01 Jun 2023

New Chief Executive joins ITI

Sara Crofts has taken up the reins at the UK’s leading professional association for translators and interpreters.
Sara Crofts

Following the retirement of Paul Wilson, Sara Crofts has taken over as Chief Executive at ITI. Sara grew up in Ayrshire and trained as an architect at Edinburgh College of Art before embarking on a further training programme run by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB). She went on to work for SPAB for several years in a variety of roles including volunteer training. While with SPAB one of Sara’s projects won a Europe Nostra Award, an organisation she is still involved with today as a Council member, chair of Europe Nostra UK and as a member of the European Cultural Heritage Awards jury.

Sara has extensive experience of the membership sector. The SPAB is a membership organisation, the understanding of which held her in good stead when she took up the role of CEO at the Institute of Conservation (Icon) in 2019. She explains: “Icon is similar to ITI in that it is a professional membership body that advocates for the profession, promotes professional standards and encourages CPD among its members.” Icon also has many special interests groups and Sara counts among her achievements creating much greater collaboration between the office team and these groups. She was also responsible for developing Icon as a much more outward looking organisation, developing a new strategy, and implementing a new website and customer database – which happens to be the same system that ITI uses.

After four successful years at Icon, Sara was looking for a new opportunity. “My time at Icon made me realise that I am really interested in membership bodies and how they adapt to be successful and sustainable in the medium and longer term” she explains. “So I was looking for a new opportunity to take the skills and knowledge I’d recently acquired and put them to good use in a new field.”

She continues, “The role at ITI appealed because communication has played a key role in every job I have worked in to date and I could readily see the relevance and importance of the work of ITI members to individuals and to society more broadly. Members play a vital role in a vast range of fields – medicine, commerce, law, the arts, international relations etc – but I could see that this is not recognised and appreciated as much as it should be. So I was inspired by the opportunity to try to make a difference in this respect. I could also see that ITI has great potential and it’s exciting to be able to work with an organisation where there is such a warm and supportive membership and a real sense of community.”

Before starting officially on 22 May, Sara attended One Day in Harpenden, which was the perfect opportunity to meet ITI members for the first time. Her impression? “You like to talk! Hardly a surprise for a profession that is all about language and communication, but there was a genuine buzz in the room which was great to see.”

Looking forward to her time at the ITI helm, Sara recognises the Institute faces similar challenges to many modest-sized membership bodies. “Our small numbers (compared to other sectors) can make it difficult to get our voice heard, but there are strategies that we can employ to address this – sharing a clear and concise message that showcases the value of what our members do is key. And engaging more with policymakers and those with influence. I would also like to build on the collaborations and partnerships that we already have – so that we can amplify our voice on key messages.”

Sara also paid tribute to outgoing Chief Executive, Paul Wilson. "I am lucky to be joining an organisation in fine fettle. Over the last 10 years Paul has done an outstanding job of strengthening our governance structures and encouraging a business-like approach. This is a firm foundation for ongoing success."