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7 Questions with Mark Lacey
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7 Questions with Mark Lacey
Name: Mark Lacey
Current title: Vice President of Human Resources
Current Organisation: Save A Lot Food Stores
Mark Lacey serves as Vice President of Human Resources for Save A Lot Food Stores, where he uses his extensive leadership and organization development skills to create and define people-led strategies to meet varying business needs. Mark is passionate about setting change management direction in relation to talent while offering deep subject matter expertise to increase organizations’ performance and capacity to deliver results. Mark’s fervent drive for success has led him to hold roles as a visionary HR leader for multiple transformational companies, including Topaz Energy Ltd (now Circle K), Lidl Ireland, Lidl US, and Vodafone. Since joining Save A Lot in 2017, Mark has promptly built a cohesive and inclusive community of leaders while building a talent pipeline that aligns with hiring needs and ongoing business objectives.
Mark was the creator of many frontline transformative leadership development programs and initiatives for Lidl that were later recognized nationally. Lidl Ireland was awarded three awards by the Irish Institute of Training & Development at their annual National Training Awards, including an award for ‘Best L&D Initiative for a Large Organization’ and ‘Best Learning & Development Organization in Ireland’. At a national level, these awards not only showed the caliber of the learning initiatives that were created by Mark Lacey but also propelled Lidl’s reputation as an employer of choice who invested in their people.
Mark was also recognized as the US Retail HR Leader of the Year in 2019. Mark has proven himself as an international HR Leader by his ability to overhaul the HR organization at Save A Lot in a short time frame, clearly link people to the overall business performance strategy, and make considerable advances in the HR metrics and transformational goals for his organization.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
Leading people through times of change, navigating periods of uncertainty and keeping them connected to the overall goals or objectives of the organization
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
Hard work, perseverance, and discipline. I have a strong drive and motivation to succeed. I set myself goals, big and small, and achieve them through my own determination and desire to accomplish. I embrace the unknown, I learn on and off the job. I stay relevant with industry, current trends and competition and I see every challenge as an opportunity.
I have worked from a very young age and get satisfaction through helping people. I like to serve others and found myself working in large organizations that are service led. Within these organizations (McDonalds Ireland & Circle K) I was recognized and rewarded for my hard work and efforts. I was accepted, and found a 'happy home' where I could be myself, gain and master my skills and was afforded more and more responsibility.
The responsibility given, as a Crew Trainer in McDonalds, and then a Shift Lead allowed me, at an early age, to manage people. I found this was something I enjoyed and came naturally to me. Over time, I honed my leadership skills, worked up the corporate ladder and eventually worked my way into HR, and have delivered bottom line results, with and through people, for nearly 20 years.
3. How do you structure your workdays from waking up to going to sleep?
Planning, time, and self-management. I like to plan, and I like routines where possible. I stick to a schedule and am a creature of habit. I wake at the same time every morning. I catch up on the news, my plan for the day, and eat breakfast. I leave for the office, catch up and check in with my team and ensure we are aligned. I utilize technology to its fullest - calendars, schedules, planners, reminder and so on. My phone is my compass and I try to keep myself and my day disciplined - to be where I need to be, to do what I set out to do, and to accomplish what I set out to accomplish.
In the world of retail HR, that doesn't always play out as intended, and when that happens, I course correct, reschedule or plan accordingly. Most importantly, I try not to allow it to set my whole day out of sync.
I am pretty hands on, I like to be involved in what is going on, so I can keep up to speed, but also monitor, coach and mentor my team along the way.
I take time for coffee, lunch and social parts of my day at work. I set aside ‘Red Time’ at the end of the day, for those meetings that need follow up, my own admin or catch up sessions.
I journal and reflect which not only helps my mind but also my future planning, the plan for the next day etc.
I exercise at night before bed. This is not for everyone, but I have energy morning, noon, and night, as this does not affect my sleep pattern, as it is now part of my norm. As I said earlier, I like to plan, so my Peloton rides happen almost at the same time every night, as part of my daily schedule.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Remain true to yourself - authenticity is key. A question, a challenge, even an opposition to something, delivered with positive intent or a genuine curiosity or the offer of support or help, can make a big difference to the outcomes and, the future relationships.
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?
Essentialism : The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown.
In the book we learn that priority is a word that was only ever meant to be in singular form.
Essentialism is not about how to get more things done, it’s about how to get the right things done at the right time. That doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of it. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.
If you don’t prioritize your life someone else will.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
Invest in people. Open and transparent two-way communication flow. Encourage new ways of working or thinking. Allow for ideation and creativity - better, faster, stronger mindset of continuous improvement. See leadership as a skill everyone possesses and not just in 'leadership positions'. Build learning communities where people learn with, and through each other.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
It is not really a story but more of a lesson learned. I always remember that the tasks I do are not just tasks, they are responsibilities that I have , that could make a big difference to somebody's life.
For example - I could look at how many interviews have I done through two different lenses. I have completed X number of tasks, said the same things repeatedly etc. or, I could look at how lucky I am to be able to afford people jobs. Even first jobs for some people, which they will never forget and become stories they tell people in the future.