Mark Pellow – Quiet Quality
Written by Joff Alexander-Frye
Photography by Nick Hook
Mark Pellow is a busy man. He is the Managing Director of Vickery Holman, a Commercial Property Consultancy firm in Devon and Cornwall, and was also recently appointed as the Chairman of the Exeter Chamber of Commerce. Add on top of that being married with two teenage children, a history of charitable work and the rest that comes along with being a 21st century human and he really is spinning a lot of plates.
Having never met him before, if I’m being honest, I somewhat expected a man with his sorts of commitments to be coming to our interview a little fidgety, possibly pre-occupied and with half an eye on the things he could be doing rather than sitting and talking with me. However, pre-conceptions are so often wrong in life, aren’t they?
Instead, I found him to be relaxed, engaged, interested in dialogue rather than dictation and very approachable. Although only lasting half an hour, our time together was packed with interesting conversation, with topics ranging from future growth opportunities and challenges for Exeter as well as the ongoing drama of Brexit.
Growing up in Falmouth, Cornwall, Mark worked for English China Clays as a trainee surveyor, before moving up to their Exeter office where he qualified in his mid-twenties. He fell in love with the city, its economy and its lifestyle; the perfect blend of business and leisure. That was thirty years ago and Mark hasn’t looked back since, choosing nearby Feniton as the location to settle down, have a family and enjoy his career in Exeter too.
When I asked him about his love for Exeter he stated,
“I always think of Exeter as a county town that grew into a regional city. The difference between Exeter and its surrounds now compared to twenty or thirty years ago is remarkable. It really is an exciting and vibrant place to be. As one of the four fastest growing cities in the UK, along with Cambridge, Oxford and London, we really are in great company too.”
I reflected with Mark that, surely it is better to have growing pains than shrinking pains like so many other locations in the UK. It is still painful but yields fruit and reward for the city as a whole. Mark commented,
“I think a lot of people want the city to continue to grow as an economic hub for the Great Exeter area, but understandably many are not keen for new development on their own doorstep. I also believe that a lot of the infrastructural challenges facing Exeter will be solved by a mixture of intentional and focused hard work and an element of self-righting. At a very basic level, if people are sick of being stuck in traffic, then they will eventually explore alternative modes of transport. Not that things should necessarily get to that point, but the responsibility for change is shared between local government, organisations, like the Chamber, and individual people. It has to be in order for things to change in the long-term.”
Moving his way up through Vickery Holman, from Surveyor, to associate, to Director and then Managing Director, Mark joked that he “probably got the job as MD, because no one else wanted to do it.” He paused for a second with a wry smile on his face and added, “Come to think of it, maybe that’s how I became Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce too!”. Clearly, he was joking, but a foundation of humility and self-assuredness peeked out from beneath his calm and quietly self-confident demeanour in a moment of telling character.
He talked openly about the time commitments and challenges that come with chairing an organisation like the Chamber at the same time as having a busy full-time job. With openness and transparency, Mark shared how he has to lean on key individuals within both organisations at times to allow for urgent and important work to be focused on. Much like spinning plates, sometimes one plate needs more attention than others but that can quickly change and your focus shifts onto a different plate.
Primarily, Mark’s focus for the Chamber is to make sure that members feel listened to, well-represented and confident that the Chamber is relevant and has a voice. In terms of Vickery Holman, with offices in Exeter, Plymouth, Truro and Bristol, it is the largest Commercial Property Consultancy firm in the region and Mark’s focus is to maintain its growth and navigate the coming months leading up to and just after Brexit.
He was keen not to discuss personal politics but made it clear that he is a firm believer that the Brexit saga needs to be resolved one way or the other as soon as possible. To ‘kick the can down the road’ much longer will only cause more difficulty and damage, in his opinion.
I found Mark to be a steady, calm man with an underlying sense of security and conviction. If his hand is as steady as I think it will be on the tillers of Vickery Holman and the Exeter Chamber of Commerce, both organisations stand to benefit greatly from his leadership and vision.
Follow @VickeryHolman and @exeterchamber on twitter to keep up to date with the progress of both organisations.