Paula Fray is the founder and MD of frayintermedia – a media company specialising in global multimedia, research, advocacy and training – and her husband, Des Latham, is its Head of Multimedia. They met in the early 1990s when he was a reporter for 702 radio, while she was working at Independent Media and soon to become the first female editor of The Saturday Star.
Fray says they got married, after being in a relationship for about eight weeks, “without establishing ground rules”. Today their relationship is based on a number of ground rules, which Fray also refers to as “life hacks”. This power couple happily share their life hacks with us.
SPACE TO THRIVE
Fray kicks off: “Within a relationship you have two individuals and then you have a couple. And you need to be able to respect individual space. There are some things which we do on our own and there are things we do as a couple. That was a conceptual agreement we made early on. It allows you to keep your own identity and continue to grow as a person. Des would compose and play music, I would study and so on.”
NOURISHING THE RELATIONSHIP
When they’re both in Jo’burg (the couple often travel the globe individually and together, for work and pleasure) they set time apart for meals. Fray says: “We have a strict rule to sit down for supper as a family. The space around the table becomes a sacred space where we actually hear each other.” Latham chimes in: “No cellphones, TVs or any other interruptions. If we get a business call we don’t take it. It’s a bubble of domestication that no-one can break.”
FUNKY DIVISION OF LABOUR
Latham says that when he joined frayintermedia in 2014 (Fray founded it in 2005), “we had a serious chat about the division of labour and, as MD, she’s the boss”. Surprisingly, they don’t spend that much time together in the workplace. Latham works with his multimedia team and trains multimedia, often outside of the office. They embrace their separate responsibilities that are clearly defined.
This life hack spills over to their home life. Latham loves to cook supper after work. “I’m quietly beating the hell of out of the pots and pans and she’s quietly changing the world, taking a conference call in the corner.”
A COUPLE THAT TRAVELS TOGETHER…
Latham reckons it’s beneficial if “you can travel together and experience things outside your comfort zone. It harmonises things in your relationship.” A lot of their work is outside of South Africa, in the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, Mena (the Middle East and North Africa region), Asia and South America. One current frayintermedia project is training women media leaders from Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt – travelling to the regions and also doing webinars from home.
IT’S MY TIME, OVER AND OUT
Latham refuses to talk shop after 7pm and also not over weekends. Obviously within reason – as the MD, Fray has responsibilities that often require urgent attention, some being contracts worth hundreds of thousands of rand. For Latham it’s “not a punishment rule, there’s no combative aspect to it”. Fray concurs: “We’re not in competition with each other.”
A PUBLIC COMPACT
Another life hack they swear by is never disparaging each other in public. Latham again: “If we’re working in tandem, it’s for the best and everyone around us is being advanced.” Fray explains: “It’s fine to disagree, but it doesn’t reflect on our relationship, especially not in the public sphere.”