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Keep the drumbeat going: Mark Brewer

Mark Brewer is the President of Transportation Solutions at Conduent, following three decades of delivering rapid revenue growth and boosting customer satisfaction at technology companies around the world, often leading the turnaround of those businesses.

Mark Brewer, President of Transportation Solutions in Conduent

Today, he draws on his track record of past successes to lead a major division at one of the world’s largest providers of diversified business process services. Mark has been a driving force and catalyst at Conduent for the past two years, and he is now part of the leadership powering the company’s turnaround.

After studying systems design and mathematics at the University of the West of England in Bristol, Mark launched his career as an engineer for IBM, where he would work his way up and take on increasing responsibility for the better part of the next two decades.

In Atlanta, he ran a billion-dollar petroleum and chemical business. In Washington DC, he led one of IBM’s largest divisions, which dealt with retail, consumer products, transportation and travel.

Then for three years, he ran Global Technology Services for IBM in Australia and New Zealand – a US$2 billion (€1.7 billion) business with 4,500 employees providing cloud business, strategic outsourcing and integrated technology services to businesses throughout the region.

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“Each one of these roles in the run-up to moving to Australia was in a division of IBM that was either declining in revenue or had client satisfaction issues so, over the years, I built up the skills to be a turnaround guy,” Mark says.

“That’s one of the reasons I opted for these different assignments.” With each new assignment, many in different countries, Mark revelled in the chance to learn about a new culture and understand how people work. He developed a keen ability to adeptly navigate different places and transition to new cultures.

“What I’d learned about myself quite early on in my career was that I’m stimulated by problem-solving, prioritising on the fly based upon the situation of the day, complexity and having lots of balls in the air,” he says. “This is what drove me to live and work in different places.”

Mark’s abiding thirst for a challenge is what eventually brought him to Conduent in 2019. The company provides business services, including transaction processing, automation, analytics and constituent experience, to government and commercial customers in 22 countries. It has an annual revenue of around US$4 billion (€3.3 billion).

“The way I look at Conduent is we’re really a big startup with a turnaround objective in mind,” Mark explains. “What I was excited about as I joined the company was working with a new CEO and a senior leadership team that was all new to me. It was an opportunity to be both part of a success story and an opportunity to build a world-class team while serving our clients.

“I thought this was a good fit because it would utilise the skills that I’d developed over the years having lived in different cultures, having served different clients with different challenges that they were trying to solve, and building a team along the way that would leave a legacy going forward.”

With the confidence of Conduent CEO Cliff Skelton, Mark runs the Transportation Solutions division. The role requires creating a strategy and a vision for the division that aligns with Conduent’s corporate objectives and growth targets, and also resonates with the company’s many clients.

To expand the company’s focus on driving customer success, Mark was also tasked to lead the largest global accounts across Conduent’s portfolio. “We need to deliver both the technology and the operations in support of our global industries, and implement a repeatable operational governance that allows us to talk to our clients at multiple levels and solve problems with them,” he says.

Mark’s transportation team is also responsible for innovating and managing products that allow them to deliver the services their clients need. His technology and operations teams develop patents that ensure Conduent maintains relevance in the industries they operate, while helping clients leverage those patents to give them the opportunities to operate more efficiently.

We make sure we talk to our clients at every level – from senior executives to the operational layer to the technology layer – and deliver on our promises and communicate frequently.

Beyond delivering revenue and serving current clients, Mark and his team must also develop tools and processes in anticipation of future client needs. “It’s important that I develop a strategy that provides for futureproofing the business, such that we have the relevant and consumable services for the industry over the short-, mediumand long-term,” he reveals.

Conduent’s transportation division offers solutions for public safety, transit, kerbside management and road usage charging.“It’s really a people and technology business,” Mark says.

“Our strategic advantage is that we are strongly diversified globally across tolling, transit, kerbside management and public safety, so that gives us a unique positioning in the marketplace compared to our competitors.”

Conduent is an American-owned global technology and business process services company headquartered in New Jersey. It was formed in 2017 as a divestiture from Xerox. The company offers digital platforms and solutions for businesses and governments. It has 64,000 employees in 22 countries.

Conduent’s transportation business has been operating for more than 50 years and currently serves about 300 clients in more than 20 countries, including managing 46% of electronic tolling systems in the US – a total of 1,800 toll lanes, plus back-office systems and service centres.

“That’s around four billion toll transactions that we process every year,” Mark says. If Conduent’s tolling solutions help manage city traffic flows by limiting the number of cars that can enter, its kerbside management solutions produce a similar effect by making parking simpler.

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The company manages 48% of American parking systems, with clients in nearly half of the 20 largest US cities. To promote public safety, Conduent deploys advanced analytics and video technologies to harvest the data policymakers need to decide how best to keep people safe near schools, around construction sites and at intersections.

One out of four American public safety enforcement systems are implemented by Conduent. In public transit, the company is well positioned across the globe, offering flexible passenger payment and other intelligent transportation systems to make transit safer, faster and more reliable.

Its contactless solutions for fare collection and ticket validation are of particular importance amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has increased the demand for effective and convenient technologies that limit human interactions. With top-of-the-line products like these, Mark is leading Conduent’s expansion across Europe and South America.

“This is where I see our future opportunities,” he shares. Until recently, Mark also led Conduent’s government services division, which included solutions for payments, child support, health care, eligibility and enrolment, labour and case management before that division evolved into a separate business.

In that capacity, Mark orchestrated a major turnaround, which was crucial to Conduent’s ability to meet the needs precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. When Mark joined the division, revenue was challenged, and Conduent needed new ways of ensuring client satisfaction.

Mark stepped up to the plate, successfully setting up more robust systems for communication between his team and their clients. “We make sure we talk to our clients at every level – from senior executives to the operational layer to the technology layer – and deliver on our promises and communicate frequently,” he says.

Our real strategic advantage is that we are strongly diversified globally across tolling, transit, kerbside management and public safety.

“If there’s an opportunity we need to accelerate, we should communicate that; but also, if we see roadblocks that may cause issues in delivering a service, we need to communicate that rapidly.”

This improved culture of communication has enabled Conduent to pursue its growth strategy by not only seeking new clients and streams of revenue, but also keeping opportunities flowing from existing clients and ensuring that their satisfaction improves over time.

“Being able to extend our capabilities into new capabilities and adjacent spaces is really important, but actually keeping your current clients is just as important. We’ve worked hard to renew business with clients that we’ve had for a long time, and that’s essential to our growth going forwards,” Mark says.

Key recent renewals were with the New York State tolling agencies, with the City of Santa Monica, for kerbside management services, and with the Australian Public Transport Authority to pilot a contactless open payment system for trams in Adelaide.

Meanwhile, Conduent won a new contract to implement a next-generation fare collection system in Flanders, Belgium, for the Flemish public transport company De Lijn.

“What’s exciting about this is that it serves a population of six and a half million Flemish residents in the first phase of the implementation, which will be completed in about a year,” Mark says.

“It enables the use of contactless bank cards based on cEMV contactless ticketing technology.” Conduent’s technology will be rolled out in 10,000 bus and tram terminals across Flanders, making it the largest region in Europe with a contactless fare collection support system.

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In the northern Italian city of Brescia, Mark and his team have implemented another contactless payment and ticketing system that is compatible with all kinds of credit and debit cards, as well as smartphones and smartwatches. The wins go on and on.

“Recently, we signed a very large contract to be the tolling lanes integrator for what is a large tolling opportunity in Ohio,” he says.

“That’s a major win for us as well.” The contract will have Conduent modernise and maintain the toll collection system on the 241-mile (388-kilometre) Ohio Turnpike, which is the one of the longest running toll roads in the US.

However, this surge in new and renewed business comes with its own set of complications in the form of COVID-19. Mark attributes the success of his growth strategy to his ability to “keep the drumbeat going” – to mobilise the thousands of people who work under his leadership to advance towards the same goal.

We’re really a big startup with a turnaround objective in mind.

“I’m very happy to say that the time I’ve spent with the team developing a values-based culture has really helped me ensure my leadership team is all on the same page and working collaboratively,” he says.

But with lockdowns in place throughout the world and people working from the relative safety of their homes, keeping the drumbeat going has begun to require additional care and effort, changing the face of global leadership. “We’re not meeting face to face. We’re meeting on video,” Mark reflects.

“So how do I keep my team’s head in the game? And how do they keep their teams’ heads in the game?” One part of the solution he devised was to create a system for managers and their staff to express concerns, seek advice and get feelings off their chests regarding the difficulties of working from home and meeting clients’ needs remotely.

He initiated a weekly call with all 340 of his managers to give them a chance to speak their minds. These initiatives resulted in an atmosphere of empathy that has reduced the stress and uncertainty stemming from the pandemic.

“These calls transitioned quickly into sessions where people compliment and thank their colleagues around the world, which has really motivated everyone to keep excelling in their day jobs,” Mark says.

“It was very humbling to see a leadership team, which was used to meeting in the offices, move to a virtual world and quickly stand up, be empathetic and deliver to our clients’ requirements.”

Now, as countries are hopefully turning the corner on COVID-19, Mark is committed more than ever to continuing client success, further enhancing governance and eyeing global expansion.

“With a record pipeline of opportunities, we remain very excited for the future, setting our sights on growing Conduent and providing transportation clients around the world with end-to-end solutions,” he says.

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