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The importance of trust, by Gordon Carver

What has been your most memorable experience with Hawthorn?

The initial months of the pandemic come to mind. I’d been at Hawthorn less than a year and there was a ton of positive momentum. Then overnight, everything was up in the air. As a Senior Director, people look to you in times of uncertainty for your experience. But at the start of the pandemic, we were all in the same boat. As a leadership team, we tried lots of things that were unfamiliar. Some worked, lots failed. We regrouped, tried things differently, made some progress, took some steps back. It was exhausting. But when things clicked, it was exciting. I remember a client signing off on a new scope a few weeks into lockdown, at a time when everything was up and in the air and we thought nobody was going to put pen to paper on new projects. It was great to get validation that we were doing things right!

What advice would you give someone who is looking to work at Hawthorn?

Jump in with both feet. For someone in the early stages of their career, there are incredible opportunities to learn and try out new things. For more senior folk, the learning never stops! This and access to a network that’s second to none, are part of what makes Hawthorn great.

How do you balance the sometimes 24/7 nature of working in public relations and the 24/7 reality of being a father of two children?

It’s a constant work in progress, and things can get thrown out of sync by a client crisis, but having a partner and colleagues who are supportive, and understanding is a big help.

While there’s always flex in the working day, anything outside is usually set in stone at least a month out. This means I’ve missed my share of post work pints but am yet to be fined for not picking my kids up on time (yes, they really do fine you!).

How has a growing family impacted your philosophy, approach, and view of work?

Having a growing family has shown me the importance of trust. Early on in my career, and really right up until the time my first son was born, I was often the first one in and the last one out of the office. I remember calling a client on the morning my son was scheduled to be born to check in on a project. Being a mother of two herself, she told me to hang up and go and look after my wife!

Getting back into work once your life has changed so seismically is a challenge, and for a while I defaulted back to working all hours, trying to adjust to my ‘new job’ as a dad and keep all the plates spinning professionally. All that happened is I became miserable and sick.

One day I decided that I couldn’t be the person who was always in the office all the time, nor did I need to be! I’d built a stellar team who got on with things and who I could trust. What I needed to focus my energy on was giving them direction and being the best version of myself when I was with them. Once I accepted that, things fell into place. Trust in the people you work with is absolutely key.

What career advice would you give to your younger self?

Keep making those connections. I’ve been lucky enough to cross paths professionally with some exceptional people in my career who have gone on to achieve amazing things in media, business, and politics. The concept of making connections and ‘who you know’ were alien to me early on in my career, but as I got more senior, I’ve seen the value of them. There are definitely more than a handful of people I wish I’d worked a bit harder at keeping in touch with.