Please meet...

10 July 2023

Mark Yeeles, VP UK & Ireland, Schneider Electric

Which law would you most like to change and why?
One of the key areas I feel we could improve is to better educate our children about the power of working collaboratively and as part of a team.

Repivoting the educational system to teach children and young people vital skills to help them better prepare for all areas of work and help them recognise the valuable contributions that people from different backgrounds, and with different skill sets, can bring when seeking to achieve a specific goal or outcome. This is something I believe could lead to many tangible and positive outcomes for the country.

What was your big career break?
My real career break was deciding to take the plunge into the commercial world of sales. Until my mid-20s I was an engineer and technologist by trade, and then I decided to go into sales, which was from a career perspective the best decision I’ve ever made. My background in engineering and technology has also played a pivotal role in my effectiveness to understand customer challenges and a greater ability to empathise with customers.

In terms of a pivotal point in my career, however, this came when I joined Rockwell Automation as an account manager, and ever since, my career has fortunately been on a successful trajectory.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Top Gun was one of the most influential films of my teens, so I wanted to be a fighter pilot!

Fortunately, my dad recognised that I had a bit of interest in toys like electronic building kits, so he fostered this and when I was old enough took me to a local company’s open evening – Perkins Engines (a partner of Caterpillar group) which gave me my first taste of the engineering and working world. After that, I was hooked, and my passion for industrial software and people emerged.

If you could dine with any famous person, past or present, who would you choose and why?
Well, I always think a dinner party for four would be a bit more fun.

First, I’d invite, Barack Obama to dine with me. I’d love to spend some time with that man! The way he handled himself throughout his tenure was quite phenomenal and he’s a shining example of a truly inspirational leader. He also seems a genuinely nice guy with excellent values, which you can see through his relationship with his daughters and wife. It’d be fascinating to discuss the challenges he endured during his time in office, and how he convinced people to both trust his decisions and stick with a journey based on hope.

Second, I’d invite Winston Churchill and for similar reasons. I’d like to explore how he remained calm and rallied a team together when the country was under such serious pressure during various stages of the war.

Last but certainly not least, I’d like George Best to join us. As a footballer, he is one of the best who has ever played the game, he lived life to the full and was a character both on and off the pitch. I imagine he could take us on a decent night out after all those in-depth chats and would add an interesting dynamic to the table.

What’s the greatest technological advancement in your lifetime?
The iPhone – there’s no doubt that its innovation has changed the way in which we work, live, and interact as humans, fundamentally enabling people to connect better. It’s also led to a plethora of technological innovations that have been created directly off the back of the technology, both in terms of hardware and software.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
I’ll try to narrow it down to three:

First, my parents always told me, just try your best and the outcome will be the outcome. That gave me the confidence to try new things and when I felt out of depth, ask what’s the worst that can happen?

Second, a former leader once told me that it’s so important to recognise that people within your team will always operate in different ways to you, so expect the unexpected all the time. When given an opportunity, most people will surprise you (pleasantly) and step-up to the plate.

Third, be clear about what you stand for and what you believe in - and ultimately be your authentic self. This is essential in any leadership role and will allow you to succeed.

If you had to work in a different industry, which would you choose?
After moving from the industrial sector into data centres, you could say I’ve just made the leap.

However, I’m fascinated by people and would love to work in the media - primarily to better understand insights into sporting personalities and the psychology behind their profession.

From a technology perspective, I’d also be interested in exploring new ways to encourage young people into our industry, as it really is such an exciting place to be! We are at the leading edge of technological innovation, which is rapidly changing everything about the way we live and work, so it’s important that we democratise the sector to open up new opportunities for a more diverse workforce and attract more people from different backgrounds.