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Wendy Simpson is an MBA graduate from the Australian Graduate School of Management and now works closely with the school and other key business groups to change the way women entrepreneurs grow their businesses and raise capital. She is the founder of Springboard Enterprises in Australia, which promotes and showcases investment-ready, high-growth companies that are led by women, to potential investors.
Ms Simpson grew up in Australia and has worked as senior vice-president of Alcatel Asia Pacific, during which time she was part of the team that negotiated with the Chinese government to bring the internet to China. In her spare time, she enjoys Chinese culture and reading about the life and work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheron pastor.
1. Who are your business influences/heroes?
Kay Koplovitz, the founder of Springboard Enterprises in the US.
2. What academic achievement are you most proud of?
I did my MBA part-time while holding down a global role with a major telecommunications company. I was overseeing 17 countries with a lot of responsibility and so I had to be able to be disciplined in my time management.
3. What is your biggest lesson learnt?
Exactly 12 months ago, I was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer - what an amazing journey I have been on. The cancerous cells physically attack your body, but it is the mind game which is a real battlefield. I learned that having friends who prayed for me made a huge difference and that by having invested in good quality friendships and not neglecting my family during my MBA, I had a community to care for me when I needed them
4. Who is your ideal professor?
I would love to have been around in the era of Aristotle to have listened to his thoughts on wisdom.
5. If you could do it all again, what would you do differently?
I would have taken a few subjects on exchange with a UK or US university.
6. Where would be your favourite place to study?
The library in IMD in Lausanne overlooking Lake Geneva.
7. What advice would you give to women in business education?
Learning frameworks and systems for thinking is very important. Information decay means that technical skills even for vocational training become redundant quickly. Thinking and problem-solving skills endure.
8. How do you deal with male-dominated environments?
It has been a core theme in my life, so I have had to learn a lot about the male sense of humour. I am fortunate to be a big fan of Australian rules football, which gives me great conversational opportunities with male counterparts in many parts of Australia. I lived in Shanghai for seven years and in China women are better understood in the business world. I learned a lot about deal making from the Chinese, they just do it so well. I didn’t feel I was treated poorly in China, women get more opportunities in China than they do in Australia.
9. What is the worst job you have ever had?
Packing bananas in the fruit and vegetable cool room of a Coles supermarket in Moonee Ponds, a suburb of Melbourne.
10. What are your future plans?
To develop an innovative new global model for building venture capital funds for entrepreneurs, especially women entrepreneurs.
Compiled by Charlotte Clarke