Sara McCracken is head of marketing, research and communication for the Controlled Schools’ Support Council, the advocacy body that represents nearly half of Northern Ireland’s schools. She also co-founded Women in PR Northern Ireland. She is married to Martin and is mum to seven-year-old Maisie and Isobel (5).
Q: What advice would you give to someone starting out in business?
A: Go for it. Don’t overthink it. When I co-founded Women in PR Northern Ireland with my colleague Michelle Canning, we did so because we needed to ‘do something’ to support women in the communications industry.
While we based our programme of events on the needs of the sector, Women in PR NI has surpassed our expectations since it was launched in March 2018.
Q: Is there someone who inspires you to succeed?
A: I get inspiration on a daily basis from many of my friends, who are all juggling work, life, children, caring responsibilities and/or studies.
Q: Are school days the happiest days of your life?
A: They can be, if you have a good support network and inspirational teachers.
I think young people today are under so much pressure to meet academic ‘success’, when we should be looking at what they are achieving and the progress they are making in all sorts of areas.
Q: What is success?
A: Success is when you are happy and content in yourself.
Q: Tell me about the greatest challenge you’ve faced.
A: I haven’t faced any particular big challenges, but I find it challenging to get out of the house most mornings, what with looking for socks, brushing hair, finding shoes….
Q: If you were a super hero, what would you want your super power to be?
A: To spread kindness and empathy.
Q: What is your favourite song?
A: I love a bit of Pearl Jam or Bon Jovi.
My car radio varies between classic rock or hits of the ‘80s and ‘90s. They don’t make them like that anymore!
Q: If you weren’t in your current role what would you be?
A: I didn’t set out to do communications. I’ve a degree in zoology and genetics and I’ve held a lot of different jobs, however I love what I do and am very happy with my current role.
Q: What was your first job?
A: I was a cleaner and breakfast cook at a local B&B
Q: What has been the high point in your career?
A: I have just been awarded Fellowship of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. That is definitely a high point.
Each time I’ve got a new role I’ve also seen that as a high point.
Q: Describe yourself in three words.
A: Energetic, friendly, passionate.
Q: When was the last time you laughed out loud?
A: About a minute ago when I was asking my colleague what three words describe me!
Q: Can women have it all?
A: It depends on what your all is.
I’m content and happy with who I am, what I have and where I am, so as far as I’m concerned I do have it ‘all’.
Q: What is your favourite childhood memory?
A: Being surrounded by animals – ponies, dogs, cats, hens.
And I’m glad my girls have the same opportunities.
Q: What’s the last book you read?
A: ‘Quiet’ by Susan Cain – a really super insight into how introverted people see the world.
Q: What makes you angry?
A: I don’t generally get angry, it’s such a negative emotion.
However, the state of politics in the world concerns me. The extremes of view and acceptance of hate is becoming normalised.
Q: When you’re not in the office, where can you be found?
A: At home, hanging out with the girls.
Dogs or cats?
Tea or coffee?
Tea (made properly in a teapot).
Night owl or early riser?
I’m a night owl but need to be an early riser.
Eat out or stay in?
Heels or flats?
Summer or winter?
Chocolate or cheese?