Sarah Johnson: Chief Adviser for Government, Met Office

Sarah Johnson: Chief Adviser for Government, Met Office

Biggest professional achievement to date

Every stage of my career has given me something to be proud of and I think it’s important to recognise these achievements, no matter how small, and draw strength from them. It’s all too easy to focus on the things you wish you did another way – learn from them, but don’t let them stop you trying new things.

Some of the proudest moments in my career have been where I have worked with exceptional experts in tackling emergencies or developing major policies – drawing on the best science and modeling to inform decision making around the Fukushima disaster; working with dedicated policy teams to develop support schemes for renewable energy (despite challenges); and recently working with amazing meteorologists and scientists to prepare for Hurricane Irma hitting the Caribbean and ensure response efforts were conducted safely.

But it’s hard to top being chosen as a Future World Leader and meeting equivalents from around the world when I was 17. All downhill from there really!


Most profound, life-changing, business moment

Attending COP, the global climate change conference, in Mexico as part of the UK ministerial delegation was one of the most positively inspiring times of my career. It represented the culmination of years of effort from teams across the world to draft agreements which world leaders could sign. I met individuals from a huge range of countries, backgrounds, different sectors, different stages in their careers – all brought together in one place with one aim under the incredible leadership of Mexican Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa who is now Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. It was an exhausting time but the enthusiasm and will to make good things happen was infectious and life affirming.


Best life advice ever received

Choose jobs in areas that interest you. The same applies for courses. You’ll learn more, enjoy it more and do better. You’re more likely to meet people that interest you and be inspired.


Advice for a young woman stepping into the world from school, college or uni

Don’t restrict yourself. Take a wide look at the world and what you might want to do, choose something you feel passionate about if you can. I’d also say there’s no rush to get to the top; the experience you get early in your career is invaluable, make the most of it.


Which book has had the greatest influence on your life?

I can’t choose just one, but Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” was an empowering and motivational read. I’ve also recently read a book of speeches by Irish President Michael D Higgins called “When Ideas Matter” – using his gift for words and philosophy to look at some of the major ethical challenges facing modern countries.


If you could make one change to the world

Aside from the global challenges of addressing poverty, climate change and women’s education worldwide, I’d find a way to reduce the pressure of social media on young people. There are many positives from greater connectedness but I don’t know how I would have managed, if it was around when I was in school.


What does 2018 hold for you?

A busy year at work with many major projects reaching their final stages and the weather always keeps us on our toes! But luckily I love my job and the people I work with. Outside of work, I love being in the outdoors so definitely making more time for that.


Heartfelt belief

It’s not just what you do – it’s how you do it. Be nice to people.


“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”



Grow Exeter Magazine launched the ‘100 Most Influential Women 2018’ in Exeter and the region in December 2017 and we received around 500 nominations for influential women from all walks of life; our panel was spoilt for choice and hard-pressed to select only 100 from the talented nominees that they viewed.  The Launch of the ‘100 Most Influential Women’ awards in 2018 has perhaps even more value than in any other year as it was just 100 years ago that the first woman was granted the right to vote in the UK.

Women have truly shown that they can shine in any environment, whether that be in the boardroom, teaching our children, climbing mountains, navigating uncharted waters, they can do anything that they set their mind to and we can’t wait to celebrate our own talented 100.

Honouring women in our March edition of Grow Exeter fell in line with International Women’s Day on the 8th March and the 100 finalists have each been featured in this special edition. To see the 100 finalists individually featured, please grab a copy of our March edition by ordering through the link below. We will be publishing each woman online throughout March and April so keep an eye on our Facebook page or website for their stories.

A huge congratulations to everyone nominated and to the #100WomenExeter, you are all amazing!



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