Sales and Marketing Director at Samsung sounds a pretty well-paid number. So you’d think a week on the Nile might mean a cruise in pampered luxury. Mark Mitchinson is different – he cycled it for charity.
“It was in aid of CLIC Sargent, a children’s cancer charity,” says Mark. “We covered 400 kilometres in five days and raised over £58,000 in sponsorship.”
Why put yourself through it, though? “I feel that it’s something of a cop-out just to put a cheque in an envelope. It’s important that if something’s worth supporting, it’s worth investing time to make a real difference.
“The trip was worthwhile in other ways. The sheer physical exertion in 30C degree heat tests your endurance and that’s no bad training for business. It was a salutary reminder, too, of how the other half lives.”
Mark Mitchinson got into mobile in 1988 when he joined Nokia-Mobira as a dealer account manager within the M25 area. “It was a cold start — between them the three guys running the area before its amalgamation sold just 56 Nokia handsets through dealers in the month prior to me taking up the post.”
He obviously applied some heat. In 1994 he became Head of Sales at Cellcom, returned to Nokia as Head of Sales in 1996. He went to Brightpoint as General Manager a couple of years later, and in 2001 joined Samsung as Head of Network Operators.
He subsequently became General Manager and then Director, saying at Samsung basically because he enjoys the Samsung culture. “I’ve been here a long time and that’s not because I’m complacent. I, and everyone who works here, has room to grow. I can’t stand micro-management – people have to be able to adapt to change and be allowed to develop in an environment that’s open and candid. If anything goes wrong, the question should be, ‘How can we fix it?’ and never, ‘Who’s to blame?’”
With that kind of management the work/life balance becomes easier. “In a results-driven competitive business the lines become blurred. It helps if you can feel that at work you’re a member of a congenial club.”
He’s competitive, of course. When younger, his height of 6’3” made him a useful basketball player for Crystal Palace and Kingston. “It began to get tough when the opposition started fielding whole teams who were over 7’3”.
Being good at snooker used to be the sign of a misspent youth. In Mitchinson’s case the influence was greyhound racing. “As a South London boy, I went with my father to Wimbledon and White City and was hooked. I’ve owned a few racing greyhounds but my commitment has changed to greyhound rescue and welfare.
“The casual abandonment of dogs that are no longer able to race is one of the great animal welfare scandals. I’ve owned rescue dogs, although I’m without one at the moment. They make the most wonderful pets and I’d recommend them to anyone. One day I expect to acquire some land to start my own greyhound rescue charity, although I have plenty of work on my hands at the moment.”
While he’s no Hell’s Angel, he does love his bikes. “I have a Yamaha R1, a Ducati 749 and a BMW 1200cc. You’ll also see me in more relaxed mode on my new Honda Goldwing.”
Like all good managers, he knows how to delegate. With his wife, Lynne, he is project managing major alterations to his Surrey home, which has a garden which seems no bigger than Luxembourg. “I’m OK at tree planting and I like relaxing in the garden but DIY is a serious blind spot. Some things are best left to the experts – a thought that should comfort dealers. It’s not easy for them right now but the greater the specialist expertise they can offer, the better they’ll meet the challenge.”
Rising to a challenge is something he’s good at – and, as his charity work shows, nice guys don’t have to finish last.
1988 – 94 Dealer Account Manager, Nokia
1994 – 96 Head of Sales, Cellcom
1996 – 98 Head of Sales, Nokia
1998 – 99 General Manager, Brightpoint
1999 – General Manager/Director, Samsung
My team I’m a lifelong Chelsea fan.
My sports I’ve always been a 28 handicap golfer – I’ve collected divots from some of the best courses. I follow Moto GP, World Superbikes and British Superbikes.
My music Blues, jazz
My perfect night out. A night in, with choice food, fine wine and good company.
My holidays Portugal is a perfect getaway, Vancouver’s quality of life appeals.
My cars I sold my Lotus Elise because I struggled to get in and out of it with any dignity. I like my Jaguar XJ8 – a sign that I’m getting older and value comfort before style.