Gemma Manning: A Visionary Leader and Serial Entrepreneur Inspiring Youths

In this era of rapid development, female empowerment has become the axiom with women working fearlessly in all territories and creating benchmarks in every sphere. Women are also participating in economic life across various sectors, building stronger economies, achieving international goals for overall development and sustainability. Gemma Manning, Founder of Manning &Co. and Gemstar, has become the epitome of female empowerment. She is an accomplished businesswoman recognized at the highest level by world leaders including Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson. Prior to starting her own business, Gemma built a career in a corporate role involving marketing and communication. Typically, marketing agencies charged astronomical fees to provide value, while lacking transparency. The market was limited and marketing agencies only focused on briefs provided by the clients rather than coming up with new ideas. “At the same time, on a personal front, when I had my first child, my male boss told me that I couldn’t possibly be a new mother and hold down a demanding corporate job. This led me to start my own business,” shares Gemma. The female entrepreneur has created two businesses with international reach in traditionally male-dominated industries.

Gemma Manning

Manning & Co.: Award-Winning Strategic Marketing Farm

Gemma founded Manning & Co. out of adversity. The lack of support from her boss, combined with the significant pain points in the marketing consulting industry, led to the inception of the company. Manning & Co. is a hybrid of McKinsey & Co. and Ogilvy. As a professional services firm, Manning & Co. has bridged the marketing consulting industry gap and injected a high level of business strategy into the mix, extending the current typical industry offering. “Manning & Co. first filled the void in my home market of Australia, then reached out into Asia, the US, and the UK. This is why Manning & Co. is such a respected and well-established business even after 13 years,” asserts Gemma.

Headquartered in Sydney and Singapore, Manning & Co. is a global integrated marketing, branding, and PR company that helps businesses grow with their integrated end-to-end marketing solutions. The team offers new ideas, with best practice recommendations and strategic thinking, and complete execution capability, ensuring a high level of transparency of results for its clients.

Gemma says, “We also stand by our tagline of ‘measurable marketing management’. We measure what we do, demonstrate results to our clients, communicate clearly, and keep ourselves ahead of the curve so that we are always relevant.”

Manning & Co. punches above its weight and has been recognized as an attractive alternative to the bigger marketing and PR firms, but with much more grunt and substance than smaller consultancies or individual consultants.

From raising the standard of marketing in the markets it operates in, to helping US and UK corporations develop quality global marketing strategies with local market relevancy, Manning & Co. is transforming the sector.

On the other hand, its sister company Gemstar offers an inclusive entrepreneurship program, YoungGems™, designed to empower vulnerable communities through entrepreneurship. Through Gemstar, they have also launched a Diploma in Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Singapore and introduced the YoungGems™ program to Australia’s deaf and hard of hearing community.  

Attributes of a Leader

Gemma is an exemplary female entrepreneur who has achieved success internationally in the face of adversity. She has grown her business across borders as a single mother, and recent accolades demonstrate that she has achieved success. As an individual and a business leader, Gemma believes that authenticity and integrity is the key to success. She believes that every leader should be able to think fast, adapt and move quickly to cope with turbulent times; a leader also needs determination and grit to weather difficult times. A leader should have the ability to help organizations constantly change with times, but also be able to share strength and conviction with the team, to forge ahead together both in good and bad times.

“To keep Manning & Co. — as well as sister company Gemstar — ahead of the curve, I have had to be agile and navigate rapidly changing market circumstances, ensuring that the brands are always relevant to our clients. I feel that my ability to execute my vision with precision and ethics at the core is central to the business’s sustainable success,” shares Gemma. “Manning & Co. continues its strong growth trajectory because of an above-and-beyond ethos. As the brand’s founder, I maintain high standards and expectations of not only myself but also the brands and my team.”

While the beginnings of the business were in Australia, today the company has a very strong Singapore market base. It also serves clients in the US and Europe and has a clientele featuring impressive names including one of Singapore’s most iconic brands, DBS. Further, the Singapore businesses have doubled revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic and have demonstrated that they are COVID-resilient.

The Gemstar business has grown its footprint too, and its entrepreneurship program is proving to be another testament to Gemma’s leadership. She has also just launched her first book and memoir, ‘About This Girl’, designed to inspire young people to follow their passion and purpose.

Envisioning Success

During the pandemic, Gemma realized that companies need Manning & Co. more than ever. The company plans to continue growing across key international markets, including the US. Gemma intends to digitally scale the inclusive entrepreneurship program YoungGems™ to empower communities across the globe. She also aims to launch Gemstar in other international markets, as the gateway for doing business in Asia.

“And what I am most excited about is getting my social impact venture, Light Years, off the ground this year — a program designed to help vulnerable women,” concludes Gemma.