Mark Hawkins, Head of Business Systems IN/SEA/OCE/TH at Puma, talks to The Ortus Club’s Raisa Becke about his role as the integrator of strategies to improve company operations and achieve business goals.
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Can you give us a one-sentence description of your company?
Puma is the third-largest sportswear company globally, which designs and manufactures athletic and casual footwear, apparel, and accessories.
Can you describe the role of a Head of Business Systems in one word? Why?
Business Systems. It involves all of the systems that help run a business on a day-to-day basis. So it’s not the infrastructure. It’s not the technology. It’s all the systems that drive all of an organisation’s components daily.
What current challenges is the Head of Business Systems facing right now? Can you identify a solution?
As a large global company with a long history, one of the many challenges I see is to unify the systems that we are still using and adapt them to the specific needs of each business region. As the Head of Business Systems, I take all the areas I control and bring them to a brand-new point of sale (POS) system.
The main goal is to provide FEMA with an actual omnichannel business. Puma is an omnichannel, meaning we serve multiple markets directly to consumers and wholesale customers. Because our systems are legacy, we are not a true omnichannel. We communicate with each other, but it does not mean we are using one foundation. So, we want systems to be adept and agile.
How do you explain the success you’ve had in your career?
My success comes from my strong background in business management and processes. I understand business technology, but I also know who it serves. So, I make sure that we are achieving business goals with the help of the other business departments. I always ask myself if the new technologies help improve the current system.
“Remember who your customers are. That will make it easier for you to determine if they will be a business benefit or risk.”
Can you tell us about a time you took a major risk in your career?
I think I take significant risks all the time. Initially, I was comfortable in Australia, taking over a much smaller market because of its geographical location and population. Then, as I took my first role here in Southeast Asia, it became challenging to work with multiple regions in different countries. In addition, the business systems and the entire landscape were vastly different, with more mature markets and newer business models. Overall, I had to deliver more and take on more risks.
How can you see your role evolving in the next two to three years?
The market is currently evolving at a lightning-fast pace. But, ultimately, we always get to reach our customers. For the last couple of years, the whole e-commerce industry has exploded. And although it’s practical, it’s not the only method to reach your customers. We can use social media marketing, commerce, and all available platforms.
I see my role evolving to adapt to the other methods of reaching customers. So, we’ll evaluate and try those opportunities as soon as they arrive. But, we have to prepare the business to use that in the current market. So, we need to be flexible, quick, and adapt, which is one of the biggest challenges of a global company.
What career advice would you like to share with other Heads of Business Systems?
Remember who your customers are. When you know who they are, you’ll have an easier time making decisions, evaluating risks, and rewarding them based on how much they will benefit the business or not.