Mark Wales

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

Elite Leadership (Keynote)

  • Mark believes that leadership can be taught, and the aim of this keynote is to outline the fundamentals of elite leadership
  • Mark draws on his experience at the top levels of business and Special Operations to show you that the basics done well, are the foundations of mission success
  • Any endeavour requires applying the basics of mission focus, a supportive team, and self-care
  • Self-care fundamentals such as rest, nutrition, exercise and growth are the basics needed for elite performance.
  • Mark draws from neurobiology and uses personal examples to illustrate a proven approach to prevention, recovery and growth
  • Outlines the importance of simplicity, focus and agility in planning to achieve mission success
  • Lasts for 60 minutes, including 15 minutes discussion / Q&A 

Self-care for leaders

  • Mark addresses increasing demands and pressures on team leaders and how self-care is critical to elite performance, mental health and thriving under pressure
  • Mark discusses team mission, team norms and personal boundaries needed for optimal performance
  • Addressing overwhelm and learning how to triage tasks in a high pressure environment
  • ‘Leading in chaos’ tips. Mark uses an example of a failed combat mission in Afghanistan to outline the importance of simplicity, focus and agility in planning

Pre-mortems: wargaming your plans and teams for improved resilience (Workshop)

  • The aim of this series is to show the pre-mortem framework for stress testing initiatives to increase chances of mission success
  • Perfec t for an annual kick-off, launching a project, or forming a new team
  • This workshop promotes collaboration, candour and removes bias, all while building better plans
  • Focused on skills and mindsets needed to lead teams under extreme uncertainty, in a highly interactive environment.
  • Using examples from Special Operations, startups, and McKinsey & Company, Mark focuses on tactical tips you can use from Day 1 to improve your chances of a win in your new project or team
  • Workshop lasts for 90 minutes, with an optional 60-minute follow-up 

Pre-mortems: wargaming your plans and teams for improved resilience

  • Learn how to review a completed task to after execution with the intent of improving your team processes
  • This session promotes a framework to ‘learn from failure’ that you and your team can adopt for each session
  • Mark helps illustrate the importance on this with combat stories about failure in the field and how to improve from it.
  • Great for training new and emerging team leaders with skills they need to gather and action feedback after each initiative. This session includes processes and tips to apply from Day 1.
  • Workshop lasts for 90 minutes, with an optional 60-minute follow-up
Mark Wales speaker

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