Jane Morgan | The Innovator 25 Asia-Pacific 2021

Jane Morgan

MD, Hong Kong

Hong Kong

"Innovation doesn't have to be a brand new solution but can simply be a different way of thinking through being plugged into society conversations"

Jane Morgan's work as MD of Golin Hong Kong involves much more than consistently growing the office during a deep and difficult downturn in the territory's fortunes. Morgan has also been a vocal advocate for the challenges facing women in the PR industry, where they are still far too likely to "disappear" as they ascend the corporate ladder. Morgan oversees Golin's regional DEI council and has developed a range of initiatives, including a personalised training budget, an on-site positive psychology counsellor and an industry-wide initiative to combat unnecessary overtime. Morgan is also building regional client engagement infrastructure in her expanded role as Asia-Pacific head of client services.

How do you define innovation?
Innovation has to exist for us to find solutions to the world's existing and emerging problems. Innovation is trying new things, doing things differently, testing, trialling, not being afraid to fail and not giving up on adoption of a new concept if you think it's a positive step forward.

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
I loved Project UNI-FORM in Taiwan, by Ogilvy. for VOGUE. With uniforms traditionally different for girls and boys, they took a Vogue fashion designer and created a gender neutral version. A great example of tackling a decades-old tradition, sparking conversation and creating a visual representation of equality. All done in a modern and relevant way.

In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing?
Airbnb did some solid work this year with the Afghanistan immigrant crisis — acting quickly and supporting a global need very naturally given its business. HSBC PayMe has an agile team that seem to jump on current trends (such as Mirror) and deploy tech solutions quickly to drive engagement. Innovation doesn't have to be a brand new solution but can simply be a different way of thinking through being plugged into society conversations.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider 'innovative.'
I try to be 'innovative' every year when we assess performance and needs. My innovation usually comes in the form of employee initiatives such as a personalised training budget, kick-starting an APAC DEI programme, an on-site positive psychology counsellor or an industry wide initiative to combat unnecessary overtime. As for clients, it's the same process. Each year I analyse growing need areas and practices and invest in what is needed to grow those areas. For example our new health and wellness practice in 2019, or the ESG practice this year.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation?
Anyone in the tech and science space! I am terrible at technology but I know it is the driving force behind how we move forward as an industry and as a society. This year I have worked closely with Jonny Bentwood, Golin's global head of data — he is literally a rocket scientist, building new and evolving AI solutions for client needs. And then there's our client Collinson who in early 2020 pivoted its business to create Covid testing and was one of the first to deploy in-airport testing. These minds work at such speed, weighing up needs and finding solutions. It's very impressive.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
Read. Go and sit in Starbucks and people watch. Speak to different people. Take a break and watch some comedy to loosen up.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
One, don't innovate for the sake of it. Spend time understanding what problems there are that you, the company or the brands you represent can solve. Two, don't do it alone. The industry initiative focused on work life balance I mentioned earlier was not my idea, it was former Goliner Iris Yeung's during a workshop session. Seek feedback from those you are trying to help to understand their mindset and thoughts. The initiative is being led by the next generation of PRHK leaders, because they know much better than I do as to what they need to be successful and happy. My role is simply to drive and counsel to help garner support and bring it to life. Three, take your time. We do not have infinite time. You might not have the answer now but keep working at it and if you achieve only part of the goal, it's still progress.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?
Well I'd like to be a fitness instructor (I trained as one when I was 16 but never completed the course because I was too shy to give group classes), and spend my time in the gym, doing yoga, running and swimming.

But in terms of transferable skills I love the psychology behind building teams and the feeling of helping people, so maybe an industry psychologist.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through this year or provided inspiration?
Books — I love Murakami and have recently finished IQ84. It didn't inspire me as much as helped me to switch off from the busy days as it needs quite some concentration to flip between existential worlds.
TV shows — Squid Games / Your Honour / Succession / Wandavision / The Man in the High Castle / Below Deck / RHOBH. I take different things from each. I like the complex human emotions that come with Squid Games and Your Honour, the drama of Succession, the escapism and alternative thinking of Wanda Vision and the modern human insights (however awful) that come with reality TV.
Movies  — I am a huge Marvel fan and loved The Black Widow. Those girls kicked-ass. The Dig starring Ralph Fiennes as an archaeologist was a beautiful, historical film from earlier this year, bringing home how important it is to do things you are passionate about and seize the day.
Podcasts — I listen to Katherine Ryan, a UK comedian. For me she's to the point, very real and never fails to make me laugh. Industrywise, PRovoke and PRWeek plus Professor Scott Galloway — I love how he thinks and how he challenges the norm with data. He's also very funny.
Music — My Spotify says Paw Patrol is my most played song. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

What's your favourite time of day and why?
The morning. I have breakfast with my husband and my three year old twins before dropping them to school and heading into the office. I love stepping into their innocent world. This is an age where we need to teach them how the world should be, not what it is. Their innocent questions and conversations always make me smile and give context to what's going on around us. They often help with creative ideas too, so I get into the office ready for the day.