A successful businesswoman
Sandra Nolan is a successful businesswoman and an aspiring writer with over 10 years experience in the Corporate World. Boss Lady Nolan was nominated as ‘New South Wales Outstanding Business Woman of Western Sydney’ in 2017. She has held various senior roles, working with many blue-chip clients.
Nolan works as a professional Senior Account Manager with extensive experience in key account management and business development, acquired principally in the Commercial Finance industry.
After the completion of her Business and English Literature Degree, Nolan started her career as a sales rep for CCA and has worked herself up to a senior position.
‘’I have enjoyed a successful career in the Financial Services industry for the last 7 years, having worked with two of the largest financial institutions in Australia. In fact, my achievements were recognised, and I was nominated as ‘New South Wales Outstanding Business Woman of Western Sydney’ in 2018. ‘’ says Sandra Nolan.
Passion for writing
Even though Nolan is known for being a successful businesswoman, her passion is in writing, and over the past year, she has started a side hustle as a writer. Together with her friend, they started their blog ‘My Voice My Stories’ www.myvoicemystories.com over a year ago, and this led to further opportunities as Nolan’s work went on to be featured in Thrive Global (owned by Arianna Huffington), Mamma Mia, Latte magazine (Australian business magazine for women) and on other blogger sites.
Today, Women On Topp got the opportunity to speak to Sandra Nolan about her journey as a successful businesswoman.
WOT: How did you manage to get a senior position within the commercial finance industry, working with many blue-Chip clients?
NOLAN: Through hard work! Nothing in life comes easy, and if there is anything I have learned is that self-belief is extremely important. You need to believe in yourself, your capabilities, your skills, if you don’t, no one else will.
I realized from a young age how important it is to make your mark in whatever role you are in. I knew if I was to be taken seriously, and if I wanted more opportunities, I had to stand out from my peers. I was always that person ready to take on more responsibility and willing to challenge the status quo and challenge the way we do things as a business if I identified that there is a better solution or better way to do things. I think Senior Management enjoy innovative and proactive employees especially if your suggestion improves their bottom line.
That’s exactly what I did and my drive and ability to think outside the box further helped me to climb the corporate ladder landing in a position where I liaise with C Suite contacts. That’s a whole different ball game! But it is great fun.
WOT: To what do you attribute your success in your career and how do you define success?
NOLAN: You know that’s an interesting question. I am a very spiritual person and know that I wouldn’t be where I am today if it was not for my hard work coupled by my faith. I have been reading Arianna Huffington’s book ‘Thrive’ where she explores this very question. Like most people, success to me was defined in 2 ways: money and power. As I started to read Thrive, it opened my mind to the possibility that there is far more to living a truly successful life then just earning a big salary and capturing a corner office.
My view has shifted from the traditional measures of success to instead focus on thriving- a process of “reconnecting with ourselves, our loved ones, and our community”. In other words, it is a process of building a rewarding, stimulating and healthy life that opens the door for greater wellbeing, joy and a purposeful life. It challenged me to rethink my position of what it really means to succeed, and I began to assess if I was really living my life to the best of my ability.
To me, having a successful career is a sign of success but so is my happiness, my faith, my family and mental wellbeing. Having money and a career is not the be all and end all.
WOT: What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful career woman?
NOLAN: Tenacity, innovative and a constant desire to improve, I believe, are the foundation stones to be a successful career woman.
It’s important to think about the Senior leaders in the business. You may not interact with them daily but keep in mind they talk about you. They know which esteemed employees exceed expectations and turn grand ideas and goals into actionable results. They also know which workers spread negativity and don’t pull their weight. The way you present yourself is important, after all perception is reality in business.
Innovation is a big one for me. Solve a problem. This is truly one of the best ways to get on an executives’ radar. Get involved in as many good opportunities as you can. Leave your space, expand your territory and excel at whatever comes your way. As you do, you’ll quickly gain a deeper understanding of the company, meet others who can offer new perspectives and ultimately put yourself in a better position for growth.
WOT: What inspired you to start My Voice, My Stories?
NOLAN: I can’t take all the credit for the start up of our blog, my BFF Vickie was the brains behind this concept and she is the one who started it all. Over a year later and our blog has gained international and national exposure. So that tells us to keep doing what we’re doing because it is working!
What inspired us is simple: We wanted to build a platform where readers can gain inspirational stories not only drawn from our lives, but from everyone who has gone through a significant life event they want to share with others. Our mission is simple; We want to inspire others and add to their sphere of knowledge. Below is our mission statement:
“We thought it would be great to share not only our life experiences, but also stories from everyday people and learn about their unique – challenges, heartbreak, happiness, and all things in between. The aim is to give hope to those of us going through similar situations. We believe in the importance of friendship and family, cocktails, having a good laugh and travelling the world.” – My Voice, My Stories
WOT: Besides writing, what else do you do?
NOLAN: I love traveling! I have been fortunate enough to travel to many parts of the world with my husband and friends and I know it is something I will never stop doing. I am also part of a mentor group, mentoring young girls in high school and young girls who have just started their career journey. It is a fantastic feeling giving back to the community and passing on what I’ve learnt during my career to the younger generation.
I also love nature, so bushwalking and hiking with my husband and dogs is also on top of my list!
WOT: Tell us about your proudest achievement?
NOLAN: Business-wise, being nominated for the business award tops the list! It is wonderful receiving recognition for your hard work. Also, having my work published on national and international media platforms is very rewarding. On a personal note, my proudest achievement is having a 30 plus friendship with my BFF and being married to a wonderful man and adopting 2 furbabies (Ragnar and Zues, a staffy and pom)
WOT: Do you believe in destiny or do you think you can control your fate?
NOLAN: I believe we have control over our destiny. The words “fate” and “destiny” to me, are quite different. Fate is what puts opportunities in front of us, but our destiny is ultimately determined by our decisions. For instance, if you go to a party and meet the perfect guy that was fate. But what you do about it is your destiny.
I believe we are in full control of our choices and that our actions, in response to what fate offers us, matter. After all each one of us are are here to learn lessons and the hard decisions we must make are what helps us grow. Our destiny is not something we can rely on and expect to happen. We need to act on the opportunities we are presented with. As the saying goes; “Fate may open doors but if it’s our destiny, then WE have to walk through them. You can let fate lead you through life or you can shape your own destiny”.
WOT: What is your favorite aspect of being a career woman in the corporate world?
NOLAN: My favorite aspect is the connections I make along the way. It is rewarding and so much fun meeting with clients and establishing a long professional friendship. Connections are everything because sometimes you rely on your connections to help point you in the right direction and at times opportunities present themselves based on the people you know. I’m a people person, so connecting with like-minded professionals is one of my favorite things to do.
WOT: What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
NOLAN: I’m a strong believer that if you’ve never failed, then you’ve probably never succeeded on any significant level either. I would say that my biggest professional failure was when I was overseeing a monumental project for the largest Entertainment company in Australia and New Zealand. I think the biggest issue was that the whole team took it for granted that the project would be ours. We had a good relationship with the client and we had just wrapped up a very successful campaign for them. But in retrospect, we didn’t go the extra mile to wow them. We took our relationship for granted and became complacent. We didn’t push as hard as we should have. That opened the opportunity for a competitor to put on a big show and steal the business. Our #1 lesson for myself and my team was to never take a client for granted — and to never, ever settle for a “good-enough” pitch. It is a valuable lesson as it propels me to never become complacent in my role and the importance of going that extra mile for our clients.
WOT: What do you do daily to grow as a career woman?
NOLAN: I start the day with a positive mindset, I think that is vital because it sets the tone for the day. Also, I always like to make the first move, successful women don’t wait for opportunities to come their way, they make it happen. I know this firsthand. Once you begin making your professional move, it’s empowering especially when you see results! You’re empowered to do it again and again. Lastly, I never compare myself to others as it only sabotages your confidence and success. Believe in yourself every day!
WOT: If you had one piece of advice to our readers to those just starting out a career in the corporate finance world, what would it be?
NOLAN: So challenging to narrow it down to one so ill share a few suggestions. First and foremost, I would tell them to remember that the skills you acquire and the people you meet, are what will open the doors for you.
Also, I would encourage them to take risks. By taking a risk, you are putting yourself in a position to learn, whether you succeed or fail. You’re also showing management your innovative spirit, which is important as we are moving in the digital age, innovation is the core of the success of a business and those that take risks, both inside and outside of the corporate walls, will become more successful.
Finally, measure yourself and your contribution. Senior management wants to know the numeric impact you’re having on a company through your work, which means increasing revenue or decreasing costs. Always think about measuring your projects and keeping track of the results because that’s what’s going to help you justify promotions. Have a mentor, and always believe in yourself and capabilities!