A Q&A with Mark Farthing, our new head of operations

Mark Farthing

In March we were so pleased to welcome a new addition to the Real Group team: Mark Farthing. As our new head of operations, Mark will be overseeing and managing many different elements of the business, to ensure that we continue to provide a consistently efficient and outstanding experience for our delegates as we grow. We spoke to Mark about his professional background and the effect he hopes his new role will have on the company.

What were you doing in your previous role, before joining Real Group?

‘Before joining Real Group, I was employed as a master scheduler at a company called Cummins. I worked in a few different roles during my seven years at the company, but that was what I was doing most recently. The role involved taking orders and then planning all of the production for the plant, on the basis of what the best plan would be for the lines to actually build the product.’

What is your background in terms of previous employment and education?

‘My role at Cummins has really been the central point of my career so far – which was based in manufacturing – but my degree was actually based in psychology and music technology. There wasn’t a particularly clear path for me in those subjects at the time, so I started to build a career in management: managing people, production lines, and professional staff as well, and also planning large portfolios of work.’

What particularly attracted you to the role within Real Group?

‘I’m really passionate about managing people and helping them to develop, it’s something that I really enjoy. As well as that, the role is very local to me, and Real Group is of course based in the field of psychology, which was a real draw – it’s very exciting to be part of that world again. I didn’t think that I would get the opportunity to be part of it because I didn’t pursue any postgraduate study.’

What is the main purpose of your role?

‘My role is still very new and will develop more over time, but I will mainly be managing the team and bringing an operational standpoint to the role. So, for example, I will be looking at data analysis, process improvements, mapping out our processes in the department, looking at our budgets and hourly costs – all things that I have experience of, which are quite important for us to know. I want to make sure that people are given the opportunity to progress in the way that they would like to and that they can see a clear path to the next stage of their development. It’s important that people have a vision of how they would like to progress because I believe that is how you get bigger and grow as a business.

‘I think it’s a very exciting time to be part of a business like Real Group, as we are in a massive period of growth in which the company is becoming a real, professional entity. We have to be very careful operationally as we move from looking after hundreds of delegates, to thousands. That is what I believe my role will be based around largely – looking at whether we need to increase our resources to facilitate that kind of growth. I haven’t been here very long so I have a lot to learn, but it’s a really good challenge to have.’

What have you particularly enjoyed since joining the company?

‘So far I have really enjoyed meeting and getting to know the team. Everyone I have spoken to has been so welcoming and nice and they are all really helping me to learn – so I feel like I have hit the ground running. It’s nice to work with people who have such a historical insight into the company, are open and willing to learn, and help others to learn. Some members of the team used to do multiple roles and as the company gets bigger that isn’t really viable anymore. My role – as I see it – is to ensure staff members take ownership of what is theirs, with a broader view of the business, and that is quite a fine balance to strike with people. It’s a good challenge to have, that we are looking at growth.’

Is there anything you are particularly looking forward to within your role at Real Group? Perhaps something you are planning on implementing or launching?

‘I am still very new to the role of course, but I am working on analysing course feedback at the moment which is very exciting; I really want to use that to its full potential. We know that we are already doing a great job, but it is important to calibrate yourself with that feedback constantly, so that we know how we are seen by our customers. We are making a lot of changes within the organisation and looking at those changes from an internal point of view, so we must make sure that we hear the customer’s voice and understand how they see things. We also have a lot of IT projects underway, which I am working to prioritise and make sure that we focus our efforts appropriately, as those projects affect marketing, operations, and our delegates.’

What are your interests outside of work?

‘I play saxophone in a band and we regularly play shows on weekends. I also go running every day and I play cricket as much as I can in the summer.’

What do you think?


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