Working with Intention: Meet Mark Halmrast
Mark Halmrast has worked in business operations and management consulting for more than 20 years, specializing in business improvement and customer experience. Mark’s superpowers are listening, simplifying and delivering practical strategies and tangible results that move businesses forward.
Today, Mark is a Senior Solution Consultant for the Aeritae Customer Experience Management practice, helping clients deliver exceptional experiences for their own customers through people, process and technology expertise.
Below, Mark shares some insight on what drew him to this line of work and the three pivotal “mailroom moments” that defined his work mission.
When I entered the workforce, I was finishing college after having first served in an airborne unit of the US Army. As I completed my studies I worked as a driver for a major air express carrier.
Through my daily rounds, I was now coming into contact with 50 businesses each day. I noticed that some organizations just felt different from others. I wondered why but never really got close enough to figure it out. Eventually I was hired on in the mailroom of one of these major corporations – a highly regarded global enterprise. From this front-row seat, I could now observe all the parts of the business up close.
My work area was located across from a core operational team. And here’s where my first pivotal moment occurred, observing this daily rhythm:
|6:00–8:00 AM:||Leaders arrived early to attend to emails & voicemails from frustrated customers and frustrated field reps.|
|The production team arrived and started the normal work day.|
|8:00 AM–5:00 PM:
|Leaders spent most of their day split between meetings and addressing urgent situations, fires, and various crises. The production team went about business as usual.|
|5:00 PM:||The production team went home for the day.|
|6:00–8:00 PM:||Leaders stayed late to attend to emails & voicemails from frustrated customers and frustrated field reps.|
I asked myself, “Who would want that? Who would want to be a leader in this organization?” Secondarily, I wondered: Why are there so many issues? Why do customers continue to do business with us? Isn’t there some way to get ahead of all this?
From my mailroom position, I was eventually promoted up into the business. One of my fellow mailroom employees was an exceptionally quiet man named Bill. Bill kept to himself and went about his business of delivering mail to employees every day.
Not long after I had moved to my desk job, Bill stopped by my cubicle one afternoon and just started talking. He talked about his time serving in World War II and shared some deeply personal and moving experiences. I was honored that he chose to share his story with me, but even more so, I was struck by the realization that Bill was actually a hero. He wasn’t defined by his role as a mailroom clerk. In spite of what others saw – a mailroom clerk – I saw a hero, and it struck me that I was surrounded by others who, job title aside, were heroes to someone.
My third pivotal moment came years later when I was given the chance to manage a large operation with sites across the globe, including a front-line data entry team. The team was made up of about 40 people and was locked off on a specific floor of the building for security reasons. I stopped by to meet this team the first Friday after taking the position and was asked to say a few words. I started to talk about my previous pivotal moments (see above) and several people started to cry. Alarmed, I stopped and asked, “OK, what’s going on here guys?”
One of the employees looked at me and said, “Your predecessor oversaw this team for 5 years, during which time, he came up to this floor, once…to announce layoffs.” I took that as an opportunity to reinforce the truths that I had learned and held on to: every person has inherent, infinite value; everyone is a hero to someone, no matter the corporate title or role. Everyone.
Those moments and experiences have shaped my career. I have spent 20 years focused on how I could help leaders change how work gets done—and searching for those ways of doing business that would create better experiences and outcomes for customers, employees, and shareholders.