In our latest 60 Second interview we speak to Mark Dow, the new head of HR at The Mortgage Lender and learn that he likes sharing ‘Dad jokes’, he questions knee-jerk regulation, he would generously give a Lottery win away and a famous remark from Arnie keeps him focused…and no, it’s not ‘I’ll be back’.
Q. What’s your role at The Mortgage Lender?
A. To build and develop HR for the business with role responsibilities for HR, learning and development, health and safety and shared office support.
It’s a newly created role, so my main deliverables are to ensure HR and talent management strategies are effective.
Q. Describe yourself in three words?
A. As a person: charismatic, personable, supportive
In business: influential, engaging, driven
Q. What’s your biggest CV achievement to date?
A. Creating and successfully delivering the HR and IT during the wind down strategies of Airdrie Savings Bank. While it was a sad decision the Bank needed to make, I walked away proud in the knowledge that I did the best I could for the bank’s staff and customers.
Q. What is the best thing about your role at The Mortgage Lender?
A. Starting from a relatively blank HR page within a progressive company employing great people who are committed to challenging the market and its thinking.
Q. Who is the person you think has had the greatest impact on the mortgage industry during your career, and why?
A. I think I’d have to agree with what Laura Sneddon, TML key account manager for the South, said in her 60 seconds. Martin Lewis raised consumer awareness and chipped away at unconscious incompetence. Whilst this makes it an ever-competitive market, it’s now a market where TML as an entrepreneurial business can really get in there and shake things up.
Q. If you could change one thing in the industry, what would it be and why?
A. Unnecessary or overly complex regulation. Financial services do require robust frameworks to protect the customer and avoid what we saw in 2007/2008, but the sheer volume, and the fact it seems to always be changing without always an obvious benefit, sometimes seems too much. I sometimes wonder if changing regulation has been a sound thought out process or a reactive action to a situation likely still feeding through from 2007/2008.
Q. Who’s the person that’s had the greatest influence on your career, and why?
A. My Dad. A former director at Tate & Lyle, he taught me commitment, humility, tenacity, professionalism, drive (personal, professional and for the business), a no BS approach, and that how you join a company is just as important as how you leave it.
Q. What do you think is The Mortgage Lender’s greatest strength?
A. Our people – I know it may be thought of as a twee and common response, but I genuinely see the drive, commitment and passion of our staff in maintaining and pushing the boundaries of excellence. This isn’t a place for mediocre or bland.
Q. What five items couldn’t you live without?
A. iPad pro, iPod, gym gear, bike, and shorts.
Q. What are the most important attributes of a head of HR?
A. To understand their businesses priorities and organisational strategy and be able to translate these into HR initiatives for success.
And, to deliver a professional, partnering, transformative HR service that is seen to add value.
Q. If you won £10 million tomorrow, what would you do with it?
A. Give away enough to make sure my family and friends never want for anything.
Q. What’s your guilty pleasure?
A. Telling poor ‘dad jokes’ and playing pranks.
Here’s one: “Why can’t you use beef stew as a password? It’s not stroganoff…”
Q. Biggest compliment you’ve ever received from a customer?
A. Thank you for helping me and getting me to a place where I feel confident and able to do it without you.
Q. What’s the most surprising part of your role?
A. I think (and hope) that I’m too long in the tooth within HR to be surprised anymore.
Q. Is there a sector of the mortgage market that you think is really untapped?
A. Now, that may be giving away our strategy – watch the TML space.
Q. What’s your superhero power…
A. I’d like a self-healing body – after years of playing rugby and American football, practicing martial arts, and high impact training – I need it.
Q. Final thought…
A. “Be hungry for success, hungry to make your mark, hungry to be seen and to be heard and to have an effect. And as you move up and become successful, make sure to also be hungry for helping others.” (Arnold Schwarzenegger)