5 Questions with... Mark Kellett

Mark Kellett.

CEO of Magnet Networks.

"We jumped in the water at 2:00am on September 23rd and swam onto the beach 13hrs 18mins later. Job Done!"

1.  Moments in your life that you take pleasure in... give you pleasure.

As I look back at my life so far there are many, many moments that have given me great pleasure. The day I asked my wife Susan to marry me at the top of a mountain in Glendalough, Wicklow, to the birth of my sons. Passing my professional Accounting Exams and then my MBA.

In 1993 I had the opportunity to be part of the 1st Irish expedition to climb Mt Everest. As a 23 yr old who originally came from Ballymun this was not something that was typically on your “to do” list. I’d always enjoyed the outdoors whether as a scout or in the FCA and particularly enjoyed mountaineering and the opportunities it gives to be close to nature. I’d read about Everest in my teenage years and harboured an ambition to set foot on it. The time I spent training for this and the incredible people I met both as part of the team and out in Nepal and Tibet is something that helped shaped who I am today. The lessons learned were many; the importance of teamwork, the critical need to spend the time learning the skills to take on such a challenge and the need to develop the mental strength for long distance/endurance events. All of these have helped me in my professional life.

In 2013 I had the opportunity to represent Ireland at the World Triathlon Championships in London.  I’d only just taken up the sport of Triathlon and Adventure Racing following my retirement from competitive rugby. I have a mantra that if you really want to succeed at anything you need to surround yourself with people who you can learn from, who can challenge you and your way of thinking. If you want to learn to swim faster you don’t swim with those who are slower than you, you swim with those who are faster than you, who will force you to improve your technique, your speed and stamina. The opportunity to compete against the best in the World for my age group was a brilliant opportunity to learn from the very best in the sport and so improve my own performance.

This September 2017 I had the opportunity to take on yet another incredible life experience and this time in doing so to give something back to society. Last September 2016, I decided along with 3 others that we would try to raise €60,000 to build a school in a poverty stricken area in Northern Kenya. To do this we decided to set the goal as a swim across the English Channel. We jumped in the water at 2:00am on September 23rd and swam onto the beach 13hrs 18mins later. Job Done!  The training required for this undertaking was immense but actually the greater issue was the mental strength required to endure swimming in at night in the sea in total darkness with an air Temperature of 8c and water temperature of 15c in nothing more than good old school swimming togs or as some call them, “Budgie Smugglers”. To date we’ve raised approx. €65,000

2. What’s your life philosophy/ driving force? Motivating quote in your head….

“Carpe Diem”…seize the day!

“Never stop learning because life never stops teaching”

“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it but that it is too low and we reach it”  Michelangelo.

3. Who inspires you and why?

I could choose the clichéd answers of the Dalai Lama for example but it is in fact my family who are a huge inspiration to me. I want to be a great father and husband, to leave a legacy with my children of trust, integrity, adventure, respect.

There are of course others in sport and in business who I admire for what they have achieved in life, eg Jeff Bezos of Amazon in business and on the sporting front I’d see the likes of Roger Federer who not only had excelled in the Tennis world but through his work in the Federer Foundation is supporting nearly 1M children in Africa through educational projects.

4. What do you like to prepare well for each day?

I get up most days between 5:30am and 6:00am. Most mornings involve either running my dogs first thing or getting in the swimming pool for a training session.

I am a stickler for ensuring my shoes are always polished.

5. One piece of advice you would give to young people today? One piece of advice that you heard somewhere and stick by?

Get up and out of bed early…get active early in the day and you’ll achieve so much more. The early bird catches the Worm!

It’s not all about Digital….I see so many young people looking for answers by staring only at a screen, seeking truth in the digital world. There’s a need to sometimes stop and look up, look around, to engage with the physical world around you. You can’t learn to climb a mountain or swim the channel by watching you tube videos, you’ve got to get off your ass and do it.

Nothing in my view is impossible…I was told that my Everest ambition was not realistic, that competing for Ireland was not for someone like me and that swimming the channel was a step to far for me.

Finally, I’d encourage all young people to travel, to gain new insights and life experiences. In terms of career I’d say that in your first 10 years to move around industries and roles. I’ve worked in the Airline industry, High Street Retail, Software, Digital Media, TV and now Telecoms.