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Conversations With Women Who Triumph - Jane Sullivan - MD Wavemaker Brisbane
Jane Sullivan is a vibrant, intelligent women who has shown you don’t always need a university degree to make it to the top. With hard work, persistence, dedication and a positive attitude, she rose above to become the youngest Managing Director at one of Brisbane’s biggest media agencies at age 32. Read about Jane’s inspiring journey below.
Tell us about your role as Managing Director for Wavemaker Brisbane.
My role as MD is primarily a people focused role, the majority of my time is invested in growing and inspiring my people and teams to grow and achieve more for themselves and our clients. Our vision as an agency is to positively provoke and always have a growth mindset. My role is to drive and explore growth opportunities for our people, our clients and our business.
What do you love most about your job?
Nurturing the next generation of talent and providing a positive environment to express themselves and work for a business with purpose.
Tell us, a bit about how you career path ended up where you are now?
My journey has been a little unconventional having not gone to university, something I’m really proud of but also often struggle with imposter syndrome about – straight from school I landed a job in a media agency at 17, worked really hard and progressed quickly and by 24 I had moved to London and was working on International Brand Strategies on some of the world’s biggest brands.
After 7 years abroad, I returned home to Brisbane for the lifestyle and am so proud to have been able to start the Brisbane Wavemaker business as the youngest female MD in the market at just 32. Over the course of the last 6yrs I have built the business here from 1 client to over 20 clients and almost 30 staff and to the third largest agency in Brisbane.
Can you talk about one woman who has impacted your life?
My mum, don’t mum’s always give you the best advice 😊. When I was offered the role of MD at 32 I actually was leaning towards not accepting it and as I explained when she asked me why – I’m 32 and I’ve never run a company. My mum said, yes that is true but from your experience in all the companies you’ve worked for to date – you know how not to run a company. So now when I am faced with a decision, I often ask myself how would I NOT want this handled and then do the opposite. So far it has worked in my favour 😊
How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?
We are only as strong as the women we surround ourselves with. I believe you achieve more together than you can alone and I am lucky to surround myself with incredibly triumphant women who push me to achieve more, support me, and raise me up as I do them.
What is your definition of a strong, triumphant woman?
I think my definition of a strong triumphant woman has changed over the last few years. I now understand strength actually comes from a place of vulnerability and empathy, and the more you lean into that in leadership and business, the stronger you become, and in turn the more opportunities that flow.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
In just 6 years creating the Wavemaker Brisbane office from scratch to be one of the top rated agencies in the market with highest rated staff and client happiness scores.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
I’ve faced so many hurdles and challenges– most particular to my journey has been the volume of ageism I’ve faced and had to overcome along the way. I was successful and quite senior from a young age and in multiple companies – big and small business it has had a profound impact on me being asked to lie about my age to give me more credibility in the room with clients.
As a leader now I am very conscious of this and ensure that my younger team members embrace the value of their age, views and opinions and openly encourage them to have a voice and be confident.
Do you have any tips on balancing a successful career and personal time?
Whilst I adore my job and career, I’ve always ensured I have personal projects to keep me balanced and excited in my personal life. For the past 15 years my passion outside work has been property flipping. I bought my first place at 20 and since then I’ve flipped about 6 properties and have just completed my largest project – a complete restoration and extension to a 1890’s Queenslander 😊 I love the feeling of accomplishment of creating something from nothing. Ironically or not that is where I thrive both personally and professionally.
What are you grateful for?
I try to practice daily gratitude for the smallest things like cuddles with my new puppy, the people that inspire me, and the inconsequential moments that often lead to something greater 😊
What’s your favourite quote?
“What you seek is seeking you.” – Rumi
“Fearlessness is not the absence of fear. It’s the mastery of fear. It’s about getting up one more time than we fall down.” Arianna Huffington
What motivates you to get out of bed of a morning?
The unknown and anticipation of what lies ahead. I embrace uncertainty and love how much can change in a day.
What is your go-to Triumph bra and why?
I am an Amourette girl, a little lace makes me feel more confident and I’m a big believer in the matching set for that added boost of confidence in my step.
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