Sarha is Practice Manager for Rouse in both Sweden and the UK, responsible for the management and development of HR and Administration functions in both countries, plus Finance in Sweden
The role of Practice Manager in a law firm calls for a dauntingly diverse range of skills, from people management to finance. Practice Managers must be good communicators, resourceful, commercially aware, well-organised, and sensitive to the needs of the business. It is obviously not a job for everyone, but for Sarha it is perfect. Her particular skill set, experience and personality combine to equip her perfectly for the job and she loves it. The Practice Manager role has become increasingly important in recent years as law firms have realised that practice management is best done by professional managers – which has the added advantage of freeing up lawyers to focus on what they do best.
In her early years, however, Sarha would never have imagined herself in such a role. At school, she didn’t find numbers at all interesting; in fact, she wanted to be a nurse. During summer breaks and after school she worked in the intensive care unit of the local hospital - and she was obviously good at it because the hospital subsequently offered to pay for her training. She had other interests at the time though and didn’t feel ready to commit to a nursing career. In particular, she had developed a love of Spanish films and the Spanish language, so she decided to go to Spain to study Spanish.
She enrolled in a one-year course at the University of Salamanca, north west of Madrid and graduated with a Diploma in Spanish, Finance and Spanish Literature before returning to her family in Taby, north of Stockholm, where she had grown up. Her intention at this point was to apply to a translation school, with a view to perhaps finding a job in the Spanish film industry. Her father was a tax lawyer in Stockholm and her mother handled the payroll at a local hospital. Neither put any pressure on Sarha to follow any particular path, although her father had insisted that she do accounting subjects in her final years of high school - and when she missed the deadline for applying to the translation school, they did suggest quite firmly that it was time she got a job.
Her father’s insistence that she do accounting subjects at school turned out to have been very wise: not only did she find an accounting job with a Swedish IT company, but her boss was “the best boss ever”, teaching Sarha the magic of numbers and setting her on the path that would ultimately lead to her present role. After a couple of years, the company was acquired and the acquiring company offered Sarha, who was by then about 25 years old, the position of Finance Manager. After several years in that role, she moved to another IT consulting company where she remained for 12 years until that company too was acquired, and then re-bought by the previous owner. She had been excited at the prospect of working for a larger organisation after the acquisition and when the company was re-bought by the previous owner, felt she was taking a step backwards, so she decided to leave.
Initially she thought of starting her own company, but then she saw an advertisement for a position with a Stockholm law firm, IPQ, and thought it sounded absolutely perfect. IPQ didn’t have a Finance Manager or CFO so it would be building from the ground up - and she would be part of a team and that was important to her. The job sounded challenging and exciting – and when she met the Managing Partner, Thomas Randes she was convinced that it would be. She was impressed by his vision for the firm. In 2019, when she had been with the firm for nine years, IPQ was acquired by Rouse: this was the third acquisition she had been involved in and, as with the others, she saw it as an opportunity. She is enjoying being part of a truly international organisation, exposed to different areas of the business and working with people around the world, gaining an understanding of life and work in other places.
In the very early years, Sarha was, to some extent, going with the flow professionally, enjoying her work and not wanting to stop to go to University. But then she realised that, in order to progress, she needed a qualification, so she went back to study and obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Finance from the IHM Business School, a private institution offering university-level courses for professionals and managers. The drive to do further study, she says, really came from the climate in which she had grown up, particularly from her mother who was highly competent and industrious - able to keep lots of balls in the air, while at the same time ensuring that each separate job was satisfactorily concluded. She was a wonderful role model.
When Sarha began working at IPQ she felt, for the first time, that she had really found her niche. Her background and broad professional experience had obviously prepared her well for the role, but just as important were her innate personal qualities: she is motivational and empathetic, while, at the same time, practical and result oriented. In many ways she is a natural leader, but her greatest satisfaction is working closely with members of the team to achieve the desired result.
When not working, Sarha enjoys spending time with her family - husband, Anders, and their 18 year old son and 15 year old daughter - and loves entertaining friends at their house, about half an hour’s drive from the centre of Stockholm. Pre-Covid they travelled extensively whenever they could and are looking forward to doing so again. Meanwhile, Sarha’s favourite city remains New York, which, given its diversity and dynamism, seems entirely appropriate.