Leon Mooney (Managing Director – middle), Brianna Banning (Community Manager – right), and Cat Mulgrew (Community Ambassador – left) are the familiar faces who eagerly serve and support the Works community, but theres a lot more to their roles than meets the eye.
“I like to think of myself as the human LinkedIn who connects the different people and businesses within our spaces,” Brianna says. “I enjoy curating and activating the community, being there for whatever they need, as well as taking the lead on our digital marketing and operations side of the business.”
Cat is the self-proclaimed ‘people person’; the team concurs that she really represents the human side of Works. “I take care of our community and the spaces that it occupies. I’m focused on what people see and experience when they walk into a Works space, and on helping our residents with anything they need, no matter how big or small.” “She is our bright shiny face who brings pizzaz to the business,” Brianna says, “and it doesn’t hurt that she has the memory of an elephant!” Cat is equally effusive about Brianna. “She really keeps all the logistics humming in the background to ensure a seamless work experience for our members.”
Both Brianna and Cat also acknowledge that a big part of the work is in supporting Leon’s big ideas – and sometimes reining them in a bit when necessary. “As well as the overall responsibility for the business, I focus on the big picture of our service delivery; trying to reimagine what the workspace is and redefine it,” Leon says. “We’ve always been at the leading edge of hybrid work by nature of us having been in business pre-COVID, but there’s still room to grow and plan for the future.”
Leon jokes that his job is mostly to do what Brianna and Cat tell him, as they have their finger on the pulse of the Works community. “I can’t be everywhere and see everything so, in the best possible way, they act as an extension of me. They have great relationships across our spaces and they help me ensure that our members get the most out of their experience here. They both align very well with my vision and values for the business, and bring a shade of personality that I couldn’t bring. Bri is the implementer who brings ideas to life and Cat is the glue; the bright spark who represents the brand throughout the space. One of the unique things about Works is that we spend a lot of time with our customers’ customers, so the community ambassador work is especially important.”
Another piece of the puzzle is Works’ supported members, often early stage or growing startups who need a leg up with some workspace. Since Works’ inception, Leon and his team have worked with these fledgeling businesses to create viable coworking opportunities that are beneficial to all. “The membership-supported residents here are a fantastic tool to activate the space and they invariably pay back dividends in good outcomes for the Christchurch community.” Cat adds, “it’s a great way to bring in businesses that wouldn’t necessarily seek out coworking, and add some additional variety and vibrancy to the space.”
It is clear that the team has a genuine trust and camaraderie between them which shapes the overall dynamic of the Works spaces. “One of the things that helps us be successful,” Brianna says, “is that human-to-human relationship. Sure, it’s easy to automate a lot of things, but us being able to work alongside each other and our customers every day makes a huge difference.” “We all just pick up where each other left off,” Cat adds. “If one of us is away, we just make it work. Even though there is a hierarchy, it really doesn’t feel like it.”
None of this is by accident, Leon says. “These roles already existed when I took over the space, but they have certainly grown and changed over time, in particular with the opening of Millworks. More people and more money equals more serious thinking and more responsibility. We still run pretty lean – I honestly don’t know how other coworking spaces can afford to have so many staff on-site – but this combination really works for us. Having two women on the team is also really fantastic, as they catch some of my blind spots and help make me a better MD. If Bri or Cat tells me I need to engage with something or someone, I know that they’re doing it for the right reasons. Following their guidance has never led me astray.” “Leon is a very compassionate leader as well,” Brianna says. “The trust we have has been built because we feel empowered to be humans with lives, as well as being employees in this business.”
Works continues to evolve, as does the industry it sits in. “What people need out of a coworking space has changed a lot post-pandemic,” Leon says. “It used to be a bit more business focused, but there’s a stronger imperative on the social side now.” The team has grown and adapted in that time as well, he says. As they look to the future, the team is excited about the road ahead, and all are committed to investing themselves into the best future for Works.
“There are a lot of opportunities for Cat and me to be more involved in the future, and we talk about that a lot,” Brianna says. “One more site could mean another Community Ambassador role,” Leon says, “and with scale comes further opportunity to specialise in roles rather than all of us wearing so many hats. But I’d never want to not be involved every day. We are part of the brand and I would never want to step away and feel like I wasn’t contributing my bit. People often ask if I want to consider sites further afield from Christchurch, but for now my response remains the same: I want the ability to jump in the car and drive to all of our sites whenever I’m needed, and be weird with our residents in person,” he laughs.