Stories for a brighter tomorrow | Entrepreneur
Five minutes with…Jen Sharpe
Jen is no stranger to the pivot. Having first studied politics, she ended up with a Graduate Diploma of Entrepreneurship and Innovation from Swinburne and founded a communications agency.
Jen also knows the ups and downs of entrepreneurialism, having launched and acquired a number of businesses with varying degrees of success! Founder of Think HQ and Lumin and Director at CultureVerse, Jen thinks with her heart and puts people (staff, clients and society) firmly at the forefront of her businesses.
What was your experience at Swinburne like?
Terrific! I really liked the fact that the lecturers were great teachers and also had experience in building businesses. The stories they could tell were just as powerful as the theory they were teaching. I also broadened my contact pool by mixing with people from all kinds of industries.
What is it about your work that you are most passionate about?
I am incredibly passionate about working on projects that lead to positive social benefits. I don't believe in making money for the sake of it, but I love growing profitable businesses, so somehow, I have found a good balance. As a communications business, I am also deeply committed to inclusive communications, which means being able to talk to everyone.
What have you found most challenging?
Where do I start! Starting a business is hugely challenging both from a cash flow and emotional perspective. Having two children while running a growing business was indeed challenging and of course, COVID… Trying to run a rapidly growing business and look out for the well-being of my employees, while I was very much struggling to cope myself, has been the biggest challenge of all.
"I really liked the fact that the lecturers were great teachers and also had experience in building businesses. The stories they could tell were just as powerful as the theory they were teaching."
How central is innovation to your work?
Crucial. In my sector, if we don't continue to innovate, we can't grow. Luckily, I love growing and trying different things, and I also am able to cope when things don't work so well, so it comes naturally to me.
What advice would you give to current Swinburne students?
Don't try to map out your perfect career path or your perfect job – because it's very likely not to exist. Just start a job where there are good people and just work really hard. You'll be amazed where your career path will go if you just work hard and be open to opportunity. If you're going to start a business, make sure you have a solid business model that will bring you solid financial return. If you don't have a business that is making money, then possibly you just have a good idea.