Mark is a founding Director of PRDnationwide Newcastle and Lake Macquarie and in less than 10 short years has grown the business to over 50 staff, across three office locations, as well as establishing Safe Hands Property Management and Newcastle New Projects.
Since winning the Hunter Business Young Achiever award in 2010 and being a finalist in the NSW Young Business Person of the Year he has gone on to be awarded the prestigious Australian Principal of the Year ‚Äì Regional across all brands in the 2014 Real Estate Awards.
Mark’s passions align with the values of being innovative, successful and respectful and he is inspired by other leaders who, like him, value life as a whole and not just business alone.
For a snapshot of our audio interview with Mark Kentwell, please view the above video.
TO READ THE EDITED INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE SEE BELOW.
- What path led you to where you are now?
The summarised version is that I left school at the end of Year 11 as I was really eager to join the workforce. Although I had done well in all my scores, I was starting to become distracted ‚Äì I just wanted to get out and start a job, make some money and start my own adventure as such.
I applied for a number of a apprenticeships and I ended up in the mines, chasing the money. I did a dual trade apprenticeship there.
I started investing in property quite early; from 19 I had my first house, second one by 21. But this made me realise that the mines wasn’t my long-term passion. Whilst I was okay at the work and contributed just like any other, I wasn’t passionate about. So I started looking at other things. I was also managing bands and events in my spare time, but I ended up doing a Certificate in Real Estate just to keep my partner at the time company and I just feel in love with it start away.
I had a conversation around the dinner table with my father, who was in commercial real estate at the time, and we talked about going out together. So I sold an investment property, took a voluntary redundancy and started a real estate business from scratch.
- Is there anything about your industry you would like to change?
I’d like to see more transparency in negations in real estate. I’ve been changing the face of auctions in Australia for some time with the friendly auction system, which started right here in Newcastle. This year I’ll be speaking at the Australian Real Estate Conference to 5,000 agents and there are training programs to bring that into place across the country. It’s a consumer driven auction system that makes auction friendlier for buyers and therefore better for all parties.
- What experiences have shaped the leader you are today?
We had a standard start to business in that we had to overcome a lot of adversity and really find our core points of difference. And work harder than anyone else to get through those first few years.
I had been told that only 50 per cent of businesses make it through the first two years and 90 per cent of businesses fail within the first five years so I was really keen to get through those two barriers.
But in working so hard to do that we grew quite rapidly, brought on staff, opened different branches and that rapid growth brings a whole extra set of skills that you’re just forced to learn and adapt to. Looking back you’ve learnt a whole lot of skills that you didn’t have before ‚Äì dealing with competitors trying to cut you down, dealing with HR and the emotional side of the business and having people work for you. So those experiences of dealing business growth actually shape the type of leader you become in the future.
- How do you define the difference between a Manager and a Leader?
I see a Manager more as a problem solver. They are obviously someone who is working within a set of predefined guidelines that a staff member that needs to be working within, making sure that they’re performing to that, they’re measuring against KPIs and a set of standards. They’re effectively dealing with what’s in front of them at that time and have a fairly medium-term view at the longest, of how someone’s preforming and how a division’s going.
With a leader it’s more of a helicopter view, you’re rising a lot further above the scenery that going on around you. Whilst you need to be analyzing certain situations as they pop up and hearing from Managers, as a leader you are really looking at where the overall pieces of the puzzle fit together and where things need to go moving forward. So everything that’s happening in relation to a leader you’re always seeing about how it fits into the greater picture, asking how it gets you where you want it to go and most importantly you’re setting the direction as well and being courageous enough to follow through with that direction even when sticky situations come your way.
- What local leader do you find inspiring?
One guy that’s really got it together as far as the vision and values within your business is Paul Siderovski. He owns a charter accountancy called Sidcor, but he’s also just started the Yogurtland franchises.
He’s a very courageous leaders, he’s right out there pushing the boundaries of what you can do in business, what you can get from your people.
He’s a guy that rose quite quickly when he went into his own business and a lot of traditional business owners probably looked at that and thought he wouldn’t make it. And he’s just kept on pushing and growing.
Jamie Aratoon has become a friend of mine but he’s also a developer that I watched before I even got into real estate.
He’s very proud of his product and what he does, and likes to leave a legacy on every building or development he does.But what’s inspiring about Jamie is that he’s very big on making sure he fits in a bit of fun around all the work that goes on.
You can get absolutely get swallowed up being an entrepreneur and being driven and motivated. He’s big on his health and having fun and travel. It’s been a healthy reminder for me, seeing someone like that who’s 10 years ahead of me in his career because there’s certainly key points when you make a decision about whether or not you go on a holiday or you keep on working.
Another friend and business associate is Nathan Wright. He’s got a background in mining as well and has tried a few different businesses that have been successful in different ways.
He now has a business called Funda, which does short-term loans and helps companies sell products on credit. That business is going externally well and that was a different venture for him. That’s another guy who values family, his health and likes to have fun as well.
When I look at leaders that are inspiring it’s people who value life as a whole and not just business on it’s own.