Leaders’ Insights: Mark Gardiner, Three Ireland

13 Oct 2016

Mark Gardiner, Three Ireland

Mark Gardiner is the head of products, services and logistics at Three Ireland.

MBA-qualified with over 15 years’ experience in senior management, Mark Gardiner joined Three Ireland in 2012.

He leads devices, products and services, supply chain and logistics teams at Three.

Describe your role and what you do.

Future Human

My role as head of products, services and logistics is quite diverse. It involves developing and managing our devices portfolio, ensuring we are ranging the right handsets for our customers and developing the right manufacturer partnerships to take us forward. I also manage our supply chain and logistics function, ensuring we support all aspects of the business and lead our products and partnership teams guaranteeing that Three is supporting the best possible customer experience and value-added benefits from using our network.

Having worked in several different industries, I can say my current role is one of the most rewarding and challenging, working in such a fast-moving environment and having the opportunity to lead such diverse teams.

How do you prioritise and organise your working life?

With the many complex demands any fast-paced role brings, I take a very organised approach to how I prioritise my time and support of the teams. Like most people in today’s workforce, I am very reliant on my mobile phone and the constant access it gives me during the day. My Outlook calendar drives my working week and Evernote keeps me linked at all times to my priorities.

I work to keep as much of my working day free to focus on what my team needs and making time for interaction, and tend to spend early mornings or evening working though the constant emails and calls that the pace of my working life brings.

What are the biggest challenges facing your business and how are you tackling them?

As a business, we face many challenges and operate in a very competitive environment. Three is the data consumption leader in the mobile industry. In fact, we carry more data than all other operators combined, and we are continually managing the growth in demand for data-led services and network expansion.

These challenges are being met by significant investment in our network, which will deliver a state-of-the-art 4G network for our customers. We are also undertaking a digital transformation project and leading partnerships across all areas of the business. These will make us more efficient in cost and processes, resulting in us being better able to deliver real value to our customers.

What are the key industry opportunities you’re capitalising on?

One of the key industry opportunities is the internet of things (IoT).  IoT is creating huge opportunities for the industry, with new technologies emerging, making mobile even more relevant and bringing value to our customers. With IoT, companies will need to think differently and for us, that includes how we partner and add products to our portfolio and how customers will live a mobile-connected life in the future.

What set you on the road to where you are in the technology industry?

I have always had a love for gadgets, the latest technology and how it could be used in my life, so joining Three was the perfect fit. I was excited about future technology and passionate about working with people that want to make all of our lives better, more connected and fun. I still remember my first Motorola mobile and how ridiculous it was squeezing into my pocket but I enjoyed being able to connect with people so quickly and easily.

What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?

There isn’t a huge mistake that sticks out. I have been quite fortunate with my choices and I believe you should learn from those choices and keep developing.

I once passed on an opportunity to relocate to the US. Having worked in Montréal, Canada for a few years, I was very tempted at the time to relocate and try something different, but that feeling passed as the excitement of life in the technology environment took over. I always wanted to move to a role and be part of an industry that is changing the way we live our lives.

How do you get the best out of your team?

I have the pleasure of having a very experienced and skilled team so I try not to get in the way too often and support them with a positive approach to any challenges and a solution-orientated way of thinking.  People need to be empowered in their roles and Three has a strong focus on supporting this. I support a culture of learning, autonomy and quick, supportive communication.

Who is your business hero and why?

I don’t have one business hero who stands out but I have worked with some great leaders in different companies and do today. One thing they have in common is a strong work ethic, a passion for goals and the ability to bring you with them on that journey.

What books have you read that you would recommend?

I find my free time is quite limited outside work and family life and, while I used to be an avid reader, in recent times I have not read as much as I would like. I do get to enjoy some exciting kids’ books and, much like many parents, the latest David Walliams books are an ongoing conversation topic at home. For easy reading I would recommend the Stieg Larsson books, particularly The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which made passing time while travelling very enjoyable.

What are the essential tools and resources that get you through the working week?

There are no magic tricks here, apart from a heavy reliance on Microsoft, but a young family competing for my time in the evenings helps me to keep perspective, as I have a tendency to be completely work-focused.