Her Business Story: Sarah Kelly, CEO Stagecoach Performing Arts

stagecoach performing arts

In today’s Her Business Story here at A League of Her Own, we meet Sarah Kelly who is the CEO of Stagecoach Performing Arts

Sarah tell us all about Stagecoach

At Stagecoach, we believe that everyone has potential but potential is nothing if it is not realised. We unlock children’s ability to accomplish on the stage of life by teaching them performing arts, we call that giving Creative Courage for Life.

We were founded in 1988 as one of the leading part-time performing arts schools, today we are a thriving franchise network of over 650 Performing Art Schools across 9 countries in 5 continents teaching Creative Courage to over 45,000 children every week.

What made you decide to become a marketeer?

I love being creative, visually and mentally, never happier than when I have coloured pens in my hand, creating a new vision or filling an emerging gap! I also love trying to understand people and making them happy, I’m a people pleaser and a good marketer understands their customer and tries to fulfil their needs and anticipate their wants.

How long did it take for you to reach senior management?

8 years

What has been your scariest moment at board level?

Nothing is really scary, if you have a good working relationship with your chairman, supportive investors and great management team then you can usually work through most emergencies – I try not to think too much about the buck stops with me.

What has been your proudest moment?

Giving birth to my daughter! Life outside the boardroom is what really matters!!

What is the biggest lesson you have learned from your time in business?

So many, here’s a few that guide me…

“If it’s to BE it starts with be ME” – you are your inner guidance and you make the best decisions you can with the information you have at the time

Ultimately, we all have choices in life and it is you who chooses the most effective response “E+R=O” (event+response=outcome)

Finally, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got” – change is good! … oh and “failure is just good feedback for the future”!

What does success mean to you?


Has a mistake ever led you to success?

All the time… if we don’t learn from our mistakes we would never move forward. Make it once though – it’s foolish to make the same mistake twice!

Which women inspire you?

In the early days (1980s) it was Anita Roddick, nowadays I realise it was my Mum!

And which men?

Hard one really. I did have a FAB CEO when I was at Warner Bros and he taught me patience (believe me that was hard as a Marketing Director) and how a good CEO is simply a good conductor of an orchestra and you need to make sure your instruments are all in tune, playing at the right time and in the right parts, then you can create a symphony. Surround yourself with good people and it’s ok to have weaknesses… just plug the holes with good people in your team.

What one thing do you wish someone had told you when you first started out?

Don’t make your job define who you are as a person.

What’s the best piece of business advice someone has ever given you?

Always do something you love and enjoy, then you will never work a day in your life… my Mum.
… oh and plans should always be written in pencil, that’s why we have erasers!

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