Life lessons

Young professionals from Aberdeen have the chance to learn from the best at this year’s Aberdeen Young Professionals ball.

The Aberdeen Young Professionals (AYP) ball is marked in the diaries of several local entrepreneurs, including 44-year-old Mark Kemp. Mark will be attending the glamorous AYP event this March as one of the panel members, along with Mechelle Clark from Melt and Foodie Quine Claire Jessiman. Hosting and chairing will be E4 Made in Chelsea’s Francis Boulle, who is an entrepreneur as well as a familiar face on the television.

AYP regularly hold events, including discussion series, networking events, social meet-ups and the popular AYP ball offering workers in and around the city valuable support and networking opportunities. Last year, AYP introduced their successful mentor scheme and awards for this will take place during the ball.

The plans all sound very exciting, but what has Mark done during his career to earn him a spot on this illustrious panel? Perhaps it was becoming a director and shareholder of a local brand agency and working in the design industry for more than 20 years? Maybe it was starting out on his own and becoming the founder and director of FortyTwo Studio a little over two years ago? Or is it his business drive which has put the Aberdonian at the heart of the networking event and awards ceremony?

What is your average day like?

Really there is no such thing as an average day. We work across such a diverse range of sectors and clients, every day can be very different. As director of the company though, my week is generally split between running the business, working with the team on ongoing projects, meeting new and existing clients as well as spending my time with some of the organisations I like to be involved with including Elevator and AGCC. With our client base expanding beyond Aberdeen, I also spend some time around the country.

 What skills do you use at work?

I’m still a designer at heart – though don’t have as much time to be on the tools as I used to – so I still get involved across our brand and digital development projects when needed but more at a conceptual level or as a sounding board with the team. But increasingly I find that by talking about my experience within brand strategy and development, I’m able to help a whole host of companies and individuals – whether clients or not. I’m also a bit of a process geek, which really helps ensure you keep track 
of projects, business development and the finances of the company.

Why were you asked to be on the AYP panel?

I got involved in 2016 and received mentorship myself. I found it very valuable and have since tried to help out myself by providing mentoring through other organisations. I’ve also been pretty active within the recent Vanguard initiative launched by Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce. I’d imagine my involvement has been noticed.

What advice would you give to young people deciding on what career path to follow?

We don’t all have the luxury of exactly knowing what we are going to do when we are older. However, even if you are unsure that a particular opportunity or path is for you, give it 100% – really go for it. Whatever the role, whatever the industry, look to become invaluable to your colleagues. Take responsibility, in fact, demand responsibility and don’t worry about stepping on toes – you’ll soon be told. Being invaluable to those around you, in whatever way that is, is the best way to assure your future success and development.

The contacts and alliances you make now are the ones you’ll look to in the years to come, so be aware that even at the start of your career, you are building a foundation of people – suppliers, clients, collaborators – that will become vital to your future career development, whatever the industry.

What do you get up to outside of work?

I’ve two boys – 11 and eight – so my wife Kirsty and I tend to spend most of our spare time doing stuff with them. They are also at the age where we find ourselves taxiing them around places – football, scouts, friends and so on. So spare time is a luxury for us but we wouldn’t have it any other way. When we do have time off, good food, wine and company is pretty much all we need.

What would you do to improve the economy of Aberdeen?

There are a lot of initiatives that are currently doing a lot of good work to help this already, however more must be done to assure our future prosperity and it starts with start-ups and new companies entering growth stages.Mark

Providing a better platform for such companies, then getting out of their way to do it. Cheaper and more accessible shared working spaces would help start-ups collaborate and grow in a more nurturing and supportive environment. If we want Aberdeen’s economy to continue its diversification, the council and related organisations must look to encourage and not strangle innovation through their planning/licensing procedures – look at what Aberdeen has done over the past three years WITHOUT such full-throated support, imagine what we could achieve if we were all pointing in the right direction.

Is it important to help and guide young people in the workplace?

Vital. These are not just ‘young people’, they are the business leaders of the future. By involving them now, guiding them when appropriate, we are guaranteeing our future. We must look to do the best we can for young school leavers and 
graduates so we retain the best talent we have. For too long, Aberdeen has seen a huge amount of graduates leave for pastures new – we must halt this tide.

 Did you have anyone to guide you?

Not one person but I have been fortunate to work with a huge amount of talented people over the years. I’m a bit of a magpie, so have taken on board so much insight and knowledge over the years. Sometimes you didn’t know how much until you actually need it. It’s fair to say I’ve also learned from many mistakes I and others have made over the years.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?

Simple, the people I work with. How the company is moulded is so reliant on the work we do and how we do it – the guys in the team do this every day. Without their abilities, no amount of planning would matter. Any success we have is down to who we are as people and as a team – what is more influential than that?

If you could change one thing about your career, what would it be?

Nothing. I’m where I am now and I love it.

Your biggest life lesson?

You learn more from adversity than from success. It’s rough at the times but I know that I learned more about my industry, business, people and myself when going through certain challenges over the years than at any other time. The tools created during these adverse times in life, are what you need to succeed later on. It’s difficult to see it at the time but believe me, there is gold in them there hills.

The Aberdeen Young Professionals Ball takes place on March 2 at the Doubletree by Hilton Treetops, Aberdeen. Tickets include welcome drinks, three-course meal, panel discussion, networking, live entertainment and much more, hosted by international entrepreneur and Made in Chelsea star Francis Boulle.

Tickets are available from

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