Me and my partners

By The Drum, Administrator

January 28, 2004 | 6 min read

At the very beginning of what Gallagher, Mullen, Mullen and Wood hope will be a big success Story.

Sue Mullen, Managing Director

There are defining moments around all major decisions in your life – there was one such moment when I knew that we were going to set up Story.

Just as moments are key in such decisions, so are people ...

My decision to be part of Story was as inextricably linked to three people I trusted implicitly and wanted to stay working with. Dave, Sheila, Bex and I are the four very different people who make up the directors of Story.

I think it works for us because we complement each other well:

ïSheila takes on the role of “trouble shooter” – she keeps clients and staff happy with skills I could only dream about. Financially, you couldn’t get anyone more on the ball.

ïDave has an ability to deliver inspirational creative as well as bring it out in others. He is also the most modest and understated of the four of us, which, as I am not, also makes him hugely irritating!

ïBex brings a great “left of field” view to creative challenges – cracking some really tough briefs. She is also the most patient of the team and sees the good in most things and most people – providing a great antidote to any cynicism.

I guess that’s why we work together, in more ways than one. However, to quote Rhona Cameron from “I’m a celebrity ...”, we are all capable of being a “bit something – sometimes” – late, volatile, hysterical, scatty, impatient ... The secret is, we all know who’s what – and work with it!

Sheila Gallagher, Client Services Director

For me, the decision to be part of Story was a risk that simply had to be taken. Having worked with Sue, Dave and Bex for over five years, I had gained the utmost respect for them individually and had also developed a complete belief in their combined abilities. This is what I think each brings to the team:

Sue is sheer dynamite. Her incisive marketing mind means that she can quickly grasp client challenges and create inspired solutions, which she delivers in a refreshingly frank and open way. Her “hands-on” style makes her extremely responsive to both client and staff needs.

Bex is the calm, reasonable one. She is like oil on water when the sparks fly. Creatively, she is a brilliant lateral thinker who embraces every brief as if it was her first – no matter the scale or nature of the campaign.

Dave has an enlightened creative mind and brings a real vision to the creative process. He is his own harshest critic, always striving to break new ground. Not only does Dave’s passion infect his team, his nurturing style helps draw out the best in them. For someone with such a gift, Dave is incredibly self-effacing.

Rebecca Wood, Head of Copy

Back in Greenwood Middle School (circa 1974), a major preoccupation of mine during playtimes was hunting for “T” with my best friend Fiona.

“T” stood for treasure, naturally. (These were the innocent days before E.) Our major find was 10p buried in the mud. Mostly we found Bazooka Joe wrappers and cat poo.

Thirty years later, I’m still doing the same thing but with bigger friends – Sue, Dave and Sheila. Luckily, we’re turning up gold.

The only poo I find now is the occasional really stinking idea I come up with when I’m having a crap creative day. However, these are firmly nipped in the bud by Dave, so to speak. He makes you keep on working and thinking and agonising until you find the treasure. In other words, the kind of concept you get really excited about. The one that becomes the best thing in your book. That’s why Dave’s creative departments have turned out so many award winners, including him.

Sue has a real gift for strategic planning, and more than once has thrown a creative gem into the pot that has evolved into the central campaign thought. Then there’s Sheila, who really is breathtaking to watch with clients – especially when she’s pouring water into their groins, as happened recently. “Always a pleasure, Sheila,” the client remarked, cheerfully. It takes true skill to get away with that sort of thing. Believe me, just one of her many enviable skills.

Of course, it goes without saying that Sue is single-handedly responsible for the success of the agency. But, having said that, there are tons of riches to be found throughout Story. After all, our great people are our most precious asset.

Dave Mullen, Creative Director

I thought Story would be a bit like a 70s sitcom “Man about the Agency”. You know, Robin Tripp (Dave Mullen) thinks he’s died and gone to heaven when he finds himself sharing a business with three birds. But it turned out they only asked me to come along because they knew they’d need some flat-pack furniture assembling.

I rarely get a speaking part and when I do they still don’t listen to a word I say and rarely notice I’m even there. So now I’m going to have my say – uninterrupted.

Sue is outstanding. To many, she is the agency, and rightly so. Strategically, there are few who even come close. She cares about creativity but she’s very service-minded and practical too. From a standing start she’s grown the business at an incredible rate by anyone’s standards. She wasn’t voted “Best MD” last year for nothing.

Sheila? Clients can’t get enough of her. Like Sue, she very much has the client’s best interests at heart. Even when she’s spilling aqua naturale over their nether regions. She’s 100 per cent genuine, there’s no spin with her. Her energy is limitless. John Denholm once affectionately described her as “that little ball of fire”!

With 40+ awards to her name, Bex is an inspiration to be around. I think sometimes people think she is one of those butterfly minds they feel compelled to pin down. But there’s nothing flighty about her. The truth is, she’s probably one of the most disciplined creative people I’ve been fortunate enough to work with. And another thing, this was all her idea, the agency, the name, everything. It’s always the quiet ones, eh?

We made a little pact. We said we’d never be complacent. We said we’d not blame one another if it all went pear-shaped. We said we’d respect people. And I remember we said, let’s have an adventure. And we have.


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