Mel Brautigam | Owner, Savvy Social

Have lived in the Territory all my life. Wife to Greg and mum to 3 boysterious boys, Zane, Remi & Billy

What drives you to succeed? Have you ever been told “you can’t”? I have the type of personality that if someone tells me I can’t do something, I usually do it anyway. I’ve always been a rebel with a bit of an attitude that likes to push boundaries. Im a straight shooter and will tell you how I think it is.

This can shock some people when I attend client meeting but I think the majority of people are grateful for my honesty and understand I am only chasing improvements for their business. If I think something can be done better another way, I will tell you ha ha

What are the challenges faced by female entrepreneurs in the Top End? I don’t like to play the victim or sexism card. I’ve never looked at life saying ‘I can’t do that because Im a girl’ I think sometimes women can be their own worst enemies and not back themselves. Be confident in what you can deliver in business and own it.

I know there are some industries who pay men a higher salary than a female co-worker doing the same job and I say “stuff that.” Back yourself to be worth the same and demand the same, if your workplace doesn’t have the same values then go out and find someone who will pay you what you are worth, regardless of your sex.

Who are some of the females that have inspired you? I’ve always been a fan of Roxy Jecenko, a Sydney PR & Marketing leader because she pushes the boundaries for her clients and her own business and doesn’t care what people think. In this day and age people get offended over the stupidest things and if we worried about offending every little minority, most big brands wouldn’t be noticed or survive in such competitive times. You need to be remembered for the values you believe in, so I like some of Roxy’s flare for getting on with the job and delivering a positive outcome for her clients.

My grandmother Elise Jenkin has also always been an inspiration for me. She just turned 80 years young and is still the classiest woman I know. Not only is she an amazing cook and homemaker, she raised four kids (one of them my dad) and has been married to my grandfather for 60years.

She is also an extremely smart and educated woman. Post being a high school teacher in South Australia in her later working career, she would travel around the South Australian Colleges and Universities teaching. And I will never forget when I was about 10 years old, I had blown all my Christmas money on a shopping spree at Myers while visiting my grandparents in Adelaide and she asked why didn’t I save some for a rainy day. I didn’t get it at the time – I lived in Alice Springs and we only had K-Mart so Myers was super exciting but she always wanted me to be financially independent and responsible. Im still learning that one ha ha but my grandmother inspires me every time I talk to her.

What would you say to young females looking to make their mark? Get yourself out of the way. It’s human nature for people to tell themselves over and over, that they can’t do something because they have already pre-empted the outcome in their minds. “I won’t pitch for that job because someone else will get it.” “I won’t speak up in a meeting because I might get into trouble.” “I won’t ask for a raise because they don’t have the budget”

It goes back to backing yourself. Be realistic but if have great ideas that could dramatically change someones life, business or brand then own it. We need to teach our kids and next generation to be respectful however if you have an idea that could change a business for the better then back yourself to express it. Your ideas won’t always be accepted and you won’t always win a job, but don’t be bitter, look at it as a learning lesson for the next time. If we get ourselves out of the way and believe we can succeed in our chosen field then we are half way there.

How do you feel about the term #girlboss? It has a world-wide cult following and while I don’t use the term or hashtag I have successful friends who do. It goes back to backing yourself and redefining success on your own terms. Be unapologetic for your believes and align yourself with people who can lift you higher.
Own your successes and failures and enjoy the ride because working for yourself is not for the faint hearted.
Why is it important for females to support each other in business? There is enough work for everyone and we shouldn’t feel threatened by competition. It should make us step up and be the best we can be. Everyone is on a different timeline in life and business so don’t compare yourself to someone who is on a different journey to yourself.
I see nasty people in business all the time and it’s a good reminder to never be like them. Hold your head high and learn to genuinely wish people a successful business and career. If you are too focused on what others are doing, it will derail your own achievements.