Part of the IT Leaders 100 - a list of the most influential IT leaders in the UK in 2023.
Mark is an entrepreneur and technologist working with firms of all sizes to ensure that technology is used creatively and effectively to support their strategy. He writes and speaks regularly about the use of technology, agile methodologies and digital working.
Mark was the technical co-founder of Reed.co.uk, the largest job site in the UK, where he served as technology director during its growth from four people to over 350. He then joined Accenture, took on a role as Group CTO at Blenheim Chalcot, and now works in a consultancy role.
How did you get into IT?
I was fortunate enough to fall in love with the possibilities of the internet while I was at university in the late 90s, which led me to be a hacky, self-taught HTML developer. I was then lucky enough to get a job working on Reed.co.uk, which was my first real job, and the beginning of an 18-year journey with Reed. I had an incredible amount of support and good fortune while at Reed, which gave me an experience in just about every part of product and tech, from UX research to data science, fortunately always surrounded by people more talented than I was.
How do you ensure diversity is taken into account in your IT recruitment?
There are a lot of tactics that should be included in the hiring process, but I'd like to start with some advice that I learned from the amazing diversity programmes, and leadership inside the Financial Times: it's important that diversity is represented all throughout the levels of seniority. People need to be able to see role models that reflect them at the top of the organisation, as well as around them - a D&I policy can't simply focus on hiring from bootcamps. You need senior leaders that represent your diversity goals as well.
To the tactical; make sure that your talent pipelines reach outside of the usual places that attract the same faces. Make sure that you are engaging with bootcamps, apprenticeship schemes and diversity-focused job sites, and also ensure that your existing teams are connecting within their own networks and communities.
During recruitment, it's important to use tactics like 'blinded' or anonymised CVs, striving for balanced shortlists and removing conventional bias like academic requirements.
But don't just focus on diversity. Inclusion is just as important. It's no use having a diverse workforce if the workplace is not welcoming and sensitive to different needs. Diversity also needs to include invisible and often forgotten characteristics.
Which technology are you currently most excited by?
I'll try to avoid LLMs as everyone will choose them, but I do enjoy having ChatGPT as a copilot. I was very impressed with AWS' Amplify Studio, which automagically translates Figma designs into React components, and I think we'll see a lot of growth (which will likely include LLMs) in how low code/no code and automation affect traditional low value tasks that developers still deal with day to day.
What would an outsider find the most surprising part of your job?
Most people think I fix printers for a living, so most of it. I'm often asked to 'fix' tech teams. More often than not, the tech and the tech team are fine, but there's a prioritisation and objective communication problem. Even if you're in tech, the most intriguing problems always come back to working with people.
What's your secret talent?
Avoiding karaoke bars.
What makes you laugh?
Jokes about bears.