Mark Sebba (OH 62) - Originality
Take the time to watch the video of the send-off Mark Sebba was given by his colleagues as he stepped down from Net-A-Porter (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4u5VQlBENB8) and you will get a sense of why he has been described as ‘the world’s most loved CEO’.
Like many of our former pupils, his family had strong historic links with The Hall and both cousins from an earlier generation and nephews also came here. Mark was a boarder in his final year, staying in the dormitories which were at the top of the main school and are now classrooms. He particularly remembers the music teacher Margaret MacDonald for her enthusiasm for music and kindness to the pupils. Within his cohort there were many sons from distinguished families and he remains in close touch with his contemporary and fellow Hall pupil, David Neuberger, the President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.
For Mark, life really started after school. He trained as an accountant and spent part of his training for six months in Paris before going into Investment Banking in the City for 20 years. But this was just the start. In his mid-forties, he suddenly found himself out of job just as his third child was born. Out of necessity, he was forced to focus on what he really wanted to do which had always been to build a business with like-minded people.
During his 3 months’ notice period he focused on learning excel and getting his computer skills up to speed. This was key to landing his next job as Finance Director of Jazz FM. He worked with friends and helped to turn the company around and evolve it into what is now Smooth Radio.
He met Natalie Massenet (the founder of Net-A-Porter) through a former friend from the city. They got on immediately and she invited him to join the company as the CEO in 2003. From that time, the two of them gathered together an extraordinary group of talented people and created the huge success story that is now Net-A-Porter. He claims that their only disagreement was which of their respective previous worlds of fashion journalism or investment banking was the more vicious!
Mark now holds a number of non-executive positions including working as a Trustee of the V& A and chairman of its commercial arm - a source of huge pleasure and enjoyment for him. He is also Chairman of a Housing Association charity, The Hyde Group, and continues to help young people and advise several start-up companies.
He considers his greatest achievements to be:
- Finding a soul-mate and together building Net-A-Porter from a company of 40 to 2,500 employees
- changing the lives of many of the employees through the success of the company.
- Helping and advising young people to further their careers
In a characteristically modest way he is not sure he can offer any advice to our pupils but he does suggest some key things which have contributed to his own success: He didn’t find his school education easy, so he took learning very seriously and was always applied; He kept abreast of technology and made sure his computing skills were always up to date; he believes in friendship and working with like-minded people and derives much pleasure from helping and giving others opportunity.
We very much hope that Mark will be persuaded to come back to The Hall and speak to our current pupils and parents about his experiences as part of our Lecture series next year.