Please Wait a Moment

Location: United Kingdom

Sarah Draper

Royal Mail Group Ltd

Director of Internal Audit and Risk Management

What is your professional background and how did you become involved in the world of commerce and contracting? 

I started my journey into commerce and contracting in 1995 when I started my training contract at Goodman Derrick in London.  Over the past 25 years, I’ve spent 10 years in Central Government where I advised on some of their most significant and strategically important deals at that time. This includes the establishment of the first public private 50 50 joint venture (NHS Shared Business Services Ltd) which during COVID enabled £36 bn payments to be processed to NHS organisations and over £1 m of urgent salary payments to the additional NHS workers.  Since 2013 I’ve been in Royal Mail, where I’ve held 3 roles  - each a promotion. During this time I’ve been part of the IPO team, led the legal streams of the Information Technology Service Transformation for the Group (its largest IT transformation), led the legal strategy for its move to a new data platform and led the legal work streams for the Future Parcels Network, the Group’s current transformation programme to move the Group into a Parcels led business.

What are two personal achievements and contributions through your career. 


I created the Strategic Transactions Team in 2016 after looking at the big picture and strategy of the Royal Mail Group and realising that a mixed discipline team across corporate, technology, IP and data would be needed to drive the legal work streams for delivering the strategic direction of the company at that time.  The required me to influence a number of stakeholders and drive the business decision through various governance committees.  Once set up, I then spent time communicating my vision for the team, brought together each of the then disparate groups of people to work together and pull together as a team. With consistent communication, leadership and listening, I inspired each of the team members to pull together and work to create a team ethos in order to drive efficient legal support for the businesses which was closely aligned to the business. I also led a change in thinking from a demand led team to a true business driven team, who clearly understood how their activities aligned to the P&L. 

 Leading in technology 

Throughout my career I’ve been involved in technology transactions.  From my Pinsent days when I advised on one of the first technology PFI’s to deliver the then NHS Payroll, to CMG (now CGI Group) when I put together the first contracts for smart texting (little did we know it would become THE way of voting for all the now popular shows like X factor), through to today when I’ve headed up and led the Royal Mail Technology Legal team and some of its biggest technology initiatives since 2013. I have a keen interest in technology and as such have led many round tables across multiple companies to drive the conversation around how we navigate the tension between innovation and legal risk. Discussions around to what extent can we, as lawyers, drive change and help the business navigate ways through what is often outdated legal constructs when we try to align it to new technological advances.  I’ve also written articles and spoken at events to raise the profile of the disruption that is happening in the technology legal world and what this means for the deals on the ground.

Covid-19 has illustrated the critical importance of helping women to realise their professional aspirations - what role have you played or are you currently playing within your organization to support women in their roles?

I am the champion within the legal team for Diversity and Inclusion.  In a business (logistics) that is largely male dominated I’ve been vocal on the need for diversity, which includes gender diversity.  The stats speak for themselves. More diverse companies are more efficient and more successful. I’ve supported and mentored many of the female members of our teams over the years and have always been supportive of their careers, making sure flexibility is there when needed and support is there at the right time.  I led the set up of a mentoring scheme, aimed at those who have finished their studying but not yet got into training programmes, mentored a number of people (many of whom have gone on to be lawyers) and have generally looked for ways to assist.