Sara Hartill

Very few of us will pack as much into a week as alumna Sara Hartill (BSc Business Management with Communications, 2013) who regularly combines multi-million pound property sales with red carpet reviews and radio shows. Your e-Network speaks to her about a very busy three years since graduation.

You graduated from Birmingham in 2013. What are your best memories about your time here?

I definitely made life-long friends at Birmingham so for me that was a huge part of it. Thanks to both my course, sporting activities and other societies, I met like-minded people who I still see regularly. It was also at Birmingham that I made my very first steps in the world of media. I joined the Media and Television society, and within two months, I was presenting a red carpet film review show for a Sky channel which broadcast to over four million viewers. By the age of 19, I had interviewed everyone from George Clooney to Johnny Depp, and I still work in the industry today. It’s amazing how so many elements of university act as such important stepping stones. I am incredibly grateful that the teachers at Media soc gave me the confidence to step into the real working world and gain as much experience as possible.

The list of things you have achieved already is impressive! How did you find the time for your degree whilst already carving a career?

If every student is completely honest with themselves, until you reach third year, you do have a fair amount of spare time. People choose to use this in different ways and it is tempting to just go out and have an amazing social life every evening. However, I was brought up to believe in the moto that if you find something you love, you never work a day in your life. I was fortunate that I found a hobby that turned into a career and I was willing to sacrifice a few nights out for commuting down to London for work. I managed to do plenty of revision and studying on the train, and thankfully, I passed with a 2.1 and also received the prize for the most outstanding dissertation in the Business School. Time management was key, but it is in the working world, so it’s a good thing to learn at university. 

You currently have a duel career in Property and Broadcast journalism. How did that come about?

I never planned on going into media. I studied Economics, Politics and English Literature for A Levels, and I chose to study business because I knew I always wanted to go into property. I didn’t want to do a straight property degree because I thought non-cognates tended to be more well-rounded.

All of my family are in property, so I have grown up surrounded by conversations about developments, finance and changes in legislation. I love it, but I found myself being drawn to media while at Birmingham, and that sparked a new passion.

From red carpets, to radio work and presenting and producing the festival circuit for OK! Magazine, it’s been a whirlwind and has created some brilliant memories. However, a huge part of me loves business and is drawn to property. That is why I started working with my family and learning as much as I could about the residential market. I then secured a job at Inspired Asset Management (IAM), a Mayfair based property investment and development company.

I work at IAM five days a week, but I continue my work as a freelance Reporter and Presenter. Despite working full time, I still present Saturday Mids on UTV’s largest station, Signal 1, I voice Emirates Airlines’ Chart Show which airs to 27 million passengers, and I report at several red carpet events for OK! Magazine and Red Carpet News Television. I also worked at ITV News Central for six months in Birmingham, so I try to do as much freelance work with them as I can.

What have been your happiest memories and most interesting people to meet over your career so far?

I do feel very grateful for the people that I have had the chance to meet and I would urge anyone to not forget the importance of networking.

My happiest memories are probably from the red carpet when world premieres take place. The buzz of standing on the red carpet’s stage, presenting to camera and interviewing Hollywood’s biggest stars is absolutely overwhelming. The festival circuit has also been brilliant as I have had the chance to welcome huge acts onto stages in front of a massive audience. Some that stand out for me include Nile Rogers from Chic as I had just read his book before learning that I was due to interview him at V Festival,  Sam Smith, Daniel Craig, One Direction, The Rolling Stones, Katy Perry and Fleetwood Mac. All of them truly encompass that aura of star quality. You can’t quite put your finger on what it is, apart from huge amounts of confidence and charisma.

However, I also got to meet Dragon’s Den’s Theo Paphitis after securing the gig to present for the National Enterprise Challenge with ITV’s Ben Hanlin. Since I studied Business and have a huge interest in entrepreneurialism, I took the chance to really pick Theo’s mind and ask him some questions about my own ideas. (like Dragon’s Den but without the cameras and with a cup of tea). Theo was absolutely wonderful! To my surprise, he had read my bio and knew pretty much everything that I had done. He offered lots of advice and said that if I ever needed help, he was only a business card away.

What does a typical week (if there is such a thing) look like for you?

Monday to Friday 9am -6pm involves work across the Marketing of multi-million pound property developments and investor consultations. I am responsible for implementing the campaigns to ensure we sell a minimum of 50 London apartments per month, but also that we are bringing new investors on board. I am also involved with our lobbying efforts with government, as well as designing and presenting our work based on the individual SPV’s.

After work, I tend to go to one or two events per week for different outlets. This includes OK! Magazine, Red Carpet News Television, UTV and Universal Music.

On Saturday, I present my radio show on UTV 10am – 2pm, and once finished, I voice a new recording for Emirates Airlines.  I then use Saturday evening and Sunday to relax and organise my meetings and agent liaison for the following seven days.

What’s next for you?

I am about to finish my NCTJ qualification in Journalism so I am legally able to present news live on air.  In addition, I am embarking on my RICS qualification to secure my APC within the next two years, so by 2018, I will be a fully qualified chartered surveyor with a pathway in commercial property.

I hope to continue my work in media, and I am in contact with many of the television companies which produce property based shows.

I have also set myself the target of purchasing at least one residential auction project every 12 months. I am in the middle of completing all the necessary due diligence to purchase my first buy-to-flip project which will compliment my small buy-to-let portfolio in the West Midlands.