Industry Profile: Social Soup CEO, Sharyn Smith

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 20 May 2016
Social Soup CEO, Sharyn Smith

Our Industry Insights Profile takes a weekly look at some of the professionals working across the advertising, ad tech, marketing and media sector in Australia. It aims to shed light on the varying roles and companies across the buzzing industry. 

Today we head to Sydney to talk to Social Soup CEO and founder, Sharyn Smith.

Duration in current role/time at the company:

10 years.

In one sentence, how would you describe what the company does?

We create meaningful connections between brands and people and develop impactful programs that build rapid real world advocacy, user generated content and social amplification. 

In one sentence, what does your role involve?

As the CEO and founder it involves setting the strategy, trying to predict the future, building and motivating an awesome team, sweating over the small and big staff stuff that matters but always trying to keep everything in perspective 

Within the last six months/year, what stands out as the company’s major milestones? 

We've had a single minded focus on innovation in the past 12 months around technology, community and thought leadership. Changing the internal culture to one that focuses on innovation and new ideas has been an exciting and challenging journey but this year is looking like a very big one for Social Soup. 

Best thing about the industry you work in:

We get to play with lots of new stuff and work with forward thinking people and brands

Previous industry related (ad land/ad tech) companies you have worked at:

Originally in academia teaching entrepreneurship and marketing, then working in the first dotcom boom and bust for the UK for media company Emap Digital. Moving into venture capital for Inflexion in the UK to starting leading research and strategic consultancy Pollinate back home in Australia. 

Career-wise, where do you see yourself in three years time?

Still overseeing Social Soup as we grow and develop the wider influencer and word of mouth marketing industry.  I’m currently working to help start-up businesses get their ideas off the ground so I’d like to be doing more of this to not only grow my business but give back to other businesses and encourage more females to start their own businesses.  

What is the elephant in the room? The thing that no one is talking about – but they should be.

A lot has been said recently about getting better representation for women at the top of the industry  – I think its a good conversation to have but I feel another conversation to have is how to get more women to want to be a leader and to really strive for it. Having lived a life with many unconscious biases a lot needs to be done to develop female leaders through mentorships, training, and building confidence right from the very bottom of the industry.

I strongly believe a company with both male and female leadership is a much better company and will be more successful in the long run. Many women settle for a less ambitious path and we need to crack that wide open and reset our ambitions.

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?

As much as I used to complain when they played it I have become a Belieber (that’s a Justin Bieber fan for the uninitiated).

Top networking tip:

Be generous, it’s about what you give that will come back.

My favourite restaurant for a business lunch is:

Bodega in Surry Hills.

My favourite advert is:

I love a good use of social and technology – the recent drinkable ads from Coke were impressive. 

My must-have gadget is:

Phone, it really is the centre of my world

My favourite media is:

Podcasts.

My favourite TV show is:

House of Cards

The last book I read:

Rising Strong by Brene Brown

My mantra / philosophy is:

Always do the best you can and then you should never be disappointed.

I got into advertising/ad tech/marketing etc because:

I was excited to combine creativity and strategy but now I see there is an opportunity for media and marketing to be more  – we need to think more about values based marketing and having a positive impact rather than creating unmet needs, desire and fear.  

If I wasn't doing this for a living, I'd be:

Running another start-up, I have lots of ideas.

In five years' time I'll be:

I’d like to be an inspiration for my children so in whatever form it takes i’ll still be motivated to do the best I can, find positive ways to help people and make the world a better place. 

Define your job in one word:

Diverse.

What's your poison:

Margarita.

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