CEO & Chairman
Mark Garrett is the Yarra schoolboy who swapped the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne for a career that has taken him to the USA, Austria, Switzerland and Germany. Currently based in Hamburg, he’s a CEO of one group and Chairman of another with in total 22,000 employees.
Mark is also a member of the Republic of Austria being bestowed with the Grand Silver Medal of Honour with Star for services to the Republic after being recognised for his efforts in helping to transform what it now the country’s most profitable business.
He credits some lessons learned at Yarra with some of his leadership success.
“I was one of the kids who pushed the boundaries a little at school. But I remember teachers like Les Christie who always showed patience and understanding when I did something stupid,” says Mark.
“And when he showed that, I then felt obligated to do something for him. I wanted to give back and so through him I learned that it is better to treat people with patience and understanding. Success comes from a huge group of people and the skill is getting them going in the same direction – then incredible things can happen.”
Mark joined Yarra in Year 5 and remembers his Dad helping him master the art of tying a Windsor knot – something he can still do.
He says he wasn’t particularly academic at school and it wasn’t until he went to the University of Melbourne that he knuckled down. At Yarra, he spent some of his happiest moments playing cricket, football and tennis. He was also a member of Heatherdale Tennis Club where he played against childhood friend, Pat Cash.
“I wasn’t particularly academic. I enjoyed English and learned a little bit of schoolboy German. If I’d known I’d end up living in Switzerland, Austria and Germany I might have put a little more effort in!” he says.
“Language expands your horizons and if you can speak someone else’s language, it’s much easier to create understanding.”
Despite living on the other side of the world, Mark’s memories of Yarra remain strong and he says the School motto firmly describes the path his life has taken.
“I saw possibilities beyond the ones in front of me and so I was able to go further than I thought possible,” he says.
“I still have moments when I wonder how a boy from Donvale, kicking a football in the car park of Yarra and breaking a car window, got here!”