. He has done a great job in building up the strength of the finance team. I have always valued and appreciated the friendship and support from that team.
Sarah’s career timeline
1986 – graduated with a music degree from Cambridge College of Arts and Technology/Cambridge University
1987 – attained a diploma for personal assistants with the Royal Society of Arts
1987 – joined Hyphen in Winchester as an Admin Assistant
2000 – became Practice Manager
2004 – attained an MBA from the University of Southampton
2018 – joined Hyphen’s Executive in the role of Governance and achieved a professional development award from the Chartered Institute of Governance UK and Ireland
2019 – became the Company Secretary for The Hyphen Group Ltd and Hyphen Archi Ltd in the UK
July 2020 – became Chief Operating Officer
November 2020 – achieved an Advanced Certificate in Corporate Governance
January 2021 – became the Company Secretary for Hyphen Archi Ireland Ltd
May 2021 – completed the Executive Leadership Programme at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford with the final assessment mark of 99%
June 2021 – became a fellow of the Institute of Administrative Management
July 2021 – became a fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management
2022 – joined the International Compliance Association and now studying for a Professional Post Graduate Diploma in International Governance Risk and Compliance, hoping to qualify in July 2023
2023 – began role as Director at Hyphen.