Mark Wales

On Application
Australia - Vic

Mark Wales grew up in the red dirt of West Australian mining towns in the Pilbara. After deciding he wanted to join the SAS in high school, Mark embarked on a career in the Australian military that would eventually lead him to the battlefields of Afghanistan. As a Troop Commander in charge of 30 elite soldiers, Mark’s role was to lead combat missions against senior enemy commanders, deep behind enemy lines. Through this unique and harsh environment, Mark developed his skills in leadership, teamwork and high performance.

Like many in his situation, Mark battled depression and stress disorders after warfighting in Afghanistan. He tackled recovery with the same intensity he applied to Special Ops training. He rigorously researched the fundamentals of neurobiological science and the benefit of skill development. This approach underpinned a strong recovery, and drove personal growth far beyond his previous abilities.

Mark’s successful recovery and growth led him to embark on a high profile career in business. With four attempts of the GMAT, he was accepted into an Ivy League college in the U.S.A, and after graduation he joined McKinsey & Company, a respected consulting outfit also known as ‘The Firm’. He founded a fashion startup Kill_Kaptur, a tough-luxury ecommerce brand. He was a competitor in Australian Survivor 2017, the world’s #1 reality TV show.

An avid surfer, boxer, and cook, Mark stays active and keeps his experiences as varied as possible. He believes that past experience should never be a limitation to embarking and excelling in something new.

Mark loves to reveal the common threads that run through human competition in all arenas, and the importance of a growth-mindset to overcoming mental illness and drive success in future endeavours.

Speaking topics

Battlefield: Leadership in uncertainty

Focused on skills and mindsets needed to lead teams under extreme uncertainty. Using examples from Special Operations, startups, and McKinsey, Mark focuses on tactical tips you can use from Day 1 to improve your leadership and drive results.
Who Dares Wins Any endeavour requires applying the basics of a clear mission, a high-performing team, and mastery of self. Mark draws on his experience at the top levels of Special Operations and business to show you that the basics done well, are the foundations of mission success.

The Mind: Mental resilience

Focused on skills and mindsets needed to prevent mental illness, and to recover and grow from trauma and failure. Mark draws from neurobiology and uses personal examples to illustrate a proven approach to prevention, recovery and growth from failure and trauma.

Close Combat: The art and science of competition

Here Mark reviews the importance of strategy, execution, and agility in any competitive system, drawing lessons from warfighting in Afghanistan. Useful tips on how to apply this from Day 1 are included in the talk.

Execution eats strategy for breakfast

Here Mark shares anecdotes about a hard-earned lesson: execute quickly, with a sound plan. Learn about goal setting, asymmetric warfare, contingency planning and the impact of emotions in a team setting.

Peak performance under stress

In this shorter session (45 mins) Mark focuses on using 4-count breathing to dampen stress responses, and improve the quality of decision making. This is an interactive class that uses heart rate monitors to demonstrate the benefits of deep breathing in a stressful situation.

Mission, Team, Self

Outlines the hierarchy of needs that any effective leader should follow. This is a useful carryover of military values into business settings, proven by 2,000 years of history. Mark discusses the importance of rest, nutrition, exercise and growth for maintaining your foundation as an individual leader.

Mark Wales speaker
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