Founding Partners Melanie Bridge and Sharlene George Become Global Co-CEOs of The Sweetshop
Sharlene George (l) and Melanie Bridge
  • AUCKLAND, New Zealand
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Over two decades ago, director Melanie Bridge, producer Sharlene George, and chairperson Paul Prince started the New Zealand-based production house, The Sweetshop. Since then, the company has grown in prominence and impact, picking up such honors as multiple Cannes Lions and D&AD Pencils, and extending its global reach with offices in L.A., London, Shanghai, Bangkok, Sydney, Melbourne and the Auckland flagship. 

Founding partners Bridge and George are now charged with ushering The Sweetshop into a new era, becoming global co-CEOs of the company. They succeed Wilf Sweetland who’s been with The Sweetshop for 12 years, having started out by overseeing the company’s Australian business. As he departs to achieve a more apt work-life balance, Sweetland said, “It has been such a pleasure to be involved with everyone at The Sweetshop and to play a part in this great company, producing some of the best work in the world. I thank Paul dearly for his support and guidance over the years, and I’m thrilled that my successors Sharlene and Melanie are leading as co-CEOs into the next chapter.” 

Splitting the responsibilities is a strategic set-up for Bridge and George, and their complementary skillsets enable them to drive the company forward more effectively. “Sharing the CEO job plays to each of our strengths perfectly,” said Bridge. “Sharlene’s skills are more in the production areas, while mine focus more on the creative. My experience as a director is a wonderful asset, as every executive decision comes through this filter.” ”

George has recently been harnessing her production skills on longer-form content and will now bring that in-house. The Sweetshop will continue to produce crafted commercials and expand into documentary and scripted feature films, digital and television series, and ambitious, outside-of-the-box branded content. George and Bridge aim to support the directors on their roster who have their eyes set on the long-form as well as those who already have a knack for critically acclaimed features.

Introduced by a mutual acquaintance some 20-plus years ago, Bridge and George forged a relationship that along with The Sweetshop has been grounded in warmth, mutual respect, breakthrough creativity, and feminine fierceness. “As we step up to co-CEOs, I feel incredibly lucky to have my friend and business partner Sharlene by my side and be the yin to my yang,” shared Bridge. ”I feel that this is the perfect time to step back from directing and return to the forefront of the company. 

George said, “Our global reach allows us access to the best the industry has to offer--but we are still the same Kiwi Company that started in 2001, one that upholds values of kindness, inclusion, sustainability and ingenuity. Our heritage as a brand is important to us, and we’re also really mindful about keeping the company modern and fresh.”

Their most ambitious (and well-underway) endeavor is seeking the prestigious B-Corp certification. This hard-to-achieve designation indicates that a business meets the highest performance, ecological accountability, diversity, equity and inclusion standards--yet another way The Sweetshop is stepping boldly into a new era.

“I am very excited to circle back to where we started and reconnect with the company’s roots. Sharlene and Melanie are two of the most experienced, passionate, hardworking and smart people I know,” commented Prince, who will continue to serve as board chairman. “Of course, I have so much gratitude for Wilf and everything he has done for The Sweetshop. A global production company has many moving parts, and his strength in production and relationships has been an enormous asset. We wish him the best of luck with his future endeavors.”

New Zealand’s Commercial Communications Council via its CAANZ Axis Awards has designated The Sweetshop as Production Company of the Year 10 times.


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