Sarah Magnell

Sarah Magnell

Postgraduate Research Student

Degree: Bachelor of Arts

Current Position: Member and Partner, Panorama

1. What attracted you to studying Arts & Social Sciences at UNSW?

I was attracted to studying at UNSW because of its exceptional reputation as a university. I enjoyed studying arts and social science subjects in high school, in particularly history, so I was keen to pursue this at university. The faculty of Arts and Social Sciences had a strong reputation and I was interested in many of the subjects on offer. 

2. Did you always have a clear idea of what you wanted to do after completing your degree? 

I originally planned to study graduate law after my Bachelor of Arts degree, however, after working as a paralegal in a law firm for several years, I realised that I was better suited to a career that was more relationship focussed.  

It was through a family friend that I stumbled upon executive search (which is recruiting executives into leadership positions). I have now been an executive search consultant for 13 years.  

3. How did your time at UNSW help shape who you are today? 

UNSW was instrumental in shaping the person I am today. In addition to formal study, I was involved in Yellow Shirts, Med and Law Revues, and the theatre society (NUTS). I met lifelong friends through these extracurricular activities, whom I keep in touch with today. I also learned valuable skills such as creativity, leadership, collaboration, and adaptability, that have served me well throughout my life.  

I took advantage of the exchange program at UNSW and spent several months in Lund, Sweden. This whet my appetite for further global travel and opened my eyes to new and different cultures. 

4. How did studying Arts & Social Sciences at UNSW help you develop transferable skills? 

Studying a Bachelor of Arts taught me how to think and write. Critical thinking, communications, research, problem solving... were all key skills I learned throughout my time studying at UNSW.  

In my view, the ability to communicate clearly is the most useful and transferable skill one can have in the workplace. 

5. How did studying Arts & Social Sciences at UNSW help form your view on the world and the contemporary issues we face today? 

My major area of study was history. I learned how important it is for humanity to understand the past (and particularly the mistakes made), so we avoid doing it again in the future.  

Additionally, for my honours’ thesis, I was able to focus on an unique aspect of Swedish history, which was fascinating, given my own Swedish family background. In studying history at UNSW, I was able to discover parts of my own family and cultural history.  

6. How did UNSW Arts & Social Sciences help prepare you for the workforce throughout your degree? 

My degree at UNSW taught me critical thinking, communication skills, and problem solving, which were instrumental in preparing me for the workforce.  

More importantly, university also gave me confidence in myself, a characteristic that is often underestimated in the workforce.  

7. How did you get your foot in the door as a graduate, following the completion of your degree? 

I was fortunate to have a family friend introduce me to the executive search industry. While this introduction gave me a ‘foot in the door’, I was offered the role because of my skills and experience. Also having a casual job that gave me experience, and my extra-curricular activities helped to give me an edge over other candidates.  

8. What advice would you give to someone considering studying Arts at UNSW? 

Firstly, I think anyone considering an arts (or any) degree, should study subjects that they enjoy. If you study what you enjoy, then chances are, you will be good at it. It will not feel like hard work!  

Secondly, an arts degree can take you many places. An arts degree introduced me an industry I did not even know existed prior to university. It also helped to take me abroad to Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Spain.  

9. What is your most memorable experience from your time at UNSW? 

My most memorable experience was being involved in the UNSW revues. They were intense but incredibly fun and happy experiences. Through these I met longstanding friends, developed lifelong skills, and gained special memories.  

10. Why do you Love What You Do? 

I love what I do because I have the privilege of working with talented leaders who are world class at what they do. I help to recruit executives and leaders who lead interesting and important organisations.