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Hampshire Chamber strengthens team with commercial director hire

Hampshire Chamber strengthens team with commercial director hire

Hampshire Chamber of Commerce has appointed an experienced business professional to a new role of Director of Commercial Operations.


Sarah Mills is Hampshire Chamber’s new Director of Commercial Operations


Sarah Mills joins the county’s ‘voice of business’ as the latest step in a career going back more than 25 years.

The Sheffield University graduate has worked in multiple service and product-based sectors and at firms of all sizes from start-ups and SMEs to a FTSE100 company.

She was most recently the operations director for specialist recruitment agency 1to1 Group based near Winchester.

Before that, she had senior roles in the horticulture industry as Head of Wholesale for Romsey-based Hillier Nurseries and Commercial Manager at Double H Nurseries in New Milton. Welcoming Sarah onboard, Ross McNally, Chief Executive and Executive Chair of Hampshire Chamber, said:

“We are excited to appoint Sarah to such an important and progressive role within the Chamber.

“The importance of reaching out to our membership and ensuring our programme of support meets their current and future business needs is at the heart of the decision to make this investment in our success.

“Sarah’s experience and skills will prove a perfect fit, supporting our well-established team.”

Sarah began her career as a confectionery buyer for a national chain of convenience stores, an experience which she believes has given her lasting skills.

“I learned early on how important it is for any business to deliver a consistently positive customer experience, work as a team and constantly innovate to deliver growth,” she said. “I then moved into account management for one of the UK’s largest suppliers of cut flowers importing product from all over the world to supply supermarkets here.

“This led to leadership positions in sales and marketing and commercial, where I was accountable for fresh ranges and products, managing complex supply chains and developing new sales channels in the USA.

“While most of my career has been spent working with private SMEs, I have also worked for the FTSE100 company British American Tobacco.

“My time there honed my project management skills. I was managing global project teams and realising the importance of collaboration.

“The sheer size of such a business meant it was vital to have a clear vision, purpose, strategy and financial discipline, particularly in product investment opportunities, to ensure robust decision making.”

Sarah, who has also studied at Syracuse University in upstate New York, added:

“I have always enjoyed the roles I have held during my career so far and am immensely proud of the businesses I’ve worked in and led, the fantastic teams and individuals I have had the privilege of working alongside and the many achievements we accomplished.

“I have learnt many lessons in my 25 years. They include how to manage time effectively, demonstrate adaptability and flexibility, and maintain a readiness to step beyond my comfort zone.

“My most recent role, in specialist recruitment, was in a sector that is highly sensitive to economic fluctuations and reacts quickly to events so the recent political turmoil, international conflict, rising interest rates, increasing unemployment and talent shortages has meant that business agility has been key.

“It involved keeping sales activity and smooth operations at the forefront while ensuring process, procedure and compliance remained secure.

“I always keep my mind open for opportunity and products and services that could be improved, processes that can be refined.

“I try to look to continuous improvement, forever keeping in my mind that the customer is key to growth and success.

“My career and business moves have all helped shape the person I am today, and I count the courage to embrace new challenges as one of my many strengths.

“I am genuinely looking forward to supporting the Chamber in its ongoing development, continued growth and long-term success.”


About Hampshire Chamber of Commerce

Hampshire Chamber of Commerce is the independent voice of local business across the county and one of the largest regional business networks in the UK. With a strategic vision to ‘unlock Hampshire’s potential’, Hampshire Chamber brings together the combined influence, strength and expertise of the county’s three former major chambers. It works with over 2,000 individual firms spanning all sectors and sizes of business. Member services include training, advice, international trade documentation, events, networking opportunities and lobbying to policymakers on issues affecting business. Hampshire Chamber’s PEER network (standing for Participation, Engagement, Expertise and Reputation) is a member community designed to help any employer to grow and thrive irrespective of their stage on the enterprise journey.

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