Money & Career

‘Stay True To The Impact’: How The Head Of Cartier’s Women’s Initiative Gets Her Job Done

Working On It with Wingee Sampaio.

Welcome to Working On It, marie claire Australia’s series asking CEOs, founders, experts and trail-blazers the big (and not so big) questions about how they work.

Today we’re talking to Wingee Sampaio, who leads the Cartier Women’s Initiative from Paris. Wingee tells us about juggling work with a toddler, helping female entrepreneurs find start-up funding (while driving social change), and that time she researched grizzly murders… all in the name of a paycheque.

marie claire Australia: What is your current role and how would you describe a typical day?

Wingee Sampaio: I lead the Cartier Women’s Initiative, an international entrepreneurship program that supports women impact entrepreneurs. Our vision is a world in which every women impact entrepreneur can realise her full potential. On a typical day, I am like most women – I am juggling multiple dimensions of life. I am mum to a 16-month-old baby Charlie, I am a part-time French student, and I am the program director for the Cartier Women’s Initiative.

MC: How did you get here?

WS: I spent the first 15 years of my career in the capital markets, with the last role being in corporate innovation, which gave me a lot of exposure to entrepreneurship. The role uncovered for me the enormous potential entrepreneurs can have on the world in terms of social and environmental impact, and at the same time, it was clear that women were missing in all these opportunities. This led to my passion in the women impact entrepreneurship, and that was 7 years ago now!

MC: What was your first ever job?

WS: I was a financial analyst at Goldman Sachs & Co, doing research on complex derivatives. It was not a job that I was planning to for, but it ended up being one of the most incredible learning experiences.

MC: And what was your worst ever job?

WS: When I was at university, I had to find part time jobs to support my livelihood. One job that I took was to be a research assistant to an author of a murder mystery book. In those days to do research, you had to go to the library, and make a photocopy of the page of the research. She sent me to do research on all these gruesome murder cases of the past! I was completely terrified!

MC: Part of your role is advising female entrepreneurs in years 1 to 5 of their business. What is the number one piece of advice you give them?

WS: Think about your business growth strategy alongside your financing strategy. Too often we meet entrepreneurs who have given their business growth strategy a lot of thoughts, and then just plug in the financing strategy as pitching to VCs. It is more complex than that – and many do not fully evaluate all the options possible. A poor fit in terms of financing can really cost the company a lot of equity, not to mention the pressure to generate exit multiples that might not be a fit with the business model.

MC: And what’s your career advice to other women more broadly?

WS: Words of wisdom that I hold dear to my heart – happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony (Mahatma Gandhi).  To me, this is when we are true to and able to fully express our intention and potential.  I strive for this in myself and for others (women and men) every day.  It is why the vision of the Cartier Women’s Initiative is so dear to me – empowering others to realise their full potential to make this world a better place.  Our call for application is now open and will close on June 30th!  If you are an impact entrepreneur, please check out our program!

cartier women's initiative
An earlier Cartier Women’s Initiative ceremony. (Credit: Supplied.)

MC: The women you advise are driving social change. How can entrepreneurs attract seed funding, scale their business, and drive revenue while still remaining true to their core values?

WS: Stay true to the impact you are trying to make (measure it diligently!), find investors that are aligned to that goal, and cultivate these relationships on a long-term basis. If the investors are not there – I would build the business incrementally and try to get it to grow organically. With greater traction over time, you will be able to make the case for the impact being worth investing in. That said, it is important to note, it is not the investment we are working towards, it is the impact. So celebrate that at each milestone!

MC: How do you deal with your inbox?

WS: I am more conscious of the inbox managing me! It is incredibly tempting to tackle all the messages – and in the end, your entire day has zoomed by. As such, I try to be intentional on when to reply on emails, and when to do things that are strategically important.

MC: And how do you deal with burnout?

WS: Silent meditation. I did a silent meditation program several years ago, and it was life changing. I felt like I was thinking in circles, and so decided to do this program to help create clarity. What I discovered was that practicing silent meditation is like brushing my teeth but for my mind, and it not only soothed a lot of worries I was carrying, but also helped me “be” and stayed laser focus.

MC: What have you bought that’s made the biggest difference to your productivity?

WS: A big screen! I work so much faster with all my documents opened!

MC: Describe your power outfit.

WS: A floral pencil skirt midi dress. I have several of these for day and night time. I love the floral pattern for its femininity and soft power, and I love the pencil skirt bottom for its professionalism.

MC: What’s your current work bag?

WS: A highly organised work pack with style which provides me with great functionality.

MC: WFH or office?

WS: Both

MC: BYO lunch or takeout?

WS: Takeout

MC: What’s on your desk right now?

Charlie’s pacifier, coffee mug, jar of salty liquorice from my little sister, Swell breast cancer awareness water bottle, pencils and eraser, French homework, phone holder.

MC: Email sign off?

WS: Cheers!

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