What I've Learnt: Sarah De Martin, MD at Artefact UK

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by Charlie Spargo

Artefact's Managing Director is Sarah De Martin, who previously spent time at OMD, Initiative, and Starcom Mediavest Group.

The agency, which promises to use an "engineering mindset" in digital marketing, was launched in the UK in 2018. De Martin joined Artefact in January 2019, saying she was excited about its entrepreneurial spirit.

She's worked hard on all aspects of the business, but has given a special focus to voice technology. Previous experience at P&G means she intimately understands FMCG, where voice technology is gaining the most traction.

We found out the lessons Sarah has learned.

Which single daily habit or practice could you not do without? 

A cup of tea in the morning, the moment I wake up. Needs must!

What's your best failure?

When taking a company through rapid transformation, changes and decisions happen quickly. These aren’t failures per se, but the impact of this process is obviously unsettling - each time, I try to mitigate the human cost to this. Because it’s not just numbers on a page or quotas to be filled - it’s people’s lives. 

What is the best investment you've ever made, either financial or time? 

Something I really believe in, and see the benefits of, is executive coaching and mentoring - specifically from someone who understands your industry. Having an external perspective can be so valuable when it comes to making key decisions. It’s an absolute game-changer, and I now ensure that my senior leadership team has the option to access this.

How would you describe your work/life balance?

I try to allow myself to switch off - it’s important for everyone, but I’m much more lenient on others taking down-time than on myself! I’m a lover of horses and equestrian sport, and outside of the office I am a keen dressage rider - it’s been a passion since I was a young child. Horses have a way of keeping me grounded. 

Which book would you recommend others to read and why?  

'The Tattooist of Auschwitz'. It’s horrifying and heart warming at the same time. If there’s only one book you read on Nazi history, this should definitely be top of the list. An incredible story of human faith and perseverance.

What one piece of advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

Listen more, and don’t instantly react - think first. Please! 

Who or what has had the single biggest influence on your working life?

I’ve worked alongside many great leaders who I’ve learnt a huge amount from. I have also learnt from the... not so great leaders. However, there is a particular person I keep going back to throughout my career journey: Tim Smale. He’s a brilliant performance coach who works with the mind as well as the everyday practicalities to ensure you can achieve your best, and most importantly give people your best.

I recently introduced him to Artefact and ran his sessions across all levels and skillsets, and there was an overwhelmingly positive response.

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

I am lucky enough to have access and train with some of the best horse riders in the UK - those who train with Olympic teams!

What does success look like to you? 

 Achieving my personal career and life goals. The former is competing more often in dressage and pursuing that passion on a larger scale; the latter is to transform companies in ways that realise the growth potential for the business and everyone working there.

Then, after that, I can take a well-deserved break!