Maureen Broderick is the Founder and CEO of WorldWideWomen—a new company on a social mission to tip the world a bit closer to gender parity. Her new online platform, www.worldwidewomen.co , is the first-ever global resource center where millions of women and girls can come every day to discover and connect with thousands of valuable organizations, programs and services exclusively for women. The company just raised the curtain on the website with over 6,000 listings in 20 major cities around the world and growing daily, and hopes to become the primary source of information and community for women. WorldWideWomen is Maureen’s fourth professional career— she began as a ballet dancer performing with the San Francisco Ballet; segued into business serving as the Chief Marketing Officer for several major professional service firms; launched her own consulting firm now in its 19th year; and at 67 has just launched her new global company. Maureen’s favorite message to all - “It’s never over until it’s over!”.
SK: Maureen, you’re a very successful business woman. Where and how did you start your professional career? MB: I need to show you this photo on my wall in my office. It’s me as a ballerina about 40 plus years ago—I can’t believe how my body ever did this!
MB: I began my professional life as a ballet dancer, training and performing with several ballet companies including the San Francisco Ballet where I danced for over seven years. I retired at 28 after 15 years of professional dance, hung up my pointe shoes, and focused on completing my undergraduate education and MBA at the University of San Francisco (USF).
Through USF I was selected for an internship at Price Waterhouse (now PwC), and was officially hired in 1980 as one of the firm’s first marketing professionals. In 1987, I was recruited to serve as marketing director for Booz Allen Hamilton, and from there went on to become chief marketing officer for two firms-- the law firm Brobeck Phleger & Harrison, and SRI in Silicon Valley.
After 18 years working in house in these companies, I decided to launch my own firm in 1996, Broderick & Company, which provided market strategy consulting to many of the world’s top professional service firms. We grew to 30 people in offices on both coasts with many long-term clients. In 2010, my book, The Art of Managing Professional Services, was published by Wharton School Publishing which is still one of the top selling business books in the professional service industry.
SK: Why did you decide to launch WorldWideWomen?
MB: After 19 years of running my consulting firm, I started to feel that urge to start something new. What was I going to do for the next 20 years of my professional life? So, at 67, I launched WorldWideWomen, the fourth remake of my career!
SK: How did you come up with the idea of WorldWideWomen?
MB: In the back of my mind I have always thought that someday I would do something meaningful to support women. The lack of parity in the world has always confounded me—we ARE half of the world for heaven’s sake.
When I started to get that “itch” to make a change, I began to explore my options. I have always been intrigued by fragmented markets—how do you roll them up and make them more efficient and effective. My son was in college at the time studying architecture—a very fragmented, low margin industry-- and I toyed with the idea of finding a group of investors and buying a bunch of architecture firms and merging them into a few larger more profitable businesses.
And then I had a truly aha moment that has changed my life. I was driving from San Francisco toward Silicon Valley to visit a client and I started thinking about the transformative power of technology, and then it all came together in my brain. What is perhaps the biggest fragmented market in the world—WOMEN. How do you reach them—TECHNOLOGY. That was the genesis of WorldWideWomen. I would create the first-ever global online center or hub for women.
Right after my meeting I headed back to my office and bought about 20 urls related to women and global. And that was it—WorldWideWomen was born!
SK: What is the core mission of WorldWideWomen?
MB: We are on a mission to support and enhance the lives of women and girls around the world. I know that might seem like a big vision, but we believe the first step is to create a central place where women can come to find and share valuable resources, connect with each other, and collaborate to solve issues that impact our global community of women. Our goal is to become the trusted center of information and community for women.
SK: What can women expect to find on your website?
MB: Our online resource center connects women to thousands of valuable and vetted organizations, programs and services that have the potential to powerfully and positively impact all our lives. If you spend some time on the website I guarantee that you will discover some amazing new resources that you had no idea existed… there is truly something for every woman at every stage of life.
There are 10 categories to explore — from education and health, to launching a business, career support, motherhood, women’s rights, and much more. We launched in February 2017 with over 6,000 listings across 20 major cities around the world... and the list is growing every day.
We would love for women to come to the website, www.worldwidewomen.co , take a look around, and sign up (it's free) for special member-only invitations, updates on exciting new resources and inspiring stories, and more. We are running a contest right now asking everyone to take our short survey to let us know what they think about the website and recommend improvements for a chance to win $1,000 for their favorite charity.
SK: You created a most unique event last year, the WorldWideWomen Girls’ Festival. What were the highlights of the festival?
MB: In October of 2016 we hosted the WorldWideWomen Girls’ Festival to showcase all the many resources throughout the San Francisco Bay Area that offer services and support for girls. It was an amazing—some said life-changing—day for close to 6,000 girls and their families. The day featured 65+ exhibitors, 22 workshops, a sports arena, a STEAM focused makers space (with Genentech, Oracle, and Autodesk among others), speed mentoring, and seven hours of performances and events on the main stage. One of the most popular events at the festival was the Girlpreneur competition-- our own version of Shark Tank with Mark Cuban, Sue Siegel, and Tim Draper as judges.
Our plan is to take the festival on the road to major cities around the world.
SK: What are you working on now?
MB: We are preparing to launch our first seed funding round which is something that I have never done before. I have of course read all the countless horror stories and reports about how difficult it is for women entrepreneurs to be funded. This seems ridiculous to me and we have our fingers crossed that this will not be the case for us. There are new regulations in place that allow non-accredited investors to invest in startups through equity crowd funding platforms, and I do think it would be quite wonderful for hundreds of people around the world to own a piece of our new company.
SK: Who inspired you to pursue your dreams?
MB: My father. He always told me that I could do and become anything I wanted. I remember when I was just starting high school and had the option of choosing some of my classes, he told me to never learn to type and then no one would ever ask me to do it. Back in the 1960s, careers for women basically consisted of secretary, teacher or nurse. The downside of that advice however, is that to this day I can only type with two fingers!
SK: What is the key to your success?
MB: Tenacity. I call it ‘doggedness’ –I just can’t let go of something that I set my mind to do. When I was a kid, I used to write down my one year, five year and ten-year life plans, stick them into an envelope and mail them to myself. I did this all the time and when the mail would come in my mother would say “Wow, another letter for you … from you!
SK: What is your advice to other women?
MB: Never be afraid to reinvent yourself and try something completely new at any time and at any age. And remember, it’s never over until it’s over!