You're Only As Good As Your Team
Wendy Sweetmore | Founder & CEO, Network BE
Wendy's mission is to empower women and children to reach their highest potential. She achieves this through her entrepreneurial ventures, creating high quality content with a conscience, advocating for women and leading non-profit organizations. She is a seasoned media executive with 25+ years of experience working with entertainment companies globally. As a Producer of original high-quality content, Wendy has mastered all aspects of the creative process, including writing, production, development, PR, marketing, brand integration and sales, throughout her distinguished career. This is her story.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in London but grew up in Sydney. I grew up in a poor part of Sydney. It was known as a very rough area. My parents immigrated [to Australia]. I’m Anglo-Indian.
Tell us a bit about your journey to where you’ve gotten to today.
I always knew there had to be more to life than what was immediately around me.. I knew everyone on my street and that sense of community was wonderful. The community really came together in these areas. But an escape for me growing up was television, and I knew if I could find a path out, it would be through education.
I knew I needed to get a degree, so pursued a BA in communications . My first intern job was looking after children at a pre-school. I loved working with kids. but then an opportunity opened to intern with a news team at TV station. On my first day, within minutes of starting, I was sent to cover a bank robbery. My blood ran and I remember thinking ‘This is life. This is real life!’.
Tell us one way exercising leadership has always come easy to you, and one way it has challenged you.
The one thing I’ve learned is that no matter what your business is, you’re only as good as your team. I know I can’t do this without a star team. Your team members are important. You have to ask what are their core values [because] that’s the company that’s going to fight for you when you’re down and lift you up. The biggest leadership lesson [for me] has been getting the right team that reflects shared core values. You need to discern what motivates people and their purpose. People can always learn skills, but they can’t learn integrity.
[Your company] is like having another family and I feel very responsible for this family in addition to my own. I’ll ask myself if I’ve been my best self to both of my families. But it’s about finding the right balance.
Name one of the most satisfying leadership roles you have had, and briefly tell me what made it so.
The role I have right now, as Founder and CEO of Networkbe.com. This by far is the most satisfying. You never know when you’re at the beginning of a new endeavor, if people will believe in it. I got a call recently from a great woman who has been working with me for six months with no pay and she thanked me...she said that she is having a blast, has a renewed sense of purpose and learning something new…to get that back when you believe you’re doing something right is humbling. I’m humbled by my whole team. They make us all look better, and make me want to work harder.
What is the best and worst decision you've ever made?
My three year old’s daughter had a wish which was to not have Mom work so much so she would be home to play more. The best decision I ever made was to give her this wish. It made me think about revamping the whole 9 to 5 work mentality. I knew I could find something I’d love to do, while being a mother to this child. She gave me the courage to resign from my position, to create a new start-up and new lifestyle at a company that allows everyone to put their family first.
For me, the worst decisions are the biggest lessons and learning curves. Life’s road blocks and winding roads have led me to where I am today. Perhaps a major lesson I’ve learned is to follow your gut instinct and don’t stay in something too long because other great opportunities will pass you by. Get out as quickly as you can if something doesn’t feel right. And if you fail, fail fast, and start again wiser.
What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
I think as a woman in business, we have a fear that everything needs to be perfect. But progress can come from just doing. We [women] can be our own worst enemy. The best advice someone gave me was ‘stop researching and stop justifying…just do it’.
What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
Our biggest challenge will be coming together, trusting each other and sharing information. It’s knowing that men and women need to be in this together and not creating a division of separation.
What woman inspires you and why?
My daughter. My now five-year-old daughter inspires me to be a better person everyday. She’s taught me that you can work differently, still be happy and be a great mother. The simplest things are really just about time and connecting; whether its time you spend with your children, partner, employees, best friends…it’s the investment in a person…which is really an investment in yourself.