Dynamic Duos: A friend and a confidante, a work wife

In this week's Dynamic Duos, JCDecaux's NSW sales directors, Morgan Hannaford and Gemma Watkins, share their journey of navigating a dual leadership role, including the challenges they've overcome together, and the memories they've made thanks to working in media.

In Dynamic Duos, Mumbrella each week asks two colleagues with a professional and personal affiliation to share with readers the importance of workplace relationships in an increasingly hybridised world of work.

Morgan Hannaford:

My story with Gemma began back in 2019 when JCDecaux merged with APN Outdoor. We had quite separate roles at the time with me being focused on independent agencies, and Gemma on the holding companies.

Between overlapping parental leave and a pandemic, we didn’t really get an opportunity to work closely. But I always knew Gem to be a beacon of positivity who was always so friendly and generous with her time and was clearly a widely respected leader within our business.

At the end of 2021 as we were emerging out of Covid and with the size and scale of the team growing, JCDecaux decided to create two sales director roles in NSW, and Gemma and I were appointed. With Gemma about to start her maternity leave and with me about to return from mine, it wasn’t until 2023 our partnership truly started. Our connection was evident and bloomed as we discussed our goals and vision for the team.

It was clear we were aligned and committed to our dual leadership role which was inexplicitly built on trust and teamwork. We wanted to build a solid team, where everyone wins together. Gemma’s friendly energy and enviable listening and problem-solving skills were just what our team needed. She’s like the calm in my occasional storm, always offers diplomatic and logical solutions and keeps things (and me) on track.

Fast forward to now and its feels like we have been working together for decades. Gemma’s not just a colleague; she’s a friend and a confidante who I affectionately call my ‘work wife’. I can’t imagine navigating the ups and downs of work without her.

Gemma is the epitome of professionalism and warmth. Her genuine nature and dedication to our team’s success have been the driving force behind our partnership. Gemma’s support and infectious energy have left an indelible mark on our journey. We’ve overcome challenges, celebrated successes, and forged a bond beyond that of our professional lives. She makes me laugh on the daily and I’m looking forward to many more years of shared triumphs with Gemma by my side.

Gemma Watkins:

When Morgan Hannaford enters the scene, you know things are going to get done.

Our journey kicked off in 2019 with the JCDecaux-APN Outdoor merger. But it wasn’t until later that we really connected. It should have been daunting to go on maternity leave after only a few months in the new sales director roles and having only two weeks with Morgan before my maternity leave, but she made it very easy.

In the short time we had together we hit it off. We developed an automatic trust in each other and that has helped us work side by side, make decisions together, and build a lot of positive momentum as a team. Our teamwork started to take shape in those early days, blending Morgan’s go-getter attitude with my measured approach.

One of the things I most admire about Morgan is the lens she constantly puts on things. She’s always looking at how to make things better, more valuable and more efficient. It’s inspiring and has resulted in a lot of positive change over the last two and a half years. Morgan is someone that knows how to get stuff done.

What I admire most about Morgan is her ability to lead with empathy. She’s always there to guide us through tough decisions and celebrate our wins. Our partnership isn’t just about work; it’s about friendship too. From brainstorming sessions to late-night chats, Morgan adds a touch of fun to everything we do. I’m lucky to have her as a colleague and a friend.

Morgan and I have a synergy that’s been there from the beginning which underscores everything we do. At times it’s a weird synergy like we’ll often turn up in similar outfits. Or when our husbands crossed paths playing golf then quickly realised the connection to us.

Morgan embodies resilience and determination. Her strategic prowess and commitment to our team’s success have been instrumental in shaping our partnership. From our initial encounter to our ongoing collaboration, Morgan’s leadership and support have been a constant source of inspiration. As we navigate the dynamic landscape of media sales, I am grateful for Morgan’s friendship, guidance, and dedication to our shared vision.

Morgan on Gemma:

Most memorable moment with Gemma: We’ve had some amazing experiences together thanks to the perks and privileges of working in media sales (The Australian Open and Melbourne Grand Prix). But one of the most memorable moments together was when we had external validation that our strategy for our team was working! Our first Media I score showed that our team’s happiness was #1 which confirmed they were onboard with our vision and that the positive energy we have invested was paying dividends.

Best word to describe her: Authentic.

Most annoying habit or endearing behaviour she has: Gemma is the biggest social butterfly I know. It’s incredibly endearing as she chats to everyone and can talk to anyone about anything. There aren’t that many people in the world with her social skills. Consequently, everyone wants to be her best friend, which is sweet, but the downside is that it’s almost impossible to get her to leave a bar or event at a reasonable time!

Gemma on Morgan:

Most memorable moment with Morgan: Hands down it must be our trip to the Australian Open in 2023. I’d just come back from maternity leave, and we were taking some clients down there. Morgan and I had barely spent any time together at that point but on our six am flight we were the only ones not snoozing. Instead, we talked the whole way there (sorry row behind) and really got to know each other’s back stories and future hopes and ambitions. Looking back, it set the tone for our relationship: honest, fun and full of energy.

Best word to describe her: Driven.

Most annoying habit or endearing behaviour she has: One of the phrases that Morgan is known for is, ‘hope is not a strategy’. I think this is endearing because it’s a reflection of Morgan’s strategic mind and the energy and hard work that she puts into all that she touches!


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