Dynamic Duos: ‘It’s what makes us different that helps make it work’

This week in Dynamic Duos, Havas Host's CEO, Gayle While, and Havas Creative Group's CSO, Olly Taylor, reflect on their complementary work styles, their shared values and passions, and how they push each other to always be the best.

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.

Gayle While:

In my first meeting with Olly I was blown away by his unwavering creative energy, and the passion he has for his role and the agency. It goes beyond pride and is an infectious sense of possibility.

Olly is undoubtably one of the best strategic thinkers around but is so humble with it. He brings focus and a genuine sense of collaboration in the way he goes about his work. His blend of strategic insight and creative brilliance pushes every project and has helped create iconic work. Not that he would ever talk too much or shine a spotlight on his contribution to the work.

Olly and I are so different in so many ways, I bring the optimism and sense of can do, always ready to tackle challenges head-on, and Olly is the challenger who brings that healthy dose of skepticism, ensuring we stay focused on the job to be done, and consider all potential options. Olly brings logic and I bring momentum.

Our diverse thinking helps to push both of us into new and sometimes uncomfortable spaces. It gives us a reason to try new things. Believe it or not, it’s also a lot of fun too. It works. Our shared values and passion to create work that matters aligns us. It means that we can be tough on the work, and the end goal, rather than on each other.

One of his greatest qualities is that Olly is a genuine nurturer of talent. Don’t let that gruff demeanour fool you. He cares. A lot.

He cares about the people, the work, our clients. He pushes to ensure people have the right growth paths, and that we’re consistently giving clients the right work to achieve their objectives and ambitions. He doesn’t settle for mediocre or ‘good enough’. Qualities that I seek in people and respect so much in Olly.

Working with Olly pushes me daily to be better. I never take for granted that I get the opportunity to learn and be inspired by, and in awe of, his strategic problem-solving skills.

Olly Taylor:

Whilst I’ve been lucky enough to experience long term relationships in senior leadership teams, some over 10 years, Gayle and I have only been working together for just over a year. It’s been a hectic and fast-moving year and yet even in this short amount of time we’ve developed a dynamic that feels like we’ve working together far longer. In a good way! Our duo is based on shared values, hunger for success and the ability to keep moving forward. Try it, try something else, try something else again but importantly keep moving forward.

I’m a strong believer in the power of first impressions and mine of Gayle was she was a person that shared my outlook and is someone I’m going to learn form. It started that way and still is that way. The first time I met Gayle for a coffee as incoming CEO in a business I had been working in for a long time, could have gone two ways. But even after 5 mins I knew this would be a good working relationship. She bounded in full of laser intelligence, respect for what had been built, and with energy and insight into what more could be achieved.

Good relationships are forged in the bad times as well as the good times and anyone working in our industry right now is facing their fair share of problems. How Gayle deals with the problems a business faces are what I truly admire. There’s little time wasted on deconstructing why we have the problem, the energy is spent on how the problem is going to be solved. It takes confidence and optimism to do this and that’s something that I’ve found empowering and exciting. Seeing Gayle in problem solution mode is a force to behold or a Galyewind as I call it. She puts everything into everything and won’t let any little hiccups get in the way. We feed off each other’s restless desire for better.

Whilst we have shared values and a similar work ethic, like any relationship it’s what makes us different that helps make it work. As a strategist I’m fully focused on answering the consumer problem and as CEO Gayle is more focused on the business opportunity. This in-built tension means we are better as a unit than individually. It’s partly because we think differently that the duo remains dynamic. My pessimism to Gayle optimism. What makes it work is that both of us care deeply about the output, our people and our business which means if we disagree it’s never personal. It’s just a difference of opinion. It’s this frankness of exchange that is refreshing.

Finally and probably the most importantly is that I have a lot of respect for Gayle both in her work and how hard she works. And with respect everything is possible.

Gayle on Olly:

Most memorable moment with Olly: Any time you see Olly genuinely happy.

Celebrating his 20 year anniversary at Host (Havas) was really special. It isn’t every day that you get the privilege of celebrating the amazing impact someone’s had not just on an agency, but the numerous clients and people he’s worked with over that time. It was a genuine moment of reflection on the amazing contribution Olly has made to the industry. Although I remember it with a little haze, I’m not sure Olly has much memory of the day.

Best way to describe him: Tireless. In his drive for excellence in the pursuit of meaningful ideas. Olly also brings a relentless and infectious sense of curiosity.

Most annoying habit or endearing behaviour he has: It’s actually a combination of the two – Olly’s inability to remember his keys, phone, laptop, glasses, bag, coat. You name it and he’ll leave it behind.

He once ‘ghosted’ after a long lunch leaving all his belongings in the pub. We thought he’d just nipped out for a call. He only realised once he got home that he couldn’t pay the cab or get into his house. He didn’t even have his phone to call us and ask if we had his stuff.

The agency is very familiar with Olly’s all staff ‘has anyone seen my <insert hard to lose object>’ and ‘thank you to the person who found my stuff’ emails.

Olly on Gayle:

Most memorable moment with Gayle: Being at Mumbrella360 and finding out that we’d won IKEA, the first pitch we had done together for a brand we both loved.

Best way to describe her: Restless.

Most annoying habit or endearing behaviour she has: Her mind works so fast sometimes we can’t keep up.


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