First and foremost Mark inspires enterprise innovation. His primary motivation is that moment when the “penny drops” and people realise they’ve been looking at things the wrong way,. The path to greater effectiveness shines brightly before them and off they go to greatness.
Mark started his career as a frontline aviator in the Royal Navy, subsequently flying instructor and finally Chief Flying Instructor. He learned a lot about innovation from seeing the aircraft he was to fly emerge in just 12 weeks during the Falklands Campaign compared with the more typical 6 years. Then in war exercises, how playing to your strengths and doing the unexpected can confer huge competitive advantage even if “outgunned” 5:1. But most of all developing capable, but under-confident aircrew into highly performing airborne leaders was a real highlight.
15 years on and starting a family, he left the Navy to complete an MBA majoring in corporate finance before joining ntl (now Virgin Media) to develop interactive TV. At the height of the dot.com boom and bust, looking back through the lens of “Lean Start-up” we made every mistake in the book. It was hugely valuable in highlighting the importance of really understanding customer unmet need, if something of a culture shock to see how the highly revered private sector stacked up against the under-rated public service.
Joining PA Consulting, he worked on a number of technology innovation and transformation projects with clients including the Cabinet Office, Orange, several financial institutions and investors and MoD Procurement. In his final years he ran the Technology Innovation Unit, helping clients make sense of which emerging technologies they should care about. He also won a Chairman’s commendation for services to staff development.
Moving to Dunedin was a huge change, but with no jobs that suited his skills, he started a consulting business and taught at Otago Business School. Bringing Dunedin its first Start-up weekend and social venture accelerator. The business grew to 6 figure income in just 8 months (Beginners luck?) and it was a huge wrench to leave. But 6 weeks of Pacific island-hopping and exploring South America was some compensation.
Back in the UK he had developed a taste for owning a business and has resisted being employed ever since. What started in New Zealand morphed in to agileering Ltd, a coaching and consulting firm that helps ambitious technical and service businesses to overcome growth barriers by reimagining their business model. Since leaving corporate life he has worked with over 4000 early stage businesses on 4 continents with clients ranging from individual businesses through government growth agencies and the University of Bristol (2019 best enterprise team in HE) winning Thames Valley Mentor of the Yer in 2015.
Completing an executive coaching course fresh back from New Zealand, he was short of a coaching client so volunteered with Grow Movement to coach Douglas in Rwanda over Skype. One thing led to another and he became Chairman of Grow Movement partnering on £1M International research project on the efficacy of entrepreneurship interventions in Uganda. It found that the treatment group typically increased sales by 25% through business model innovation, compared with the control group.
Entrepreneurship is a fabulous tool for social inclusion and the experience with 5 different clients in Africa showed me that you don’t need expensive resources and education to be successful, but you do need to follow a proper process with dedication and resilience. That process has now been codified into Phoenix, a programme that has enjoyed some great success with ex-offenders and the long-term unemployed. Education is only part of the transformation, the real power comes from helping empower the dis-advantaged to take control of their destiny. Grow Inspires is my social venture for delivering Phoenix and other entrepreneurship interventions to bring inclusion to the socially excluded.
I joined the Entrepreneurs Network to bring evidence of what really works in front of policy makers along with the fruits of my research into best practice with University of Bristol.