Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal and business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Fiona Macaulay, Founder, and CEO of The WILD Network, located in Washington, DC, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I’m Fiona Macaulay, founder, and CEO of the WILD Network. WILD inspires and empowers visionary leaders across the global development and humanitarian aid sectors – so they can address the world’s challenges faster.

Through leadership development programs and events, we foster the exchange of ideas, tools, insights, and perspectives to enable you to become a strong and inclusive leader. And we help organizations understand the value of investing in their leaders and address the barriers faced by underrepresented leaders.

The WILD Network runs a yearly global conference, the Women in Global Development Leadership Forum (WILD Forum), which provides leadership development to professionals across the global development and humanitarian aid sectors and attracts participants from over 150 countries.

Tell us about yourself

I’m guided by the belief that people are capable of incredible things, given the opportunity. I’ve spent over 20 years in the global development sector - and in that time, I’ve listened to thousands of people who are committed to having a positive social impact. These people are tackling the world’s toughest problems. Time and again, they’ve expressed to me a desire to grow their leadership skills, so they can make an even bigger difference. And for those who are earlier in their careers and those given fewer opportunities, a desire for more opportunities to lead.

As a serial social innovator, educator, and field builder, my career is dedicated to creating those opportunities for others. At the heart of this work is impactful leadership. I founded and led the WILD Network to help humanitarian and global development organizations understand the value of investing in their leaders and address the barriers that underrepresented professionals face.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I’ve been honored to create opportunities for others to go out and make a difference in their own lives - through my first business, Making Cents International, and its spin-off event convening global players dedicated to creating opportunities for young people to the work of WILD empowering leaders at all stages of their careers to grow the impact of their work.

As one WILD Forum participant put it:

‘The Women in Global Development Leadership Forum helped me realize that I can make a difference in my own way. By advocating for myself and the issues that are important to me, I can help advocate for others that are like me or for those going through similar challenges, whether they’re issues impacting all women or a subset, such as Black women and women of color.’ Frantzie Saint Juste, Former Senior Project Manager, DAI Global, And my proudest moments are when I see the ripple effects of my work improving the lives of people beyond my own reach. For instance, a staff member of the World Resources Institute shared a tool she had learned about at the 2018 WILD Forum with her company’s Chief HR Officer. Using this tool, WRI improved its processes to ensure greater gender equity in its processes and pay structures, increasing opportunities and income for women across the organization.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

Learning when to say no! As an entrepreneur, I see possibility everywhere. And as an inclusivity advocate, I see the potential of everyone I meet. It takes discipline to stay focused on a small number of opportunities so that I can be effective in creating change in those areas.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. You can’t do everything yourself. Build a team around you and empower them to do the things they are uniquely fitted for so that you can stay focused on your areas of greatest strength.
  2. Leverage outsourcing as a tool. As women leaders, we receive many subtle and not-so-subtle messages that we should be doing it all ourselves. And, more often than not, we internalize that view and expect ourselves to be everywhere at once. But paying others to do the things that you don’t need to be personally present for - such as housekeeping tasks and admin - actually frees you to serve others better, whether that’s a leader, a parent, or a friend.
  3. Lead yourself first. When we talk about leading, implicitly, we’re referring to leading others. But the first person you need to guide is yourself. How are you showing up to work each day? How are you managing your emotions and equilibrium? How are you role modeling impactful leadership to others?

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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