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Name: Mark Lack
Title: Chief Operating Officer
Organisation: BinDawood Holding
A board-level Director / Manager experienced in major international, multi-regional, multi-cultural and multi-format Retail, Wholesale and FMCG companies.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
The most challenging thing I have found as a leader is slicing up a day into smaller and smaller chunks as the demands on your time become greater. I learned the ability to trust and delegate early on so that these demands didn’t end up overwhelming me as it would have been very easy to fall into the trap of trying to do everything oneself.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I could say it was pure talent, but in reality it was grit and determination. A lot of hard work, commitment and then the trust earned from senior managers to put me into a first leadership role. I was quite young when I first stepped into the “managers” shoes but becoming a leader has taken a lot longer time period. It’s relatively easy to become a “manager” there are lots of those roles out there, to become a leader though, it takes patience, understanding, empathy and decisiveness.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
My day is somewhat structured with some routine elements at the start of the day such as checking news and social feeds (from personal, industry, home country and current working country) to get a flavour of the day. Each day is different as each day has an amount of set routine (check the sales numbers, availability numbers etc) and then a mix of scheduled and ad-hoc meetings. Sometimes, to escape the office, I will also walk one of the stores floor as it gets rid of the cobwebs that can develop sitting at the desk. On the shop floor is where I can hear from customers, employees and see what’s happening with trends, what’s selling and what’s not.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
Two really. Listen to the team and trust your gut. They may seem at opposite ends of the spectrum but both play a part in the process of making a decision and it’s something I get reminded of every day. As a leader I have gained experience and wisdom (to make the informed/gut decisions) but at the same time I haven’t seen everything and my team or colleagues may have a better/new way of doing things
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance. As a young manager and after a particularly tough day, working abroad, far from home I “had an episode” with my line manager. Mostly it was frustration with a situation that was really out of my control that had been exacerbated by an external party. Reading the book made me think more and slow down a lot.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Listen, listen and listen. Your greatest skill, over time, will be your ability to listen to your team, your colleagues and your customers. Whilst it is said that “it’s lonely at the top” you should seek out opportunities to listen to everyone so that you can then turn those insights into actions for improvement.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
How your team will react and how far they will go to get something done. As a start up, we needed everyone to pitch in, to be there and go above and beyond. The team we started with of just 12 at central support office and 23 at the first store managed to open a store in less than one month after getting the final approval of the board to start. It was an amazing feat. This also led to us opening 8 stores in one year during the pandemic because everyone was able to trust each team members ability to get their part of the job done on time and to the standard required.