After graduating from Newnham College, Cambridge, Sarah joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and worked as a diplomat, both in London and overseas, serving in Israel, Washington, Senegal, Macedonia and Croatia. From 2000-2003 she was HM Ambassador in Estonia.
Midway through her FCO career, Sarah took seven years out, while her children attended secondary school in this country, and worked for Cambridge City Council and for the Central Office of Information. She served as a Magistrate in Cambridge from 1992 to 2007.
From 2006-2014 she was President of Hughes Hall, one of the primarily postgraduate colleges of Cambridge University, and for six years was concurrently one of the team of deputy Vice Chancellors of the University. She is also a lay member of the chapter of Ely Cathedral.
She joined the Board of United Learning in 2013.