Dynamic Duos: The great minds that think alike

In this week's Dynamic Duos, Ampel's chief production officer Josh Butt and chief strategy officer Michelle Lomas share how their instant connection and mind-merging has led to the ultimate partnership.

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.

Josh Butt:

When Michelle arrived at Mediacom, we instantly hit it off. We both were pushing big media solutions for our clients’ needs, but at the same time, that rubbed against the flow of day-to-day media agency work – and she was determined to succeed in what was quite a tough role.

I was disappointed when our time working together was cut short when she took off for a role in New York; but we kept in touch. When she returned to Sydney we started meeting for coffees and what struck me was how savvy she was about solving clients’ needs in media with great strategy, but also understood how production needed to be a part of the initial strategy process, not at the end of the line like in most creative / media agencies.

Her publishing experience mixed with agency just made it click for us and I think once we realised that our experiences together would mean we could essentially start an audio agency with just the two of us. And at some point, it just started happening. We’ve changed directions, refined processes but the biggest strength we have is that we don’t try to force our ideas on each other – we refine all ideas until we usually end up liking the other’s thinking more than our own. This mind-merge coupled with very supportive partners and a familial approach means we seek to deliver fun, well-connected, thought-out ideas and for me, that’s why I like working with Michelle and why we work well together.

Michelle Lomas:

Josh and I met around eight years ago when I was working as head of brand partnerships at Mediacom, and he was head of production at Mediacom Beyond. We were thrown into a few projects together like Westpac Air Rescue, but my time working there was short as I moved to New York around 6 months into the role.

After a few years in New York, I moved back to Sydney and started working at (then) Bauer, and that’s when Josh and I reconnected. He was starting his own thing at the time, and was keen to work with us. But then Covid hit, and sadly I found myself one of the many that was made redundant. Personally it was a tough time for me, with no roles going at the time, and the world in flux. I knew I didn’t want another full-time gig, and I had the feeling this was time for me to start my own thing. So I started consulting, and at the same time, Josh I would meet for regular coffees where he would give me great and generous advice on how to start my own business.

It’s honestly one of Josh’s most special qualities – he always has time for people, always is open to help and support colleagues and friends and wants to see everyone succeed. And having that support at such an unknown time was truly, I think where our relationship grew. One of those regular coffee catch ups Josh suggested launching a full-service audio agency, and it quickly moved from there, and now here we are!

Josh on Michelle:

Most memorable moment with Michelle: We were recently engaged by a client to come up with some ideas for an audio logo – but this client, was unique as they needed their audio logo to cover not only video, audio but also live events and other offline activations, which requires a certain flexibility to it. While interrogating the brief, we were communicating without saying much. Once the client left and we were able to chat freely, we discovered we had four fully formed ideas between us, which were bang on strategy. It highlighted to us just how in sync we have become. And it is quite surreal how many times this moment plays out with us, each memorable for just how easy it is to work together when someone is on the same page as you.

Best word to describe her: Michelle is realistic, thoughtful and enthusiastic.

Most annoying habit or endearing behaviour she has: Mish loves to touch everything – whether it’s our studio, audio, words on a page or everything on the walls. While it can be annoying when we need to get things out fast, I also rely on it as I know how important it is that our work is always the best it can be. She cares so much that it wouldn’t be ours without it.

Michelle on Josh:

Most memorable moment with Josh: It might seem strange to say this but my most memorable moment with Josh has been the hardest. As with any new startup we went through a bit of a rough patch around eight months ago, which led to some big and sudden changes, a reinvention of our brand and shift in product. It was a tough period, where both of us really felt the stress at work, at home, and with each other and the business. But we had a very important policy to be honest with each other through this period, no matter how hard the conversation. And that has really strengthened our relationship and built a lot of trust. We respectfully disagree often, but with care and supportiveness which means we opens up divergent thinking, while working to a unified vision.

Best word to describe him: Josh is optimistic, passionate and generous.

Most annoying habit or endearing behaviour he has: Josh is an eternal optimist which can be annoying sometimes when we are working through a firestorm, and we need to dig into what happened – but for the most part endearing. I tend to be more of a realist. I will often seek out the ‘what could go wrong’ just in case it does go wrong. Whereas Josh always has this unending positivity and approach that everything will be ok. It’s a wonderful quality to have, and one that probably makes us such a good team. Sometimes when the reality of running a new business feels a little overwhelming, Josh is always there to talk me through it and give me some things to remember to stay positive.

If you and a colleague would like to submit your story to Dynamic Duos, please email Lauren at lmcnamara@mumbrella.com.au.


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