Meet the speakers at this year’s Continuity Insights Management Conference, then click here to learn more about the 2023 event.
How did your earlier career choices lead you to where you are now?
Earliest positions were in IT from the programmer ranks up to global systems director role for Fortune 100. In a number of system roles I had responsibility for Disaster Recovery which was my first foray into Sungard and Business Continuity. I moved away from core IT into a global IT Audit function which started a natural progression to risk and recovery roles within Gillette, Fidelity and Income Research + Management.
What career mistake has given you the biggest lesson?
I had the opportunity to launch an internal sales function for the firm I worked for. I developed a business plan, gained approval and started this effort within the firm. What I did not do was speak to folks who were in telesales to get their perspective. They had great insight that I could have used but were excluded from the decision-making process. The effort failed miserably as it probably should not have been started in the first place.
What is the biggest risk that you’ve taken?
Firm I worked for had an Export Shipping function of 2 people. The manager gave notice and left and the number 2 person was going out on maternity leave, but leaving permanently. My boss, the head of Sales Operations, had a serious problem. Export shipments had outright stopped. In discussion around options I asked who in the firm understood the function details and he replied “No one” to which I replied “Give it to me”. My boss asked me what I knew about it and I said “nothing, but I am no worse off than anyone else.” I was running customer service and thought this would be a new area to learn. I got in over my head as I had no clue about what Export licensing meant, how to manage Letters of Credit, etc. I quickly brought in freight forwarders to educate me on the issues and started shipping products around the world. Export shipments that quarter were the highest ever (admittedly partially due to the backlog of what was not shipped) and the firm flourished.
What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
As an IT person was was planning on getting my MBA in IT. My boss told me that I was shortsighted and rather than refine that specific skill in IT that I already had I would be better off broadening my education. He recommended an MBA in Finance, saying “If you know the numbers you know the business”. This has served me very well as I have always understood the business aspects of where I have worked. I pride myself as being able to rip into a Balance Sheet or Income Statement as well as anyone, having NEVER held a Finance position.
What advice would you give to your younger self at the start of your career?
Learn, learn, learn. Don’t ever stop taking on new challenges in areas you do not know or do not yet understand. No learning is worthless and those skills learned are both valuable in and of themselves but also leverageable in other areas that you have not even seen nor considered.
To learn more about Mark’s session and to view the full conference agenda, click here.