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Virgin Active's Mark Field has moved from one success to another but now he is faced with a new challenge

By unknown | Jul 23, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Lihle Mtshali

Lihle Mtshali

Mark Field not only spends a lot of time in the boardroom but also on the treadmill, brainstorming on how to get more people flexing their muscles.

As the Virgin Active managing director Field's passion and stamina will have to be extended with the recent announcement of a R1,2billion expansion plan for the fitness chain's South African gyms over the next five years.

Since Virgin founder Richard Branson saved the defunct Health and Racquet Club in March 2001, which began the fitness rage in South Africa, more competitors such as Planet Fitness have entered the market and Virgin Active will have to be more innovative to retain and gain more members.

Field's plan to keep Virgin Active as one of the top players in the fitness game includes allowing his section managers to be captains of their ships and stimulating them to be passionate about the divisions they run.

Field was born in the UK in 1970 but his family relocated to Somerset West in Cape Town when he was four years old.

"I don't remember much about my childhood, but I was probably a naughty kid, running around making sure that nobody found out just how naughty I'd been," Field laughs.

After matriculating from Hottentots Holland High School, Field enrolled at the University of Cape Town where he completed a Bachelor of Commerce and a postgraduate diploma in accounting.

From an early age Field wanted to be in business. He noticed that most directors of companies were lawyers or accountants. Field decided that being a chartered accountant was good grounding for pursuing his dream.

His first job was at Deloitte & Touche, where he worked for three years completing his articles.

After articles, Field went to London where he worked as a financial manager, responsible for the Eastern European operations of a commodity trading company called the Man Group TLC.

After two years he was transferred to Australia where he stayed for a year before being transferred to Singapore.

"I had always wanted to come back to South Africa because I missed the sunshine, but all these other opportunities kept coming up," says Field.

In 2001 he joined Virgin Active as financial director. At the end of 2005, he took over as managing director.

Field says taking the company from ground zero to where it is today has been fantastic.


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