Tara Sharp of Santa Rosa’s Sonic wins Women in Business award

Tara Sharp, chief marketing officer, Sonic, Santa Rosa

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Marketing wines and helping to found a firm that make granola bars have been among the life paths taken by Tara Sharp in a business career with educational credentials.

Her passion for her current marketing job stems from her role in creating it.

“Sonic has been in business for 22 years with the mission of Fixing the Internet in America,” she said. “As CMO, I founded the marketing department, led the company through a full rebranding, launched our new website, and work with my team every day to market the fastest, most affordable Internet in the U.S.”

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR COMPANY

PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: senior marketing coordinator, McDermott, Will & Emery, 2000–2003; marketing manager, Kendall Jackson Wine Estates, 2005–2007; co-founder and vice president for marketing and strategy, Capture Wines, 2008–2011; marketing, consumer direct and public relations manager, Paul Hobbs Wines, 2011–2013; co-founder, 18 Rabbits Granola Bars, 2007–present; adjunct professor, Sonoma State University, 2005–present; CMO, Sonic, 2013–present.

EDUCATION: Sonoma State University BA Communications, Business, Magna Cum Laude, Department Distinction. Murdoch University, post-graduate, International Business on a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholarship.

STAFF: 320-plus

Sonic has been in business for 22 years with the mission of Fixing the Internet in America. As CMO I founded the Marketing Department, led the company through a full rebranding, launched our new website, and work with my team every day to market the fastest, most affordable Internet in the US.

WHAT IS THE ACHIEVEMENT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?

Nursing my daughter, now age 4, who was considered a terminally ill, back to health. And nursing my husband, who had Hodgkin’s lymphoma last year, back to health. The fact that our little family of four is all alive and healthy is nothing short of a miracle.

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE TODAY?

The Internet Service industry has been a rife with lies for so many years, so most people suspect that we are lying or at least will under deliver on what we are promising. It’s proving to be difficult to get people to actually believe that we could be so nice, honest and actually do what we promised to do. But once they switch over to Sonic they are super happy and stay with us loyally for many years.

WORDS THAT BEST DESCRIBE YOU: Mother, wife, innovator, kind, driven.

AS A SUCCESSFUL FEMALE PROFESSIONAL, WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST OBSTACLES YOU FACED AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?

1. Finding opportunities that actually challenged me. This comes from being consistently under estimated, particularly in the early part of my career.

2. Managing motherhood and a demanding career. It’s a daily balancing act for me.

3. Playing big. Research has shown that in general women don’t take advantage of big opportunities and don’t set big goals. I have often times set big goals but then have been frightened by them. But when I pursue those big risks, they often work out to my advantage. Taking risks is risky, but often the most rewarding.

4. Queen bees. Shockingly I’ve had more then mentors and supporters than women. But, to be clear, I have had some powerful women who’ve been hugely supportive. I would just like to see the demise of the Queen bees.

HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR PROFESSION WILL CHANGE IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?

I expect that Sonic will grow tremendously in the next five years.

WHO WAS YOUR MOST IMPORTANT MENTOR?

Jess Jackson, founder of Kendall Jackson and Jackson family wines, was a tremendously important mentor for me. I met him when I was a teenager and he mentored me until I was about 30 years old.

WHO WAS YOUR MOST IMPORTANT MENTOR?: Grandpa

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A YOUNG WOMAN ENTERING YOUR PROFESSION OR THE WORK WORLD TODAY?

Play big. Work hard. Be nice; be honest. Work with nice people.

TYPICAL DAY AT THE OFFICE: The only thing that’s really typical about my days is that I get to spend time with some of the smartest, nicest people I’ve ever met. That may not sound like a big deal, but when you’re spending 50 hours a week with a group of people, working with smart nice people is extraordinarily important. On a good day I make a positive influence on one of my team members professional lives.

BEST PLACE TO WORK OUTSIDE OF YOUR OFFICE: I love Equator coffees two locations in Mill Valley. I also love all Pete’s coffee and tea locations because they carry my granola bar brand there and it just tickles me every time I see somebody eating one of my granola bars.

CURRENT READING: “Playing Big” by Tara Mohr. It’s a great book. I highly recommend it!

MOST WANT TO MEET: I would relish the opportunity to meet Madeline Albright, one of my all-time heroes, as well as President Obama.

SOCIAL MEDIA YOU MOST USE: Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, though I try really hard to not spend too much time on social media!

STRESS-RELIEVERS: Time with my amazing husband and our two little girls. I don’t drink alcohol unless it’s a special occasion, and then it’s only wine (from Sonoma or Napa, of course). I eat very healthfully, aside from occasional treats. I also sleep nine hours per night! I go to Soul Cycle once per week, but wish I could go more often. It’s a great stress relief.

FAVORITE HOBBIES: Considering that I have two daughters under the age of six, I don’t have much time for hobbies. But I do read occasionally.