April 2nd, 2020


Marcus Beale, Managing Director - Leadership at Drax

Marcus Beale tried out several careers before discovering the one that suited him best. He studied law at Leeds University but quickly realised that it was not for him, so he joined KPMG and trained as a chartered accountant before moving into corporate finance at Cable and Wireless. But that didn’t feel quite right either so he went into recruitment and has been there ever since.

He says: “I liked it because it was a people business.”

He started out at recruitment firm Michael Page and then joined Penna, the HR Consulting firm, where he set up the CFO practice from scratch. His earlier career in accountancy proved to be an asset, giving him a first hand insight into the financial world. He says: “When I am interviewing people I can tell when they are talking rubbish.”

Marcus then joined the senior management team at Odgers, the executive search firm, where he set up and ran their UK Regional CFO practice too. When the share price of the business slumped in the 2008 stockmarket crash, the management team took the opportunity to acquire the business and take it private, a move which worked out spectacularly well.

He says: “We reset the clock and went on a growth strategy and within ten years we had established the business as a major global search firm.”

Always running alongside his career, however, was an enduring passion for rugby and elite sport. Marcus played rugby for Harrogate on a semi-professional basis for many years, and when that became too difficult to fit around his job, he switched to taking part in endurance races in his spare time.

Amongst other things he has swum the English Channel, climbed Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the world outside Asia, and taken part in the infamous Marathon des Sables, running across the Sahara desert.

So when Marcus left Odgers in 2018 it seemed like the perfect time to take on an even bigger challenge -  rowing solo from Spain to Antigua in the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge. The race took him 48 days; rowing 18 hours a day, sleeping for just 2 hours a night. He not only won the solo category for his race, he set a new world record for his class of boat and raised £120,000 for Macmillan Cancer charity in the process.

All his achievements have come at some personal cost – Marcus has had to have a knee replacement, has arthritis in his joints, 17 screws in his foot and metal plates in his head and shoulder.

However, he explains the appeal: “I am a very driven, very focused individual. I enjoy testing and challenging myself and I have a determination in me to succeed despite the odds. I believe that I have got a mental toughness which trumps other competitors, and I like contesting that.”

That drive for achievement is also what has brought him to Drax. Marcus says: “Drax has developed a disruptive technology which has the potential to completely flip on its head what we understand as leadership in private equity and transform the market. There is a clear target that we are trying to achieve and a finite time in which to achieve it, and that is very exciting. I feel very privileged to be joining the business at this particular inflexion point.”

His role at Drax will be two-fold – he will open and manage the Manchester office and develop a presence in the UK regions and also oversee the leadership business. He says: “A third of private equity portfolio businesses are based out of London in the Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds region that I will cover. We will grow with our clients and build a local presence for them.”

Marcus says the secret to achieving success, whether in business or in sport, is not just to have a clear goal, but to have systems in place for achieving it: “My view is that everyone is capable of considerably more than they think. But a goal without systems to deliver that goal is worthless. The goal of every single athlete in a 100 metre race is to win, but what makes the difference is the systems and habits that the winner has – to go out running in the rain at 5am in the morning when no-one else wanted to, and to put in the work.”

He adds: “It is all about integrity. Integrity is what you do when no-one else is looking. It is doing the actions and behaviours you said you would do - because that will lead to the outcome you want.”

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