Sarah Harber
Sarah Harber
Old Bedalian 2007

Have you undertaken any kind of further study since leaving Bedales and have you gained any further qualifications?

I studied Economics and Politics at Sussex and achieved a 2:1, graduating in 2010.

What kind of work are you currently involved in, and how and why have you come to be doing it?

I'll start at the beginning. I graduated in 2010 and thought I wanted to be an accountant. I approached all the big firms and didn’t get past the abilities assessment; I was lost, and would have ended up working as a shop manager. It was suggested that I do a bit of traveling to give myself a break after three years of hard work not amounting to what I wanted it to. The trip I chose was a bus tour around Europe for a month, unbeknownst to me it was me, two other English girls and thirty Australians. The Australian nature is infectious and shook me to my English stiff upper lip core. I came home and bought a one way ticket to Australia to see where life would take me. I have now lived in Canberra for nearly four and a half years and will be becoming an Australian citizen in June.

I work as an Economic and Business Policy Adviser at the Australian Trucking Association, the peak body representing trucking operators in Australia, in Canberra. It was stroke of luck that I got the job as I just arrived in Australia and was temping at one of the ATA member associations and the ATA needed help running their annual conference. I was doing the usual ushering in of delegates and started talking to one of the ATA managers, turned out they were looking for an economic adviser and I went for an interview and the rest is history! I have been working here for nearly four years.

I mainly write submissions to government agencies representing the ATA members on issues such as tax for small business, fuel tax, productivity, fuel security and some technical Australian design rules. I also attend meetings with Federal Government Departments (Tax and Infrastructure) and have presented to a couple of Senate hearings on heavy vehicle taxes and road supply.

I was the ATA alternative Board member for the Heavy Vehicle Charging and Investment reform which was looking at implementing mass distance location charging on trucks in Australia. The cost and complexity of implementing such a scheme would have sent the industry to the wall so we fought hard to get the project shut down, and it was.

One of the most interesting projects I worked on was a PwC report on the future of heavy vehicle charging and road reform:

I also run our ATA Council and various committees and review statistics relevant to the industry. I am looking for my next challenge and am hoping to work in the Federal Government – The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, the Productivity Commission or the Department of Agriculture. The ultimate goal for me is to work in policy that helps to improve people’s lives.

Did attending Bedales help you in getting to where you are now and how satisfied are you with what you are doing?

I would say that Bedales' non-hierarchical philosophy has helped me to easily fit myself into Australian culture, which has no class system and which lends itself to having workplaces (or at least mine) where a hierarchy is not installed nor wanted. 

Out of all the teaching that I underwent one teacher stands out for me as the driving force and the voice of encouragement in my head, even today. John Scullion was my Economics teacher in 6.1 and 6.2 .Without the extra time he spent tutoring me one on one I would not be doing what I do today. It only takes one teacher to make a difference in a student’s life and John made that difference to mine.

I am happy with where I am. I never considered a career in policy before I stumbled upon it, I think if I would have been aware of it a bit more at university I could have focused my job search in the UK a bit better.

Have you been involved in any other interesting activities or occupations since leaving school?

Hmm not really outside the normal sports, skiing, sewing and reading. I have been exposed to the Australian farming industry through my partners family farm in NSW, so I have become an apprentice farm hand by sorts – I have helped round up sheep, cattle and train the farm dogs, which I have quite enjoyed!