Meet Mark - the CEO who believes it's vital to make the most of older people’s skills and experience
Age-friendly Employer: FSCS
Current role: Chief Executive Officer
Age at time of interview: 61
Time at FSCS: 8 years
Mark is proud that age is never an issue at the FSCS. He says it’s a great place to work because it provides a vital service to people in need, invests in older workers, supports mentoring and reverse mentoring, and has fully embraced flexible working. As for retiring? Like Arsene Wenger, he’s not a fan.
Prior to joining the FSCS in 2010, I was the Director General at Her Majesty’s Treasury responsible for Budget, Tax and Welfare. Before that, I was Director General for Security at the Home Office with responsibility for Counter-terrorism and Organised Crime. One of the many important lessons that I have learned from my career is that you can’t put a price on knowledge.
The value of experience in a crisis
When I worked in the Treasury during the financial crisis, there were very few people there who had experienced a recession and it’s very useful for somebody to be able to pass on that experience. Much the same applies at the FSCS. The first contact that a member of the public will have with the FSCS is when they’ve unexpectedly been plunged into a personal financial crisis. Older workers have often seen these situations happen before. They can bring that experience to bear in new challenges and pass on their knowledge to younger colleagues.
Don’t expect older people to fit the stereotypes
The key is to focus on what each person can bring to a business, no matter what age they are. You need to treat all people as individuals. Everyone has different needs. I have met plenty of dynamic and energetic older people, as well as diffident and laid-back younger people. So I don’t think you should fall into the trap of expecting older people to fit a certain stereotype. But what they do have is accumulated experience.
Why I’m proud of our ‘Making the Most of Midlife’ programme
The FSCS has a myriad of age-friendly policies and initiatives, but the one I’m most proud of is our ‘Making the Most of Midlife’ programme, which includes our Midlife Career Conversations. We invite colleagues aged 50 and over to take part, and the sessions cover topics like finance, drawing up a will, how you might live your life in retirement, menopause, and how you might combine retirement with continuing to work.
The programme has been in place for a couple of years and it’s been very successful. We invite spouses along as well because all of these topics are likely to affect them too. People who have taken part in these reviews have said that they are really pleased they participated and that they’ve approached issues differently as a result.
BITC and the FSCS: both supporting age diversity
I’m very involved with Business in the Community (BITC) - the business-led membership organisation made up of progressive businesses of all sizes who understand that the prosperity of business and society are mutually dependent. It’s there to promote diversity and I regard my role within BITC’s Age Leadership Team as an extension of what we’re doing here at the FSCS. It also enables me to share our learnings with other companies.
Retirement is not an option
I recently turned 61 and I am as passionate about my role here as I was when I started eight and a half years ago. I find that the FSCS offers an incredibly supportive environment, and age is never an issue. It certainly has never been raised with me! I’m very happy to carry on working. I don’t intend to retire and am an advocate of the Arsene Wenger school of thinking that ‘retirement is death’.
What's Great About The FSCS?
We’re providing a service to people in real need
We protect people when businesses in financial services go bust. Clearly people are often in dire straits and at the end of their tether, and they not only need an efficient service, but they also need an empathetic service. And that is what makes this job so worthwhile.
We invest in workers, whatever their age
When older workers join the FSCS, we invest in them, possibly in ways that they wouldn’t expect. We make a big point of training and developing older colleagues, in the same way as we would train and develop younger colleagues.
We fully support mentoring and reverse mentoring
I have certainly learned a lot from my younger colleagues, particularly about how to use social media. For an organisation like ours, it’s important to make good use of social media because it’s part of raising awareness and trust in our service.
We have really embraced flexible working
We’ve invested in technology to allow people to work from home or remotely outside the office or at our partners’ sites. That is important because people need to be able to combine work with caring responsibilities whether it’s for children or older relatives, or simply to be home for when the gas people come round to fix the boiler.
“I have met plenty of dynamic and energetic older people - don’t fall into the trap of expecting older people to fit a particular stereotype”
Chief Executive Officer, FSCS
Mark's career journey
Mark's advice to others
Support organisations that promote age diversity
This is really important because if we don’t exploit the skills and experience of older workers, then we’re denying our organisations tremendous know-how, knowledge and resilience. These are exactly the qualities we need to grow businesses and to do our jobs effectively.
Don’t miss out on mature workers’ experience, skills and expertise
I would say to fellow CEOs who don’t recruit mature workers that you are missing out, and your business is missing out. Recruiting older workers is fantastic to address skills shortages and I’m always surprised when I see businesses letting people go at a particular age - especially when those people have fantastic experience, skills and expertise to offer. Why not continue to draw upon that reservoir of skills and ability?
Invest in older workers and support their work / home balance
If I was advising a business, I would strongly suggest introducing initiatives like our ‘Making the Most of Midlife’ programme so older workers can think about how to combine their working life with their home commitments. Make sure you’re investing in those workers so that they are able to contribute fully and ensure that you are transferring knowledge between generations.
Non-executive Director, Chair, University Council Member, blog writing
Just a few of Mark’s interests and side hustles
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