Mark’s face is a familiar one in EF Education First’s Boston office. Many recognize him as the unofficial front-man of the Running Club, while others see him as the fitness instructor who hosts twice-weekly circuit training classes. Others still—and perhaps the biggest group at EF—see Mark as a mentor and confidant, always there to lend an ear. Having been at EF for 17 years, Mark is certainly all of these things, and it’s clear he makes an impact on everyone he works with.
Mark’s EF career started in EF Educational Tours, which helps teachers broaden their students’ perspectives by bringing them on immersive international tours that help them better understand the world and their place in it. Mark was hired to help the team understand how best to forge meaningful connections with educators while helping them understand the powerful outcomes associated with bringing the world into their classrooms and their students out into the world. He coached teams at home in Boston, while also traveling and training EF staff in other divisions and offices across Europe.
Mark’s hard work and curiosity helped him move up and across a variety of teams and products within EF. “I started to poke at different things,” Mark said. “I started looking at how we’re using our phone systems, what’s our customer service with them like.” Jobs at EF are all about exploring, experimenting, and failing quickly, and Mark was a natural at diving in and asking questions. It’s one reason why he’s found such success at EF, and why so many of his colleagues seek his advice.
Eventually, Mark began overseeing Customer Service for EF Educational Tours before moving again to become Vice President, Sales at EF Explore America, which creates educational tours of the U.S. and Canada for middle and high school students. At one point, he even became the head of the shipping department. “They have the best team in the world down there,” Mark said proudly.
His toughest job at EF came later, when Mark helped build the in-house EF Labs team, responsible for creating internal and external technology solutions to support customer needs. “I took it as far as I could, but as we were heading down the path of agile development, I felt like it was time for someone else to take it on and push it the rest of the way,” he described.
And that’s how Mark found his way to his current role—one that he created and pitched to the CEO himself. “I had an opportunity,” Mark explained. “When I pitched it, the idea was, ‘how do we find opportunities to save money across the board at EF?’” Now, Mark says, “I work with the tours products to identify opportunities to improve efficiencies and cost savings with a wide variety of vendors, while trying to identify areas across EF where we can learn from each other as it relates to the vendors and products we use and buy. What I’m really trying to do is take all of the information that exists across EF and have it in a place where you can make a decision from a more informed standpoint.”
Mark says his role is all about mobile telecom, vendor management, general procurement, and relationships, and with that comes a lot of contract negotiation. “I love negotiating contracts,” he said, smiling. “I love what I do, every aspect of it. I love a challenge, figuring out how to take a big project and move it forward. The challenge is my favorite part–give me a problem and I’ll solve it.”
Along the way, Mark also found his niche as a “go-to” EF staff mentor. “It’s really fun to see the people I’ve talked to move into different roles,” Mark said. “One thing I am most proud of at EF is being given the opportunity to witness and help some amazing people grow and develop their careers.”
For those who have yet to benefit from Mark’s friendship and leadership, he has some advice to share with everyone who works at EF. “Don’t wait until you’re ready for your next job to figure it out, where you want to go,” Mark said. “You should be having conversations with your manager early on about your career path and the skills you need to develop, so when you’re ready for that next role, you truly are ready.”
He also advised that this has to be driven by the individual. “You have to follow-up on the skills you hope to develop. You need to communicate with your manager to keep that conversation going. You have to be driving it.” He smiled. “That’s the biggest piece of advice I give everybody.”
At the end of the day, Mark says it’s corny, but the people at EF are a big reason he enjoys coming to work every morning. “Knowing that I’m going to have great interactions with great people throughout the day keeps the smile on my face, without a doubt.”