Staff Reporters
Oct 12, 2022

Women to Watch 2022: Jane Sullivan, Wavemaker

Sullivan’s masterstroke is blending her craft and passion with commercial success.

Women to Watch 2022: Jane Sullivan, Wavemaker
Celebrating outstanding talent in marcomms

Jane Sullivan

Managing director, Brisbane

With a career spanning 23 years, Jane Sullivan is a celebrated figure in media in Australia. She became managing director at the young age of 32, and her inspiring ascension is marked by passion, hard work, persistence, and dedication. Launching her career as an account executive straight out of school in 1999, little did she envision a steep rise to becoming managing director in less than 15 years.

In 2014, when Sullivan joined Wavemaker as managing director, the shop’s journey started off with a single client—Domino’s. Her sharp acumen led the agency to become a powerhouse and one of the top five agencies in Brisbane.   

Sullivan’s steady leadership charted a strong growth trajectory in the last financial year, amounting to billings growth of 40% and revenue growth of 55%. Underlining this robust performance was a slew of new business wins including Swyftx, Berries Australia, Shine Lawyers, The Alcohol & Drug Foundation, and O’Keefe’s.

A stellar leader at work, Sullivan forms genuine client relationships based on honesty, passion and momentum. Her ability to nurture relationships is evidenced in long-term clients such as Domino’s, Shine Lawyers, Perfection Fresh and Triumph, all which helped to expand Wavemaker’s remit through the provision of diversified services.

Sullivan’s results-driven work for clients includes Tourism Whitsundays’ ‘Siri-ously in need of a holiday?’ campaign, which won Bronze at the Global Festival of Media Awards and Global Best Media Strategy for Wavemaker Shockwaves. The follow-up campaign in 2022 delivered an ROI of $6:1.

Even in the tricky period of a global pandemic, Wavemaker’s Brisbane client list grew, along with the office headcount—up 70% over the past 12 months to 38 people. Plus, 50% were awarded promotions in the same period, with a majority of them being women. Impressively, the Brisbane office saw no turnover of employees in the past financial year, a testament to her inclusive, supportive, and transparent leadership style.

When she isn’t running pitches and winning accounts, Sullivan devotes her time to mentoring young talent and ensuring women make it to leadership ranks. An apt example would be the promotion of Lily Nielsen who returned from maternity leave straight to get the client partner role.

A champion of Wavemaker’s wellbeing programme, Sullivan’s initiatives such as ‘no-meeting Tuesdays’, walk-and-talk meetings, five half-day holidays over summer, and a commitment to ensure a better work-life balance are lauded by employees. Her contribution to the broader community includes serving as a non-executive director on the board of Muval, a free online service that connects users with vetted removalists to aid in seamless transitions, and as strategic board advisor to Mood Food Nutrition, an evidence-based programme that aims to educate, empower and inspire Australians to eat foods that can prevent, treat and beat depression. Her side hustle, Beck & Call, has a mission to redefine healthcare and provide ease of medical access to all Australians.

Celebrating outstanding talent in marcomms


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