Mo Hamdouna is the Managing Director at Mo Works, a full service, independent creative agency based in Melbourne.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
For over 7 years, I have been running a successful creative agency here in Melbourne. Prior to this, I have worked in agencies in Australia and the MENA region.
Currently, our diverse team at Mo Works work to assist Australian companies (within the technology, energy, cyber and education industries) to build their brand, digital products and support their growth.
Additionally, we work closely with Government agencies and local councils in launching various business support programs, consultation and training. I am also the co-founder of Hatch Quarter, a startup incubator and a research agency.
Over the last 7 years, I have grown the team at Mo Works to what we see now as a full-stack creative and digital agency. I am a strong advocate for digital innovation and using technology to advance our lives, sustain our world and create opportunities for new markets.
At the moment, I am working on launching our first digital product, Scarlet. Scarlet is a personal mini-website and digital business card all in one with added features to it like bookings and launchpad links.
2) What does a day in life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
A business day in life fits into a healthy routine. My morning always starts with family time considering I have 2 kids and a dog all under 5 and my partner is also running her own business. We squeeze morning playtime on a daily basis which I believe gives my day a positive start.
I begin work at 9:30 AM with a preplanned list from the night before. At 10 AM, I have calls with different heads of departments to go through their plans, any hurdles or queries. I have a fixed time for meetings and rarely book meetings outside my schedule.
Finally, to finish up I meet with certain people that I am working with for a debrief and a highlight of what we need to work on the next morning – or my “night” shift.
After business hours, I block out time for the family again and once the kids go to sleep, I tend to squeeze in another 2-3 hours of work where I get to do my tasks or check on the work from the team.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
When we started Mo Works, it was my freelance work – so the flexibility of time and location got embedded within the DNA of the business. As a creative agency that helps businesses in their digital transformation, you would expect that we have a good cloud setup in place which helps me to work remotely.
Pre-COVID-19, I participated in multiple trade missions with the Victorian Government or Austrade and with that opportunity, we would extend the trip to a vacation visiting family in Jordan and France at least twice a year. This has set a foundation for our working culture and an example for our team.
The entire Mo Works team are experienced in working remotely and have efficiently maintained our advisory services and operations during the Working From Home (WFH) orders. We have become better at it especially after the lengthy lockdown periods that we experienced here in Melbourne.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Sustaining a healthy work-life balance leads to developing greater control over our focus and ability to concentrate on the task at hand. This is about mindfulness.
A healthy work-life balance will help to create an environment where everyone is dedicated to the task at hand. You will quickly observe improving retention rates, profit, and productivity.
Also, I lead by example with the team. I leave if I have to pick the kids from daycare or attend to something personal. No need to lie about doing “personal” things during business hours as life happens. Also, I always leave the office on time as I also want to arrive home early and relax.
Here’s what has helped me, to strike my balance:
- Having specific spaces to work. Not working from the bed/kitchen table.
- Spending mornings with the family
- Not checking emails / social media the first thing in the morning.
- Prepare my morning the day before — and prepare my week the week before
- Having dinner by 6:30 pm, and winding down with family after that
- Really enjoying the weekend
I remember that I used to brag about working my weekends and holidays. Now I value the weekends as my personal time to rest and relax. The goal here is to clear my mind during the down period so that I can keep my mind focused throughout the workday.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I started some activities with my right hand since I am a lefty like brushing my teeth and shaving. This is great as it helps to balance my body. Workwise, I organise my requirements on Thursday as a checkpoint to see what must be done on Friday to remove the pressure on Monday or Friday.
Another big one is, I stopped being a “YES” man. A couple of years ago I got into the mindset of saying more yeses to unlock more opportunities. But with time, this ended up draining me into agreeing on many things that were difficult for me to deliver.
Now, I am balancing my YESes and NOs for new things based on my current schedule, value-added and more.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
Two of my favourite books are Creativity, Inc. and Beloved Brands.
Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmul, a cofounder of Pixar Disney where he takes us in the story of founding Pixar, growing it and how to run a creative company. It is about human interaction, communication and connection. It also breaks the barriers associated with company hierarchy, realistic project timelines and so much more. Beloved Brands is a step by step guide on creating successful brands and presence.
For podcasts, I listen a lot to HBR IdeaCast and No Bullsh!t Leadership.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
The funny thing is I actually couldn’t find an answer to this question and had to check my mobile. Surprisingly, the Notes app is my favourite one! I like other apps like Mealime, Slack, LinkedIn, Spotify and CommBank.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I enjoyed reading a couple of Balance The Grind interviews. Well done on bringing these conversations forward!
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
“Do what you’ll love, and you’ll never work another day in your life” is an overrated statement. Of course, I am a big fan of doing what you love and that is exactly what I am doing. I love my work and how I am helping our partners. But work is work and we need to keep a clear distinction between that and my personal and family life.
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