A BIT ABOUT – meetingsclub
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You could describe Mark’s career as EVENTFUL. From managing a travel agency and inspecting hotels through to being a key member of the Live Group Plc who became the leading provider of event management services to HM Government. Throw in a stint of working with the UK’s oldest Schools’ Tour Operator and developing new business sales for a major hotel/venue group and you can see this proud Yorkshireman loves the service industry. Away from the world of work, Mark likes the sound of his own voice and can often be found behind a microphone as an MC or Charity Auctioneer – a throw–back to his first love, local Radio. Find out more about this gin loving Middlesbrough supporter who wants to learn to fly fish.
Why did you choose to get into the hospitality/service industry?
I fell in to it really. I wanted initially to be a journalist but failed the entrance exam! Plan B was travel, I was good at Geography and loved the idea of exploring. At the age of 6, I travelled on a train by myself from London Kings Cross to Darlington and thought it was no big deal. After studying Business Studies with Travel and Tourism at New College Durham I was lucky enough to become the youngest ever Branch Manager of National Travelworld, an ABTA travel agency. I always wanted to deliver great service to my clients and that same ethos still holds true today.
Who has inspired you most in your career?
A couple of people. Keith Pope who was the Chief Executive of Consort Hotels (later Best Western UK) was a superb people manager. He treated his senior team individually and recognised that everybody needs to be managed differently to reflect their personality. We’re still good friends 30 years later even though he still smokes Villiger Cigars! The other inspirational individual was Jonathan Lewis of the Live Group. To this day I have never met such a creative sales genius who was a master at the high-level pitch.
If you could work anywhere in the world where would it be?
I’m working in it. YORKSHIRE. After 25+ years in the south it is great to return home to my North Yorkshire Roots. If I was pushed and had to name an overseas destination it would be New Zealand. When I went a few years ago it reminded me very much of England in the 1960s (not that I can remember that far back) a simply beautiful country with “big skies” – the people are pretty friendly too.
What has been your most embarrassing moment?
How long have you got? I seem to embarrass my long-suffering wife all the time by the things I say and my off the wall antics. However, I’m always embarrassed to find that when I am talking to anybody from another country, I always seem to end up speaking with a strange Russian accent, irrespective of the country they are from.
What piece of advice would you give to your teenage self?
I’ve three pieces of advice:
- That you don’t have to be an academic to succeed in life – identify what you like or are good at doing, what ever that is and follow your passion/dream
- Do it now whilst you can. Life goes so quickly and if you see an opportunity or want to knock something of your bucket list, go for it before it is to late
- Don’t take life too seriously. When it looks black out there, have the courage to know that things will turn out ok in the end.
What three items would you bring to a dessert island?
- A radio so that I can listen to Test Match Special
- A paper and pen or better still a laptop so I can record my experiences
- An unlimited supply of gin and tonic so that each night as the sun went down, I could sit, drink and marvel at the beauty
What did you do last weekend?
I enjoyed meeting up with my oldest friend Ian. We’ve known each other for over 40 years, and he shares my love of gin! We must be good friends too as he let me drink his own personal bottle of Masham Gin which he’d earlier made using 10 different botanicals. You could really taste the Masala
What is your favourite place to travel to?
I love India and having spent close to a couple of months there on two separate trips. I can honestly say that the people are some of the friendliest in the World. They share my passion for cricket and there’s nothing better than playing a game with a group of local street kids. Add in to the mix wonderful food, bright colours, noise and amazing smells and you have a heady cocktail of life experiences.
Is there anything on your bucket list that you haven’t yet done?
I’d like to learn to fly fish. There can’t surely be anything better than standing in the middle of the River Nidd or Ure amongst all the beauty of the Yorkshire Dales, with the chance to catch a lovely Brown Trout for tea.
What is your favourite APP?
BBC News and Sport. I like to know what is going on in this mad world and always follow the roller-coaster exploits of my football team Middlesbrough – which is not always good news when they lose…
What is your favourite food?
Sushi, duck and very, very hot curry.
Do you binge watch and if so, what do you watch?
I have just started to binge watch more. I’d missed a few of the initial episodes of the BBC Blockbuster The Bodyguard and it was good to catch up and then be able to take part in conversations with friends as I knew what the storyline was.