Anna Morgan, 1973-2013

Anna Morgan, 1973-2013

A Tribute to Anna Morgan, Director of the TBR Observatory

In August 2013 our longstanding colleague and friend, Anna Hale (nee Morgan) died after a short illness and at the young age of 41.  Anna made a huge contribution to TBR during her career, but she was also a key member of our tight-knit team.  

She was larger than life, always the first to throw herself into social events and made a huge contribution to TBR at both a professional and personal level.
This page is dedicated to her memory and her contribution to both TBR as a business and our personal lives as a team.
Anna joined TBR in 1996 to take up a permanent post, having joined us in 1994 for a six month work placement.  She was studying Management and Mathematics at Brunel University and the placement was arranged between her course leader, Gerald Goodall, and TBR’s co-founder, Colin Gallagher.
We enjoyed having Anna at TBR during her work placement.  We were a very small team at the time, three full time staff and two part time directors, so we all benefitted from an additional colleague and one with such an outgoing and fun personality.   Anna was born in Newcastle so joining us was a return to her roots.  She made a big impact and we missed her when she returned to her course.
Anna graduated in 1996 with first class honours and TBR offered her a job.  TBR was in competition with other options that Anna was considering.  Of course, that would be the case for someone with Anna’s talent.  However, she chose TBR and remained with the company until her premature death, providing seventeen years’ valuable service in all.  Anna’s role blossomed from the beginning.
She was motivated to join TBR and to develop her career with us by her love for the statistics and the subject matter, for the ideas that they stimulated in her, through her determination to resolve some of the ongoing challenges that the business faced and the vision she had for the company.  
She was also motivated by the heartfelt need to do her best for others and she had an incredibly strong commitment to her colleagues.
It wasn’t long after joining that Anna was working on high profile projects for key clients in England and Scotland, some of whom we count as friends and close colleagues to this day.  Her prime focus was developing and exploiting TBR’s own analytical dataset of business performance, which we now call TCR.  She showed a maturity and command of the subject which was beyond her years.  She also applied her knowledge and skills to a wide range of problems to find solutions.  
She demonstrated early on that she wasn’t interested in petty politics, she wouldn’t be messed around, and she knew how to stand up for herself and for what she thought was the right and – importantly – what she considered to be sound and robust.
Anna’s contribution over her career is impossible to overstate.  She has been responsible for some of the most important achievements the company has made and has helped transform the business and team into what it is today.  Much of what is good in TBR had Anna’s hand behind it.
On a personal level, Anna was an energetic, sparkling person.  When she was in the room, she was hard to ignore or overlook.  She had an enviable ability to combine her considerable intellect with an easy-going nature that was as disarming as it was impressive.  She was a joy to be around and all TBR staff felt and feel privileged to have been able to spend so much time working with Anna over the years.  
We also know that these sentiments were shared by many other colleagues, clients and associates of the company.  
When we announced the tragic news of Anna’s death, we received many messages of condolence and support from friends and colleagues. Comments about Anna included; 
  • Her skills and friendly approach will be sadly missed by the wider research community…
  • She was unfailingly cheerful and helpful and very passionate about her work…
  • Anna was such a bright, infectiously curious and enthusiastic person…
  • She evinced so much energy and enthusiasm…
  • Unforgettable, even on short acquaintance…
If there was one comment, however, which captured Anna’s spirit as well as her dogged determination and energy to fight for her convictions, it is the following;
  • A lovely woman, so direct and full of energy.  I was greatly strengthened by working – and fighting – with Anna, and owe her a lot.  When we weren’t annoying the hell out of each other we were good friends. 
All at TBR would like to thank everyone for their kind words and sentiments, expressed shortly after her death and regularly since.  
Over the seventeen years that Anna worked for TBR, she achieved innumerable things; developing new approaches to research challenges, developing datasets and ways to analyse and extract meaningful insight from them, delivering challenging projects, establishing new and nurturing existing client relationships.  Whilst there are too many to list individually, the following indicate the valuable results of Anna’s work over the years;
  • Working with technical partners, designing and delivering a new database architecture for TCR, as well as routines for data update, review and validation.
  • Learning and working with SQL database languages to support her work with TCR.
  • Designing new analytical approaches, such as the TBR Retail Variety Index.
  • Building and developing our TBR Observatory team, recruiting and nurturing their talents.Delivering complex, data-driven research projects such as the mapping of the North West’s creative industries, components of employment change for UK government, measuring the role of new firm starts for Scottish Enterprise or mapping the economic impact of Heritage Crafts for UK government.
Lastly, and in summary, it seems appropriate to dwell on three facets of Anna’s personality which really drove her attitude to work and underpinned the contribution she made.
The first is Care.  Anna took great pride and care in her work, in the company she was helping to build and in the development of people around her.  She cared that things should be done well and accurately. Often this came at the cost of her own time, working late or long to fix things that she simply couldn’t abide being wrong.  She also cared a huge amount for the people around her and for their wellbeing.  She was always very quick to consider the human implications of the decisions the company made.
The second is Commitment.  She was incredibly committed to work, to the ideas she and others created, to the vision she had for the company and – perhaps most important for Anna - the people that were around her.
The third is Determination.  Anna was exceptionally determined and this, combined with her commitment and intellect, made her formidable.  She was determined to get things right, to solve problems and to deliver what she thought her clients, the company and her colleagues needed.  
These traits were epitomised by Anna’s attitude to her illness and to work over what ultimately became the last few months of her life.  This included holding, at her insistence, her final TBR board meeting at the Marie Curie Hospice in Newcastle just a few days before she died.  Anna continued to want to be useful and to fulfil her responsibilities and commitments.  She was determined not to let any circumstances get in the way.  And she cared sufficiently for all of us to carry on as normal and thereby protect us from the difficult and upsetting reality of what she was going through.
Anna was, ultimately, hugely successful and has left a lasting legacy at TBR.  We miss her terribly and will continue to do so, but we take comfort in the fact that she has left us in a better position and that this legacy will truly live on in the most fundamental things that we do, focus on and achieve.

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