Face of the future
Post & Parcel speaks to Mark Siviter, who became CEO of Jersey Post this June, about keeping up with digital innovation, the importance of engaging with posties on the shop floor and how he plans to build on the strength of Jersey Post’s trusted brand.
What attracted you to the role at Jersey Post?
I used to work with (former Jersey Post CEO) Tim Brown when I was CEO for the global mail business in the UK and Nordics at Deutsche Post. I’ve followed Tim’s journey over the years and saw how he expanded Jersey Post from a domestic-based parcel mail operator into a global operator. He achieved a really significant turnaround. Jersey Post is now such a diverse business and there are exciting times ahead. Postal organisations across the world are often associated with trust but I feel Jersey Post has something even more special about the brand. When you work with Jersey Post there is a sense that things will be done in the right way. And I’m going to continue to build on the strengths of the brand.
How will you use your expertise at Jersey Post?
I’ll be able to draw on my full range of experience; from working at DHL and The Post Office in global mail propositions as well as my expertise in logistics, transportation and ocean and air freight from my time at DX. I intend to continue our global growth by investing in businesses and ensuring we are there for our customers in the e-commerce markets and local communities.
As Jersey Post continues to expand internationally, how will you maintain that connection with your core customers –the islanders?
When I was appointed by Jersey Post I was asked if I was going to move to the island. For me there was absolutely no doubt. I wouldn’t be able to connect with the island if I wasn’t part of the community.
I need to be able to understand the local environment for example I need to know instinctively what days the bins are collected and appreciate the specific issues posties are dealing with on the Island.
How is your role going so far?
I’m just entering week three of my job here and I am really enjoying it – we have got a really strong team and a strong strategic plan. The first thing I did when I started was do a post round so I experienced first-hand delivering to some of the houses on the narrow roads here! I’m also engaging with the Chamber of Commerce, getting to meet local members of parliament and lots of staff. There’s an election on the island at the minute, so there’s quite a bit of change going on. Jersey is a small place, so I am already bumping into people I have just met with in the airport or in the shops!
Can you tell me about the user needs survey Jersey Post is conducting?
Earlier this year we ran a future customer needs survey across businesses and citizens. The findings from this survey are helping us paint a forward-looking picture of what the ideal postal operation will look like and identify what consumers will want in the future. We are using this to see how we can adjust and adapt our services. The survey has given us some important data about the needs of people and businesses on the island who receive and send packages internationally.
In the last couple of years Jersey Post has focused on its transformation, with the launch of Vaiie, how do you plan to develop this area?
I actually studied digital transformation at Imperial College London I think it’s important as leaders to stay relevant. In the Boardroom everybody has a different view as to what digital means. Some people talk about digital transformation as if it is something their kids do. I don’t want to be someone who doesn’t understand anything relevant. So, I went off and did some work that has given me an insight into the digital world.
You led the UK Post office through the pandemic. What lessons did you learn from that experience that will inform the way you lead Jersey Post?
I learnt a lot of things working through the pandemic. But one key thing I learnt was the value of people. You can have as many automations, machines, warehouses and vehicles you want. But fundamentally post offices connect citizens and the people on the counter understand what communities want and this can’t be underestimated. Also, there is a huge amount of knowledge in our postie’s heads and in terms of a crisis what they did for the community , helping support and connect vulnerable people through those awful times was incredible. I have heard some amazing stories of posties on the Island helping residents during the pandemic which are really inspirational. We are entering another period of change with recessionary challenges so for Jersey Post to be successful we have to remember to value our staff and continue helping local communities. Jersey Post is already a people first business and very much a community brand and that is something I’ m keen to maintain and develop.
How do you plan to deal with rising costs and the fallout from the war in Ukraine?
There are several aspects to this. Firstly, as a business recessions bring opportunities as well as risks, and we are well placed to make sure that we can be very selective about where our commercial investments are and how we can execute and gain some market share from some of our competitors, whether that’s back in the UK in our logistics and transportation business or in the US, with our mail business. Tim’s done a really good job with the acquisitions to ensure we are not just reliant on one business. This will help us through some difficult economic times and allow us to bring the earnings back to the citizens on the island and support the services that we need.
Secondly as an employer, we employ over 500 people on this island. we need to make sure that we are doubling up on listening to the challenges that our employees are going through – it can be tough on the family. We need to keep mental health and well-being at the forefront of our mind and support them.
Finally from a community perspective – we are serving around 110,000 people in the community. There’s inevitably going be some stress from an inflation point of view and we are going to do our utmost to be able to provide services at the very best value. And we also have the challenge of the island economy as we import the majority of our food and goods, we are reliant on importing from overseas. So, what we need to do is review the services that we’ve got today and see how we can expand those services for Islanders and ensure we don’t just have single service providers.
How would you describe your style of management?
I believe no one has a monopoly on wisdom; I haven’t got all the answers and I take on board other people’s opinions. For me it’s all about engaging and listening, being honest and not being afraid to be vulnerable.
I’m not particularly hierarchical which can be slightly annoying for some of my leadership on occasions I’m sure, but I like to get on the shop floor – that’s where a lot of answers are found. Those are the guys meeting our customers every day and they know what the customers want, what islanders want. So, part of our job is to listen to that information.
I don’t believe in in a bureaucratic directing style. Having said that, the buck stops with me and I’m quite happy to make difficult decisions and ensure we’re doing things right and focusing on the future.
The important thing is to ensure that we’re explaining why we’re making decisions and what the consequences of our decisions looks like.
How does your approach differ to Tim’s?
Tim had a really open and engaging leadership style which was fantastic but the main difference between me and Tim is that I see myself as a postman, as you can see, I don’t wear a shirt and tie unless I have to – I’m wearing the Jersey Post uniform! We’re all posties when it comes down to it, we’ve just all got different jobs in the business.
Jersey Post won 2 awards at the recent World Post & Parcel Awards in Dubai. How are you going to build on that success?
I think we’re punching above our weight and that’s fantastic to see to see our brand up front and see Tim getting recognised for what he has achieved here and what the teams have achieved under his leadership too. As for the future we’re going to focus on innovation and increasing our market share in a selective way.
About Mark Siviter
Mark joined Jersey Post as CEO on 1 June 2022. He has extensive experience of the global logistics and mail industry, working in the UK, Europe, and South Africa. His recent roles have included CEO of DHL Global Mail UK, Managing Director of DHL Global Mail Europe and more recently Managing Director, Mail and Retail, at the UK Post Office