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Ex-Special Operations Major, Author & Speaker


Mark Wales was a career Special Forces Officer in charge of 30 elite soldiers, his role was to lead combat missions deep behind enemy lines. Mark has completed 10 tours of duty to Afghanistan, Iraq, East Timor, Lebanon and the Solomon Islands.

Current Work:

Mark's successful transition from the Army led him to a high-profile business career. He graduated with an MBA from the Wharton School of Business - and joined McKinsey & Company. Mark was listed in Wharton’s prestigious 40 under 40 awards for business excellence. He is the founder and CEO of a tough-luxury brand, Kill Kapture.

Mark’s best-selling memoir: Survivor: Life in the SAS, is known as one of the leading contemporary war memoirs.
Mark’s is married to Samantha Gash and they have a four-year-old boy called Harry.

Talking Points

Elite Leadership (Keynote)

Mark believes that leadership can be taught, and the aim of this keynote is to outline the fundamentals of elite leadership.

Mark draws on his experience at the top levels of business and Special Operations to show you that the basics done well, are the foundations of mission success.

Key Takeaways:

- Any endeavour requires applying the basics of mission focus, a supportive team, and self-care
- Self-care fundamentals such as rest, nutrition, exercise and growth are the basics needed for elite performance.
- Mark draws from neurobiology and uses personal examples to illustrate a proven approach to prevention, recovery and growth
- Outlines the importance of simplicity, focus and agility in planning to achieve mission success

Duration: 60 minutes, including 15 minutes discussion / Q&A

Self-Care for Leaders

Mark addresses increasing demands and pressures on team leaders and how self-care is critical to elite performance, mental health and thriving under pressure.

Key Takeaways:
- Mark discusses team mission, team norms and personal boundaries needed for optimal performance
- Addressing overwhelm and learning how to triage tasks in a high-pressure environment
- ‘Leading in chaos’ tips. Mark uses an example of a failed combat mission in Afghanistan to outline the importance of simplicity, focus and agility in planning

Workshop: Pre-mortems: wargaming your plans and teams for improved resilience

The aim of this series is to show the pre-mortem framework for stress testing initiatives to increase chances of mission success. Perfect for an annual kick-off, launching a project, or forming a new team.

This workshop promotes collaboration, candour and removes bias, all while building better plans and is focused on skills and mindsets needed to lead teams under extreme uncertainty, in a highly interactive environment.

Using examples from Special Operations, startups, and McKinsey & Company, Mark focuses on tactical tips you can use from Day 1 to improve your chances of a win in your new project or team

Duration: 90 minutes, with an optional 60-minute follow-up
Mark Wales was an outstanding Guest Speaker at our regional health service AGM. With a mixed audience of over 200 people including staff and community members, Mark’s fabulous presentation and his very powerful messages resonated with all. The feedback from those attending was exceptionally positive. A truly inspirational man. I could not recommend him more highly as an inspirational and motivational guest speaker. Northeast Health Wangaratta

Mark delivered a thought-provoking and insightful presentation. He displayed a level of vulnerability which was refreshing and enabled the audience to connect with him and his story. Mark also provided some very practical tips and was able to inspire others to make positive changes for both to improve mental health and perform better in the workplace. Mark made himself available during breaks and lunch to speak with individuals and answer questions and this was appreciated by many. On an administrative note, Mark was easy to contact, engage with and he was punctual and well prepared.

Department of Defence

Mark was very engaging and provided the perfect message that the team required as we head into another year of selling. Mark delivered a message that demonstrated mental strong, commitment, ownership and emotion. I would highly recommend Mark.

Mimecast Aust. Pty. Ltd.

Mark spoke to our group of approximately 100 executives at a high profile leadership offsite. He led topics related to mental health and effective techniques for stress management in the workplace. He was deeply credible and highly engaging, drawing on his experience from both the battlefield and the boardroom. We would be thrilled to have Mark join us again in the future and would certainly recommend him for other engagements.

McKinsey & Company

In his ‘Peer Perspectives on Leadership’ keystone speech at Wharton, Mark passed on thrilling lessons about life and leadership as a Troop Commander in the Australian Special Air Service Regiment. The unit specialized in sensitive strategic operations, hostage recovery, counter terrorism, and precision air strikes. Mark completed 10 tours of duty overseas, including in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, East Timor, and the Solomon Islands. Experiences in each of these countries taught Mark about the importance of how personal values and your perspectives on life can shape your approach to leadership. An unforgettable talk.

Wharton School of Business
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