Sophie Hainsworth

CEO & Co-Founder

Company: LoyalFree
Industry Sector: Business, Consulting and Management

A Levels: Business Economics, Theatre Studies, English Literature
Grades Achieved: AAB

University: University of Sheffield
Degree Course: BA (Hons) Economics and Management

Leaving LHS in 2008, I decided to study a broad subject degree, Economics and Management, as I kept changing my mind as to the career I wanted.  Encouraged by those around me to be a lawyer or doctor, I felt this was not going to be the path for me.  Going to university enabled me to become fully independent and gain experience with people from a range of backgrounds.

Upon graduating, I decided to move to London and embark on a Management Consultancy graduate programme at KPMG Canary Wharf. An 8-step recruitment process, it was a relief to be offered the job! Once there I quickly realised the company culture and job was not suited to me, despite my absolute initial certainty that it was.  Regardless, I stayed for 3 years gaining a broad amount of experience and training which led me to where I am now.

From there, deciding on a Marketing-focused career, I undertook several different roles; Account Manager at a PR Agency, Marketing Manager at a law firm and accountant.  I had now found the right role but knew that professional services would restrict my creativity.  Having said that, the time I spent there was invaluable to learn professional skills, in particular how to manage time effectively and prioritise work; one of the most important skills I could have learned.

In 2016 I made the decision, 5 years after graduating, to start my own business, as deep down I knew that was what I should do in order to have the freedom I desired from work and the ability to travel freely.  I wanted a job where I could work from anywhere so I could travel the world – I am currently 47 countries down and definitely pursuing this dream!

"I had now found the right role but knew that professional services would restrict my creativity. "

My current business, LoyalFree, is a phone app for towns and cities.  It lists digital loyalty schemes, events, trails and more for over 15 UK locations and is rapidly expanding.  We partner with Business Improvement Districts and we started this process in Loughborough and Leicester before expanding further throughout the UK.

Day to day, my job involves selling our business into new areas, working with local businesses and promoting the app at events. I love what I do but it requires absolute determination to succeed and willingness to go beyond.  It is certainly not a 9 til 5 job or suitable for everyone.  Working for myself has enabled me to work with a huge variety of people and every day is different, but it also comes with a certain amount of risk.  In the early stages it required going from a large London salary to not being paid and it was a struggle at times to stay motivated to continue.

Recently, LoyalFree has won numerous national awards and we are now in an expansion phase, which brings with it many new challenges, for example recruitment.  But every day I wake up knowing that I can decide what to focus on, where the business is going and that any successes are directly as a result of my work.  It’s a truly amazing feeling.

Studying Business at LHS piqued my interest early for a career in this area and I am very glad I took that subject.  I am equally as thankful for the Theatre Studies A Level, which I believe built my confidence and challenged me in a way which some core academic subjects do not.

"Every day I can wake up knowing that I can decide what to focus on, where the business is going and that any successes are directly as a result of my work - it's a truly amazing feeling."

Alumni Wisdom

Job Search Tips

Gain experience in a broad range of sectors; you may enjoy something you didn’t expect to.

Current Needs of Employers in my field

Business owners are often looking for passionate individuals who want to progress and take ownership of their work.

Things I wish I’d known in Sixth Form

Listen to what you want, not what others want for you.

Describe LHS in three words

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