Touching on ear-to-mouth ratio, getting over personal foibles and recruitment challenges, Mark Dale talks to BQ about his career and leading his business as UK MD of Palmer Hargreaves.
What is it the company does?
Palmer Hargreaves (PH) is an independently owned, full-service, integrated marketing communications agency, established over 30 years ago. Since then we’ve grown to nearly 200 people in our offices in the UK, Germany, Russia, China and Brazil. From our UK base in Leamington Spa, we work in around 60 countries. We’re really good at solving complex, global B2B problems. From strategy to content, creative and digital, we work for blue-chip international brands who are tackling some of the future’s biggest challenges and making a real difference.
We sum up what we do in two words: Complex. Solved.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
My role as UK MD is to support the PH ‘growth mindset’ and create an environment that supports curiosity and creativity, enabling our people – who we call PH’ers - to develop and deliver the best solutions for our clients. My role is to engage all members of the team so everyone understands our common goals and objectives.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
My career started in the brewing industry; it seemed a good idea to extend a pastime into a career but it didn’t suit me that well so I had to go and look for another job!
Instead, I started working in sales and marketing before moving into consultancy. I’ve always worked for products with wheels – motorbikes, cars, vans, trucks, tractors – if it has wheels, I’ve been involved in the sales and marketing of it!
More recently with PH, I have been involved in the expansion of the business into new markets including China and Brazil. I’m still working with wheels, but also with businesses involved in agriculture, technology, manufacturing and more.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
I look to football managers for examples of good leaders. If you research the Bobby Robson 11 commandments, that will provide an insight into the values I believe in and the qualities required to be a good leader.
I’ve been fortunate to have worked with some great managers and I borrow their experience and approach, then adapt it to my style of working. My team will be the judge of whether I’m successful or not.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
I’ve been in my current role of UK MD for almost six months and during that time we have achieved several new business wins. The challenge is to support the team with the increased workload and recruit the right people. It’s a good challenge to have in any business.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
What stress? I coach and manage a local under-16s football team - dealing with eighteen adolescent boys, now that is stressful!
To create my own headspace, I like to do practical things that distract me. Although I’m not very good at it, I will try and repair anything from lawnmowers to food mixers – there are a lot of half-repaired things at home!
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A cameraman for the BBC - in the days when television cameras were huge, like big Daleks. There was no family connection for wanting to do this, but that was always my answer when asked the question. I don’t think we ever fully grow up so maybe there’s still a chance to become a cameraman?
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
We are a group of people all trying to work together, we all have foibles – me especially. The secret is to get over it and focus on all the positive things we have in common rather than our differences. If we were all the same, life would be very dull.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
I want PH to be the agency that everyone one wants to work for; a company that attracts and retains the best people and provides opportunities to support clients that are making a positive impact on the world.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Remember why you have two ears and one mouth. Be aware of what is around you, the people and the environment and support everyone’s personal ambitions.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
Be flexible and adaptable. Things will happen that are outside of your direct control, don’t let these occasions knock you back. Look around you for advice, guidance and support – sometimes it can come from a direction that you weren’t expecting, but if you’re not looking for it you will never see it.
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