Sarah shares her journey to being awarded a BEM and Chartered Manager of the Year

University of Central Lancashire Management graduate, Sarah Gardner BEM, continues to make a positive impact in the community and in business, having recently being awarded the Chartered Manager of the Year award by the Chartered Institute of Management.

BA (Hons) Management graduate, Sarah, has also been awarded the Thames Valley Community Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Community. Something she is "very proud of".

In addition to this, Sarah was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the New Year’s Honours List 2022 for meritorious service during the COVID pandemic. The award came after 20 years of volunteering in the charitable sector, where Sarah’s volunteered for many charities and has even set up her own charities. This is all in addition to her day job as a Project Manager for Counter Terrorism Policing HQ.

In 2022, Sarah also became one of the first ever recipients of the UCLan inaugural Alumni Achievement Awards where she was recognised for undertaking more than 20 years of volunteering and charity work.

Alongside her working life, Sarah started volunteering when she became a Marie Curie work-based representative in her workplace, where she was tasked with raising awareness and fundraising for the charity. Sarah was inspired to help when her uncle was sadly diagnosed with cancer.

This work sparked a desire to help more charities so Sarah spent a month volunteering in Thailand, became the trustee of a food bank, vice-chair of a credit union and the president of a local Rotary club. She also joined the Army Cadet Force as an instructor. Since the Coronavirus pandemic hit, Sarah has set up three new charities: Serving Our Superheroes, Wellbeing For All and CHEF (Community Health Education and Food Project).

Sarah Gardner BEM, BA (Hons) Management graduate and UCLan Alumni Achievement Award recipient
Sarah Gardner BEM, BA (Hons) Management graduate and UCLan Alumni Achievement Award recipient

Sarah has had a remarkable journey since graduating from UCLan, after which she secured a place on a graduate programme in retail management. From there, she went into marketing and worked her way up to become a Marketing Manager. This was followed by a career change into investigation and enforcement, where Sarah worked in public safety in the public sector. Sarah also worked as a Project and Transformation Manager for a local authority in London.

After a stint of working in the public sector, Sarah moved into the private sector where she worked for a start-up as an IT Project Manager. In her role, Sarah implemented a new IT system alongside designing new processes and cost saving measures. During her time at the start-up, Sarah ended up managing all the strategic programmes across the company as well as managing social values, marketing and mental health and wellbeing.

Sarah then moved onto managing a national project for the College of Policing and then to project management for Counter Terrorism Policing HQ.

Currently, Sarah is a Project Manager where she works on large national change programmes. Talking about her varied career to date, Sarah said: “I like working somewhere where I make a difference and improve the lives of others. This is what I like about being part of public safety.”

"What will stay with me is the friendships I made. Despite the distance, I still keep in contact with my friend who was my best friend at the time."

Sarah Gardner, BA (Hons) Management graduate

When asked about what advice she would give to those wanting to do something similar, Sarah said: "Take all of the opportunities you are offered. Undertake some voluntary work. It’s great to help others and learn new skills at the same time, which can also enhance your CV. it also gives you a different perspective on life and opens your mind. It’s also important to love what you do.”

As well as being awarded the BEM, Sarah won the Hounslow and West London Chamber of Commerce Business Awards for Best Charity 2019/2020 and the Best Entrepreneurial award 2020/2021. Sarah has also received various international awards including several Stevie Awards and Golden Bridge Awards.

In addition to all of this, Sarah has received the Great British Care Award (London region) and The Orbit - Thriving Communities/Better Days Award, as well as a British Citizen Medal.

Reflecting on her lasting memories at UCLan, Sarah said: “What will stay with me is the friendships I made. Despite the distance, I still keep in contact with my friend who was my best friend at the time. Whenever I travel up north we try and meet up. Additionally, academically a lot of the lessons and tools I learnt I still refer to and apply to my current job roles.