Sarah Whurr

Project Manager – Sustainability

"My current role has literally just changed dramatically, having previously worked as an accountant at GBRf. I am currently setting up the ‘Back on Track’ programme, liasing with employees, schools and external parties to set up a mentoring scheme for Year 11 pupils. I am also working out how we change our company vehicles for electric or hybrids so we have less of an impact on the environment. I do a lot of collation of data around our environmental, social and governance impact, to report back to our owners and investors. Learning is a large part of my new role, and will be for the foreseeable future as there are so many elements to Sustainability to learn!"

Any career advice?

Take every opportunity sent your way. Don’t hesitate to push yourself, and above all believe in your own abilities as you know you better than anyone else ever will.


I completed high school but didn’t go onto sixth form or university. I really enjoyed school and would have continued if I hadn’t been offered a job during the summer holidays! My favourite subjects were Drama, Combined Sciences and Maths.

Into work

I left school at the age of almost 16 and found a job at a shipping firm called Geest, which ceased trading a long time ago. I worked at Geest until I was 19 doing roles such as traffic planning and distribution, and then I was offered my first position in Finance, with a BMW dealership. I progressed within Finance and worked for Suffolk College, and then finally I applied for a trainee accountant role with Anglia Railways, which I started at the age of almost 23. I worked at Anglia for almost 5 years, and in this time their sister company of GB Railfreight was created, and myself and a colleague (now our CFO!) ran the finance department of GBRf. Eventually we moved over to GBRf full-time and I have worked in pretty much every role within the department, until moving into my new Sustainability role.

Training and qualifications

I have been a little bit of a perpetual studier during my career as I enjoy learning something new. I completed my AAT (accounting) qualification, and then I progressed to the CIMA qualification. I really enjoyed studying the subject of accountancy, but I was not very good at taking the exams! This led me to finishing CIMA part-qualified when I was in my late 20s. I then didn’t study again until I was 40, which was when I enrolled for a degree with The Open University. My degree was classed as an ‘Open’ degree, and I was able to choose subjects that I was interested in like Project Management, Strategic Management, Marketing, Professional Communication and I completed my advanced accountancy modules (finally!). My age, increased confidence and new study techniques enabled me to tackle the dreaded exams head on and after studying for 7+ years I graduated earlier this year with a first-class honours degree and have never been more proud of myself!

Outside of work

I always find time to eat and be merry! I love spending time with friends and family and have a cavapoo called Benji whom I adore too much, and love taking him on walking holidays in The Lakes. I’ve recently started sewing too and am taking lessons so that I can be a little more practical around the house.