Simone Hyde left school to study fashion design and jumped straight into starting her own business, Ugly People Modelling Agency, which she ran successfully for 5 years from age 19. Twelve months later Simone founded Style Haute, a Styling and Event Management business, which also ran for 5 years. Simone then decided to relocate from the Gold Coast and moved to Melbourne, where she started working for a fashion accessories wholesaler.
Since 2014 Simone has been the Account Manager for SOJO and Tradie Underwear. One year into the role she became heavily involved in more aspects of the business and travelling regularly, which lead her to consider studying an MBA through Swinburne Online because she needed the flexibility of online study, and wanted to validate and complement the skills she was learning on the job. Simone found that she was able to immediately put her MBA into practise at work, and she now manages across all brands and helps to oversee development and manufacture of the product range.
You started and managed a modelling agency at age 19 while studying fashion, and then concurrently a fashion styling business, then sold both businesses after 6 years. What entrepreneurial and leadership skills did you learn though this experience?
I very quickly learnt time management skills. Balancing study and starting a business was challenging so I was always prioritising, ensuring everything was completed on time. I had 10 to 15 models on my books at any time, who were all teenagers or early twenties. I realised how much they looked up to me and needed my support and guidance, which I think made me grow up fast.
Some of these girls were the same age as me, however I had to be their manager and direct them with what they needed to do for each job and motivate them before each photoshoot or catwalk parade. I had a great mentor at the time, and I had an openness to learning, which really helped me get through it. I was the only one, so I had to learn every aspect, including managing the accounts. When something has to be done, you quickly learn how to do it.
Why did you decide to study an MBA with Swinburne Online?
I decided that a business degree would really assist my career progression and give me the knowledge I was lacking. While I have run businesses, there was still so much I didn’t know. Business is something that can benefit you in any role, and the skills I have learnt assist me every day in more areas that I ever expected.
You travel to Europe and America twice a year to find new trends to develop the new season ranges, and Sydney every couple of weeks. How have you managed your MBA whilst travelling frequently and working full time?
The most important thing is being organised and planned out. I clearly highlight all deadlines in my calendar and work out how I need to fit them into my work and travel commitments. All of the flights are actually great as there are no interruptions or emails so I can catch up on study. I am very organised and always have a to do list going, this is the best way to ensure nothing gets missed.
In your role, you oversee the company’s product range from development through to the range landing in retailers, as well as marketing. How have you been able to immediately apply your MBA to your work, and what are your future aspirations?
I started applying what I have learnt in the Swinburne Online MBA immediately. Each subject has been relevant in what I do in some way, and I have really enjoyed putting it into context then practice with my job. This assisted learning each subject and I feel it has also benefited the company I work for as my skills expand. My general manager has been great in helping me put each subject into practice as I constantly discuss what I am learning with him, a great way to bounce off ideas and also get another perspective.
As for future aspirations I would love to have my own business again one day. I would also really like to get onto a Board. There is a real need for empowered women in business and I would like to be part of this change.
What has been your greatest challenge?
My biggest challenge has been keeping personal balance. Work and study take such a big part of my life, so I have been conscious that I allow myself some downtime and give my family and friends the time they deserve.
What are you most proud of?
That I have almost made it! I was a little nervous starting my MBA, as to whether I could balance it with working full time and if I would actually enjoy it. While I have had my challenging moments, I have managed it far better than I ever expected. I am now really excited to start the next phase of my life and put all of my knowledge to good use.
What’s one piece of advice for future female leaders?
That you can do whatever you put your mind to. As females we have the added pressure of family and kids, however it is so important to follow your dreams and know you can achieve them if you put your mind to it. It is never going to be easy, but the challenge is the best part. As women we need to support and inspire each other to change the world.
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