An experienced manager and executive director, Wendy Simpson has made a career out of driving innovation and change.
Widely regarded as a pioneer, she has held key leadership roles across across a number of traditionally male dominated industries, from airfreight, telecommunications and precision engineering to property development, and has been a tireless advocate for women in business and female entrepreneurs.
Wendy was the first woman to run TNT International’s global airfreight operations, overseeing a AUD $250 million business, and negotiating a major service level agreement with Qantas.
She was then approached to join telecommunications giant Alcatel to help it engage with a newly deregulated market. A short-term assignment in China stretched to seven years, as Wendy became the first women appointed as Senior Vice President of Alcatel Asia Pacific and established the regional headquarters in Shanghai.
While many telecommunications companies suffered during the “dot-com” crash, Wendy drove AU $6 Billion in annual sales across 17 countries, and was a key member of the team at Alcatel Shanghai Bell that successfully negotiated with the Chinese government to bring the internet to China.
From here Wendy became the Victorian Government’s first, and only female Trade Commissioner for North Asia.
A serial entrepreneur and investor, Wendy is also the driving force behind several companies. In 1997, Wendy and her husband Geoffrey staged a management buyout of a precision engineering company, Westray Engineering. Together they transformed Westray’s assets from a tradition single-site post WW2 metal manufacturing factory into a multi-site, multi-product, global business. Westray products hold together Australian icons such as the national flagpole at Parliament House and Sydney’s Centrepoint Tower, as well as Hong Kong Airport’s Tsing Ma suspension bridge.
Wendy was a founding director of Allomak, an automotive aftermarket group, and assisted in the IPO. During Wendy’s tenure, Allomak achieved annualized sales of $80 million and was featured in the Australian Financial Reviews Fast Starters as one of the fastest growing companies to list on the Australian Stock Exchange.
In 2006, she partnered with Singapore-based Tembusu Partners and the Nanjing government to establish a US $100 million fund to invest in fast-growing companies in China.
In 2008, Wendy and Geoff moved into property development. While the Global Financial Crisis raged on, Wendy and Geoff created a private investment company, Wengeo Group, borrowed AU $10 million from the bank and partnered with Trumen Corporation to develop a parcel of land in Caringbah into a mixed-use commercial complex. The project was hugely successful, and Wengeo went on partner with Trumen on projects across Sydney and Melbourne.
Wendy currently serves as a non-executive director with the General Sir John Monash Foundation, Australia’s premier international scholarship program, and World Vision Australia, one of Australia’s largest disaster relief and development agencies.
A committed Christian, Wendy believes that all followers of Jesus are called to love and serve the cities in which they live. Since 2009, Wendy has served on the organising committee of the Sydney Prayer Breakfast, the annual gathering over 1200 business and community leaders to pray for the city. She also helped established City to City Australia and the Australian Centre for Faith and Work to resource Christian leaders, catalyse new church plants and strengthen existing churches in Australia.
On top of her pioneering career achievements, Wendy has been a strong advocate for women in business, and sought to create an entrepreneur “eco-system” that values and supports women.
As ministerial advisor under Victorian Premier Joan Kirner in the 1990s, Wendy was instrumental in developing the Telstra Business Awards, ensuring one award category for women. The Premier’s Award for Businesswomen of the Year has since evolved into its own independent awards, the Telstra Businesswomen’s Awards.
Wendy also helped establish the Australian Council of Business Women and the International Women’s Federation of Commerce and Industry. Most recently she served on the Advisory Board of the Australian Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
While at QBE, Wendy established the first professional group for women in the company. QBE went on to become one of the first ASX companies with three female directors
Having experienced first-hand the difficulties faced by women in raising capital in Australia, Wendy lobbied Springboard Enterprises, the premier professional development program for women entrepreneurs in the USA, to establish its accelerator program in Australia. Wendy secured support from prominent investment groups, accounting and law firms, including Westpac, Investec, Grant Thornton and Kemp Strang, and Springboard Enterprises Australia launched in 2012. Since then Springboard has conducted five bootcamp programs for 45 high-growth, women-led companies around Australia, raising AU $178 million in capital.
Although no longer on the board of Springboard Enterprises Australia, Wendy continues to mentor high-growth women entrepreneurs to develop their business and gain greater access to capital.
Wendy is a 3-time finalist in Telstra Businesswomen’s Awards, having been nominated by QBE Insurance, Alcatel and Westpac, and in 2006 was a finalist in the Shanghai Business Women of the Year Awards.
In 2013 Wendy received an Order of Australia Medal for her service to the community through a range of women’s and youth organisations. That same year she was inducted into the Australian Businesswoman’s Hall of Fame and featured as one of Australia’s 100 Women of Influence by the Australian Financial Review.
Wendy lives in Sydney and has been married to her husband Geoffrey for 39 years. They are active members of their local church, c3 City, in Darlinghurst. They are also avid Sydney Swans fans and patrons of Griffin Theatre Company in Darlinghurst. In 2011, Wendy underwent extensive treatment for a rare Pediatric cancer. Now in remission, Wendy is delighted to again enjoy life to the full.