Working Geek: How OpenMarket CEO Jonathan Morgan gets fresh perspectives from employees

Press release – May 10, 2018

By GeekWire

Jonathan Morgan, CEO of OpenMarket. (OpenMarket Photo)

As the recently appointed CEO of Seattle’s OpenMarket, Jonathan Morgan travels the globe for all kinds of high-level, big-deal meetings to advance his company, which provides mobile messaging tools that companies use to reach their customers.

But perhaps the “most important hour of the week” is his 10 a.m. slot on Fridays. That’s when Morgan sits down with 10 randomly selected employees from the 300-person company for an informal round-table discussion. They come from all levels in the organization as well as from OpenMarket’s offices across four continents, joining by video conference or in person if Morgan is onsite.

Sometimes the conversations are personal, about who the people are and how they came to OpenMarket. Sometimes it’s specific to work, calling out issues and blind spots that Morgan isn’t aware of.

“I’m always interested to hear their ideas and feedback,” Morgan said. “They are literally saying, ‘What about this? What about that?’ Making it low pressure and not too formal, it’s actually better.”

Morgan officially took the role of CEO last month, and has been with OpenMarket for seven years. He moved to the headquarters office last year from Sydney, Australia.

“Seattle and the Pacific Northwest are like a secret part of America. It’s not the first place that people mention, but it’s an incredible place. Every time you turn around a corner, there’s a mountain in the distance,” Morgan said. But he does admit to missing Sydney’s sun. “In the depths of winter [Seattle] is more like Britain.”

Despite the sometimes gray days, Morgan is eager to continue growing OpenMarket. Currently their customers tend to be more sophisticated companies and those with IT expertise. They’d like expand their reach to “everyone in between.”

“It’s about spreading the word so more companies can benefit,” he said, “and widening our product offering.”

We caught up with Morgan for this installment of Working Geek, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.

Current location: “My office, in Seattle.”

Computer types: “Lenovo ThinkPad and Asus Chromebook”

Mobile devices: “iPhone 8”

Favorite apps, cloud services and software tools: “OneDrive, Glympse and Path”

Jonathan Morgan, CEO of OpenMarket, works at a standing desk in his Seattle office overlooking Puget Sound. (OpenMarket Photo)

Describe your workspace. Why does it work for you? “I am lucky enough to have quite a big office with views of the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains. I have a stand-up desk in one corner facing the door so I can smile at anyone trying to get my attention. I also have a large round table for in-person meetings, or in a team setting while presenting on a screen. I also have a couch in the corner, which is nice place for thinking or taking calls.”

Your best advice for managing everyday work and life? “Aim for harmony. Sometimes there’s a lot of work, sometimes a lot of life. Try to aim for a harmony between the two.”

Your preferred social network? How do you use it for business/work? “LinkedIn. I like the news feed.”

Current number of unanswered emails in your inbox? “The four emails I have received in the last three hours that can’t be immediately deleted.”

Number of appointments/meetings on your calendar this week? “33”

How do you run meetings? “It depends on the meeting. I like to be clear whether I am chairing or listening. If I am chairing, I like to state the intent at the start, and be clear about the steps coming up and how the meeting fits into that timeline to give attendees proper context. I tend to listen a lot for the majority of the meeting, and then try and sum up what I am hearing towards the end.”

OpenMarket CEO Jonathan Morgan takes a break with his kids. (Photo courtesy of Jonathan Morgan)

Everyday work uniform? “Jeans, shirt and some sort of outer layer to keep me warm!”

How do you make time for family? “I get home around 6:30 p.m. and read my two children their bedtime stories. I leave weekends free for family time.”

Best stress reliever? How do you unplug? “Listening to music and exercising.”

What are you listening to? “Pink Floyd”

Daily reads? Favorite sites and newsletters? Business Insider, LinkedIn, BBC News

Book on your nightstand (or e-reader)? “I read the news often before bed on my iPad. I tend to do more audiobooks as I drive to and from work and get stuck on Interstate-90 with everyone else.”

Night owl or early riser? “I usually wake up at 5:30 a.m. and do some exercise, and tend to be asleep by 9:30 p.m.”

Where do you get your best ideas? “Doing exercise.”

Whose work style would you want to learn more about or emulate? “I’d be interested to understand Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s style more, and then decide whether I’d want to emulate it.”