In Dynamic Duos, Mumbrella asks two members of the same organization with a professional and personal affiliation each week to share with readers the importance of workplace relationships in an increasingly hybrid world of work.
Nat and I met in 2010. We were introduced by a former employer who thought we would make good teammates. This introduction changed my life, and I haven’t looked back since. I can honestly say Nat has my full trust, respect and love, without his partnership my personal and professional ambitions would remain a pipe dream.
We had a lot of fun getting to know each other. Especially on planes and in airport lounges because we traveled a lot together. At one point, we were both in Hong Kong and Shanghai every month with clients like Cathay Pacific and Corning. Wonderful memories at the mid-levels and on the Bund as we grew our business internationally.
Our partnership is a meeting of opposites, it is the yin of my yang; he’s always grounded, empathetic and pragmatic, which is why he compliments my flaws so well. What I admire most about Nat is his insatiable thirst for knowledge and self-improvement, driven by his natural curiosity and need to understand why things are the way they are. His inclusive nature makes him an excellent team player and he has an amazing ability to connect the dots that others may not see.
One of Nat’s traits that I appreciate the most is his ability to push me out of my comfort zone. My favorite example was when he encouraged me to forgo my 5 star vacation tendencies and take my family on an outdoor adventure through the Northern Territories. “Go learn something!” He said. To this day it is still my favorite vacation experience.
Our partnership extends both inside and outside the workplace. We try to find time throughout each year to spend quality time together and recognize the progress we have both made. Whether it’s our weekly tennis match every Thursday morning or our annual ski weekend in Thredbo with our partners.
Nat takes an incredibly balanced approach to life. Present in the moment both at home and in the office. He has the rare ability to really think from everyone’s point of view and to wear many hats at once. Over the course of a day, he will play the role of general manager, chief financial officer, chief marketing officer, chief operating officer and chief information officer. He is a true role model and I couldn’t be more excited about where the next decade of our partnership will take us.
I’m surprised we’ve never met before. It felt like our worlds were running on parallel lines, from rival agencies in the UK to arriving in Sydney at the same time and working at rival agencies here too. The reason we met was because Ben was setting up an internal agency within my primary client that took a lot of my pipeline away from me. I wasn’t very interested in a discussion about work, but the one thing about Ben is his persistence. We met over drinks and I quit the next day marking the start of our partnership.
Today, Ben is like my brother from another mother. Our relationship was built on mutual respect and trust. We are complete opposites – two sides of the same coin – we each thrive differently, so we are never in competition with each other. We appreciate our different strengths and provide unconditional support – in life and in business.
It’s the secret sauce that got us through the bad times and the good times. In difficult times, we can divide and conquer, have candid conversations, and make critical decisions with confidence. It gave us the belief that we can accomplish anything. Would I have that faith on my own? Not with as much conviction as I did with Ben by my side.
What we have achieved with We Are Unity over the past ten years is phenomenal. I’m always amazed at how quickly we can build on each other’s ideas to forge a common goal and then plan how to make the possibilities happen. We approach things from very different angles, which means we “walk around the houses” when working on an idea, but it also allows us to see the challenge through many lenses. Once we land on an idea, we are both fully convinced and the activation happens quickly.
At first, we spent a lot of time in Hong Kong and Shanghai. This journey mixed with hard work allowed us to really get to know each other, from our tastes in restaurants and wines to our origins, beliefs and aspirations. Although we are very different, there are a surprising number of similarities in our shared experiences and values. So when Ben offered to start an agency together, it was obvious to say yes. I knew it was going to be fun but there was enough common ground and a good mix of skills to make it work. Ten years later, all expectations have been exceeded.
Ben on Nat:
Most memorable moment with Nat: We have had many memorable moments over the past decade, the one that stands out the most is when we decided to build the company together. I invited Nat to the pub without too much context and floated the idea of us becoming business partners.
Break with corporate life and become master of your destiny! I remember his mouth dropping open before he leaned down and loudly exclaimed, “Let’s do this!” It was a very special moment, our precipice to leadership together. Knowing that I had Nat’s partnership to design the next chapter opened up a world of possibilities.
The best word to describe Nat: Holistic.
Nat’s most annoying habit or endearing behavior: His benevolent nature makes him authentic. He is genuinely interested in the impact on others. The consequence of every decision, especially the safety of his team and others around him, is something Nat displays every day. It really made a huge difference for many of us during the pandemic.
Nat on Ben:
Most memorable moment with Ben: We have laughed so much over the years. There are so many moments it’s hard to choose, but monogamous Chinese always makes me laugh.
The best word to describe Ben: Without fear. Ben can walk into an area with such singular focus that “no” can never be an answer.
Ben’s most annoying habit or endearing behavior: Ben goes overboard to make sure people are treated well and made to feel special. He always makes sure people are welcomed warmly, have what they need, get home safely, etc. It can be boring, but comes from a sense of honor and such a deep-rooted interest in people that it’s endearing.
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