Balancing the Grind with Lucy Formosa Morgan, National Managing Director at PHD

Lucy Formosa Morgan is the National Managing Director at PHD, a communications planning and media buying network with offices around the world.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

After studying International Marketing Management at University in the UK, I, like many, many other people, kind of fell into the media industry! 

I didn’t know what area of marketing I wanted to specialise in, so I sent my CV off to a number of different ad and media agencies and landed a grad role at Zenith Media in London (as it was known back then). I’ve been working in the media industry since then, for over 20 years, both in the UK and Australia. 

For the majority of my media career, I’ve specialised in the investment / trading side of the business – the side where you’re very much held to account by the numbers you put forward. There’s no doubt it’s thrown varying degrees of stress at me, but at the same time, it’s also offered great opportunities and development. 

I joined PHD over nine years ago and over that time I’ve been fortunate enough to have been given the opportunity to take on several different roles. 

Over the last few years, I expanded my remit to incorporate not only Chief Investment Officer duties across the business, but also taking on other areas such as some of our specialist business units (Content and Research, for example) and the Commercial side of things. 

I was promoted into the joint MD role at the start of this year, working alongside a great operator in Stuart Bailey. I still retain the key elements of my previous role, but I am now far more business focused. We were only six weeks into our new MD roles when COVID hit, so it’s been a year of surprises, that’s for sure.

There are a few mandates that I’ve always demanded of myself throughout my career:

  • You’ve got to love what you do and be passionate about your job. If that passion starts to wane, then it’s time to regroup and change things up. 
  • Work for great people. I’ve been really fortunate to have always worked with people I’ve respected immensely.  
  • If you’re not happy, speak up. Only you know what you genuinely want, and if you don’t talk about it, how will anyone else know? No one is going to look after you like you can, so speak up and say what you think. 

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

I’ve got two kids so by the time I get into the office or sit down at my home office, I feel like I’ve been up for hours and done a day’s work already. 

My work day varies day by day, as I’m sure it does for a lot of people. I spend a massive amount of the day in meetings, be they internal, with our clients, or with our media partners. Once you throw some pitches into the mix, coupled with people management, and a ridiculous volume of emails, the rest of my time is soon pretty much taken up. 

It’s a good day when I can have some time getting reacquainted with my laptop and just catching up on things. That seems to be what Fridays are for!

Saying that, though, my assistant and I are trying to set up blocks for meetings so that I can have more white space to be more productive and allow room for more creative thinking. It’s a work in progress!

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

Absolutely, although I will admit that prior to COVID I really didn’t spend many days working from home as I didn’t find myself to be as productive.

Shift forward six months to now, and I put that down to not having the optimal home office set up in place previously. Two months into lockdown and squinting at a laptop screen at the kitchen table made me relook at the situation. 

I’ve now got a great home office setup in place, so no matter if I’m in the office or at home, I feel productive.

For me, the silver lining to COVID has been adapting my thinking about productivity and working from home (who doesn’t live on a virtual meeting these days?!) and being more present for the kids. They’ve absolutely loved it, so my goal is to try to create a happy balance when ‘normal’ life resumes.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

Years ago when I first had kids, I made a promise to myself that I’d try to get home most nights for bedtime. Obviously there are nights when that’s simply not possible, but for the rest of the time, there’s no excuse – I didn’t want to be a weekend parent. 

Even if I do walk out of the office at 6pm, I’m more than happy to log back on later in the evening once the kids are in bed, as it gives me the balance that I want.   

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5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life? 

I think COVID turned things upside down for so many people, and with that, their routines. 

When we all first went into lockdown back in March, I found that I wasn’t exercising enough and that was having an impact on me mentally and on my stress levels. As soon as I built yoga and exercise back into my daily routine, things started to calm down again for me.  

I’ve loved being able to take the kids to school too, when I’ve been working from home, and sitting down at the table to eat dinner as a family. 

We’re also very much into sustainability at home, so I’ve really enjoyed having the time in the evenings that I would usually have spent commuting to cook up meals using our homegrown produce. Life has become much simpler during COVID. 

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

I’ve been trying to read a wide variety of books recently rather than just on one topic or podcast, with topics ranging from biographies to management styles.

I’m also very passionate about the environment and sustainability, which is something I have carried into my role at PHD, where our Sydney office was named Most Sustainable Agency. Keeping informed on sustainability is a keen interest of mine. 

I’ve also really enjoyed the inspirational interviews that Cuppa of Life and Business Chicks have been putting on over the last six months. It’s fascinating hearing other people’s stories, what they’ve been through and how they’ve got to where they are now.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

I’d probably have to say my phone, as much as I hate admitting it!

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?  

Everyone has a different opinion on this subject, so much as I enjoy everyone’s different accounts, I do find work-life balance to be personal. There’s no right or wrong; everyone’s just trying to juggle things as best as possible. 

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Personally, I believe you need to think about what matters to you, and how you can fit that into your work and personal life and then go from there.

If you have the conversation with your boss about wanting to do the school drop off or to be home early enough to have dinner with the family, more often than not I’m sure they’ll work with you to manage it in some way. Human spirit is to help each other.  

We do need to lead from the top, though, to show that it’s fine to build family time into our lives and not just on the weekend. Only then will this balance become more accepted and more the norm. 

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.