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The Politics of Everything

Jun 29, 2021

To discuss The Politics of Equality I am interviewing Mark Nielsen. He is the Global Chief Executive Officer of Talent International and a pioneering leader with over 25 years of experience.  Over the course of his career, Mark has held C-level roles across start-ups, turnarounds, and multinational corporations. This experience spans organizations in Australia, South Africa, China, the United Kingdom, and the USA, and across the recruitment, technology, resources, retail and medical device sectors. Throughout his career, he has held executive and non-executive director positions on listed and unlisted company boards.

Mark is often referred to as a “new age” or “next-generation” leader who truly understands the multiple benefits of a fully engaged and committed team. He is particularly proud of having built an open, respectful, and unique culture at Talent.  Mark aims to ensure that each member of the team champions Talent’s core tenets of progressive and innovative thinking, passion for technological advancement and digital transformation, and customer-centered service.  Mark’s current role is managing Talent’s $750m+ business, driving both Talent’s global expansion and its cultural and digital transformations. He is also the co-founder and board member of Talent's foundation Talent RISE, which addresses youth unemployment through the mentoring and placement of young people into technology-related roles.

In 2018, Mark was named Australian CEO of the Year (CEO Magazine), Professional Services Executive of the Year (CEO Magazine), and Recruitment Leader of the Year – Australia (SEEK SARA Awards). In 2020, he was on the Deliotte 50 Outstanding LGBTI+ leaders list.

Mark holds a Bachelor of Commerce and a Post Graduate Diploma in Accounting from the University of Cape Town is a graduate of The Wharton School’s Executive Development Program and is a member of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.

Mark is highly regarded for his ability to lead and build high-performance organizations with compassion at their core. He is outcome-focused, a long-term thinker and therefore passionate about building strong organizational cultures.

Questions we cover with Mark:

  1. Can you share your career ambitions – so what you thought you’d do for a living when you were a kid growing up? And did that happen? Your early career story please!

  2. How do you define equality and moreover inequality?

  3. Is the notion we are all born equal even realistic let alone what we can do to even out the equality divide that permeates everything such as our income status, education, where we live, and of course gender?

  4. Is equality above leveling the playfield or compensating when the situation is clearly not equal or fair? E.g. I think of things like superannuation being paid for women who take career breaks for family reasons. Some employers will top it up while they are on maternity leave.

  5. You grew up in South Africa which, at the time, was a very conservative country and you say you really struggled to express his identity as a gay man. Still to this day, there are a lot of people who struggle with this and don’t have the courage to be themselves. I know you want to change that. As a white male living a fairly comfortable life as far as we know, do you think you have an obligation – maybe more than most – to address equality more than others who may be perceived as less privileged? Why and how do you do that in your work/daily life?

  1. The rise of “cancel culture” and the idea of canceling someone coincides with a familiar pattern: A celebrity or other public figure does or says something offensive. A public backlash, often fuelled by politically progressive social media, ensues. Then come the calls to cancel the person — that is, to effectively end their career or revoke their cultural cachet, whether through boycotts of their work or disciplinary action from an employer. Is this recent focus on cancel culture a “mob mentality” on steroids, or a long-overdue way of speaking truth to old forms of power? How can it help balance the power the higher profile people have over us long term or not?

  1. What role does business and government play in improving equality in modern society? Share an example or two of how this can be done better or has been done overseas even.

  2. Who have been your greatest mentors (1 or 2) and what did they teach you?

  3. If you could choose a favorite book, song or film what would it be and why? (Can be serious or quirky!).

  4. Take away: What your final takeaway message for us on addressing The Politics of Equality?