FEATURE1 February 2009

Double Lives – Sarah Hamburger

Researchers reveal how their out-of-hours pursuits affect the 9 to 5. This month we meet Sarah Hamburger, who’s a director of Spring Research, and a clay pigeon shooter for Great Britain

?Tell us about your day job
I’m a director at Spring Research. We do a lot on understanding purchase decisions for people like Unilever, Sony Ericsson and InterContinental Hotels. I’m an ex-planner and a lot of our business is with ad agencies.

Tell us about your other life
I shoot clay pigeons for Great Britain. I’ve been in the GB team for two years now. I shoot a discipline called Fitasc, which is the type that’s most like shooting real game. A target will represent an animal’s movement, and you’re not allowed to lift the gun until you can actually see the target, which I think makes it the hardest discipline to shoot. This year we won gold at the World Championship in Cyprus and silver at the European Championship in Austria. We also won gold at the 2007 World Championship in Prague. I was tenth in the world among the ladies for individual score.

Which came first?
My father’s a shooter and I used to go with him on a Sunday morning on a club shoot in Cobham. Then a few years ago I was having a new gun fitted and somebody said I should try this discipline, and it turned out I was all right at it.

How do you fit the two around each other?
I shoot at weekends. Every weekend I’m either competing or practising. If I can, I try and get out of work in the week before a big competition. I’d love to have the time to practise more but unfortunately it doesn’t quite work like that.

What does shooting offer you that research doesn’t?
I guess I’m addicted to watching pieces of clay blowing up. And I love the community aspect of it. My partner also shoots in the GB team and it’s a really good day out. It’s nice to be out in the country enjoying yourself. In terms of competing, it’s all about competing against yourself – learning how to concentrate and focus.

What does research offer you that shooting doesn’t?
Spring is a very innovative, experimental research company. In my job I get the opportunity to really push the boundaries of thinking and be innovative which I love. I also love talking to people. Part of the reason I do this job is because I find people incredibly interesting.

What does shooting teach you as a researcher?
The ability to focus on one thing. When you’re interviewing somebody it’s important that in the present moment you’re there with them rather than thinking about something else. I presented at Esomar this year, and when you’ve shot at the World Championships, standing up in front of 500 people is nothing. It teaches you to cope with anything that’s thrown at you and to think on your feet.

What does research teach you as a clay pigeon shooter?
I’ve spent a lot of time researching the best method to shoot by. If a coach tells me something, I won’t take one person’s word for it.

What do your research colleagues say when you tell them about your other life?
They’re very proud of me, particularly when we come back with medals. It’s a bit of a strange hobby – it’s hard to explain that you’re shooting bits of clay instead of animals, but they’re all very supportive.

What do your fellow shooters say when you tell them you’re really a researcher?
A lot of people who shoot are very practical people – they’re in the police or they’re builders or engineers – not the toffs people think they are. There aren’t many people with jobs like mine. They assume a researcher is somebody with a clipboard.

If you had to give up one of your two lives which would it be?
I’d give up work, but my multi-millionaire boyfriend hasn’t turned up yet.

1 Comment

15 years ago

Very interesting to learn how your two separted worlds join together and fuel each other.

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