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Sarah Porter

Sarah Porter

Sarah Porter, CEO & Founder, UN Advisor LAWS

  • Location: Oxford, UK 

  • Title: CEO & Founder 

  • Company: Inspired Minds 

  • Sector: Artificial Intelligence & Technology 

  • Degree: BA Psychology from King's College London. Currently studying for a MA in Neuroscience and Psychology (part-time)

How does your usual day look like?

Firstly, I see my children off to school, drink a black and strong coffee and then I head to the gym or for a run. I am an endurance swimmer and I have also just started trail running, I have completed 4 trail half marathons up mountains this year inspired by my partner Julian Jamison (he has run things like Hardrock and the Barkley marathon so a hardcore "real" ultra-runner) and my son Sam who is an amazing athlete.

I am currently training to run the UTTV Slovenia 60-100k race (not decided which distance yet) - I love to test myself to the limit and endurance sport really parallels founder life very well - it is about endurance, grit and pain limits.

I was super lucky to have won a competition to receive 4 months of coaching from a super cool runner called Dave bone from Camino training - he is putting me through some hardcore plans, so my day usually starts with exercise of some sort. I then work for three to four hours on my business - InspiredMinds - cook tea for my kids and then evenings are usually spent working or if I am lucky then reading.

What are the things you like the most about your job?

The impact we make as an organisation - we have accomplished amazing things from building the world's largest community in AI, to evacuating over 150 Afghan nationals from Kabul: it is incredible to witness what impact we are making in the world and that fuels my fire like nothing else.

What are some of the skills you utilise the most in your day-to-day at work?

Ability to strategise and see the future. Comfort with uncertainty.

What was one of your happiest days in your career and why?

When we received notification that the Afghan robotics teams, and their families had safely made it onto evacuation flights at Kabul airport. We received a text at 4 a.m. confirming that despite all odds and after 5 days of the hardest moments I have ever bore witness to - they had made it onto military evac planes.

What was the toughest career decision you ever made?

Letting go and falling headlong into the abyss of the great unknown.

What is something you had to learn to become better at your work?

Hiring people that are better at my job than I am.

How did you get to become a CEO and Founder?

You are bold and courageous, and you work very, very hard.

What's the one piece of career advice you have for anyone interested in following your footsteps?

Prepare to fail then execute to win.

What's your number one productivity hack / when or how are you most effective?

Micro bite tasks - break down big tasks into small chunks then prioritise them. Do the urgent first. Aim to hack three things a day and do it well.

What makes you gracefullyBOLD?

Fear setting - identify your risks and fears. Feel the worst-case scenario, visualise it then mitigate like hell to ensure it doesn't happen.

How do you spend your weekend or downtimes?

In search of the great 'what if'? I am an adventurer at heart and as cliched as it sounds, I thrive on challenges be that physical or mental. I fill my time seeking out new adventures through travel or the great outdoors... with my loved ones or alone.

How do you deal with stress and build resilience?

Resilience is a muscle - the more you test it, the more your experience pushes you hard, the better you get. Push hard, do hard things, and say yes to the tough.

What would have been your alternative career path or alternative University degree?

Psychiatry / Author

Who is a female professional that inspired you along your career journey? What did she do / say / or what are the character traits and professional skills she uses.

Too many amazing women have inspired me along the way: Professor Virginia Dignum (computer scientist), Professor Celeste Kidd (psychologist), Cindy Gallop (businesswoman), Dr Kay Redfield Jamison (psychiatrist and author) , Clementine Churchill (her bio), Saghar Salehi (all girl Afghan robotics team) and my daughter Amelia (marine scientist). They are all incredible women who have achieved unbelievable things in their respective fields. They inspire me greatly.

What's the last thing you learnt?

That Zebrafish can regrow and replace lost parts of their hearts in a matter of weeks. Handy.

If you could time-travel and meet any leader, who/where would that be?

Richard Feynman maybe, Paul Farmer or Simona Kossak. Sure there are more but they spring to mind.

The one question we didn't ask you but you'd like to answer?

  • Question: What's the meaning of life?

  • Answer: 42

One word answers & quick fire round. Let's go!

  • Your superpower: I make a mean gruyere souffle.

  • Favourite restaurant: E&O Notting Hill

  • Favourite fashion brand: Wolf and Badger

  • Favourite beauty product: Chanel

  • Favourite perfume: Chanel

  • Book recommendation: Clementine by Sonia Purnell or Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl.

  • Next holiday destination: Whistler Blackcomb

  • Your hobby: The great outdoors

  • Who inspires you: My three amazing children and my partner Julian

  • Tea or Coffee: Coffee

  • Red wine or White wine: Beer

  • Morning bird or Night owl: Morning bird

  • Cat person or Dog person: Dog person

Thank you Sarah for sharing your journey & wisdom with us!

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