Tales from the Departure Lounge

#38 Tales from the Departure Lounge LIVE with Mark Pettitt

March 31, 2024 Andy Plant & Nick Cuthbert Season 3 Episode 38
Tales from the Departure Lounge
#38 Tales from the Departure Lounge LIVE with Mark Pettitt
Show Notes Transcript

London calling! Andy and Nick took to the stage at The PIE Live Europe '24 to record a live episode with Mark Pettitt, founder of Edified. Mark takes us on a magical mystery tour of his life adventures starting in 1970's New Zealand via Russia, Colombia and his home in Australia. 

Expect strong language (so much so we had to get the bleep machine out), hotel-based nudity, double entendre and straight up - no dickheads allowed! What's Mot go? Mot's got the lot! And so has this special episode of TFTDL Live. 

Final boarding call: Motueka, New Zealand

The PIE Live Europe will return in 2025! Check out www.thepielive.com for details including dates, speakers and sponsorship opportunities. 

Tales from the Departure Lounge is a Type Nine production for The PIE www.thepienews.com

Live Recording:

testing the mics. Hello. Hello. 12121212. we go.

Nick:

Welcome to Tales from the Departure Lounge. This is a podcast about travel for business, for pleasure, or for study. My name's Nick and I'm joined by my co-pilot, Andy. And together we're gonna be talking to some amazing guests about how travel has transformed their. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the journey. Welcome to the podcast.

Live Recording:

Welcome, welcome, welcome. We're live in London, and we're very honored today to be joined by a special guest, Mark Petty. He's the co founder of Edified and CEO there. Everyone give him a round of applause, please. Mark, welcome to the show. The first question we always ask our guests is If you could take our audience anywhere in the world today, where would it be and why? I want to take you all to a place which is geographically pretty much as far as you can be from where we are now. And time wise, pretty much as far back as I can go. So literally, last century, last millennium. And this place is New Zealand, to my hometown in the 70s, when I was growing up. my hometown is called Motueka, at least that's what we used to call it. And then when Maori language became really important, it changed its name to Motueka. But my friends and I, we used to call it Mot. just straight old Mott. And we came up with a little jingle, a little, travel promo would you like to hear it? Yeah. Yeah. It didn't have a tune. It was just, it was really simple. It was just, what's Mott got? Mott's got the lot, Not, not a lot. Not a lot. It's got the lot. And in the seventies in New Zealand. It was very different, country and different place than it is now. But if you can imagine, if you take British culture and take out, Everything that's good about it, or everything that's interesting about it. take out Scottishness, take out Irishness, take out Cornishness, take out Welshness, take out arts, culture, literature, Shakespeare, music, just take all of that away and just dump it in another country. That's what, that's what my hometown was like. What are we left with here? Left with just tea, beer, cricket and rugby. Okay. That's it, it was a very stark Very monocultural, kind of place. it is transformed beyond recognition now, But, although it was very stark, it was very kind of mystic childhood. lots of running around in bare feet, chasing sheep, swimming in rivers, picking apples, it was really lovely time. This is very nostalgic but you were really the The odd kid at school as well. Yeah. Tell us why. So my parents are English and my mum her parents had escaped from Nazi Austria in 1938 So she was brought up in London in a German speaking house And she was very European kind of swimming in the nude that sort of stuff and and my dad was From England. He was very English, but kind of a hippie and so they met in Cambridge, so they're very educated. And most people in my hometown were like, they're either farmers or kind of crystal gazing, lowbrow hippies, I'd say, chakra worshiping hippies, but not intellectual hippies, just kind of farming hippies. so I was from a very educated family and none of my friends, parents had gone to university or even probably had any higher education. So I always felt a bit different because I was the one who, in the whole village who'd ever been overseas. So it's just a, it's a very different time. Yeah. You're riding pigs and pointing planes. Yeah, that's right. Perfect. So fast forward then, how do we get to here on this stage? you met your wife in Russia, I believe you were there in the early days of IDP and recruiting with them. You were kind of, we were often referred to the wild west. Worked for IDP. Oh, no. I just visited their offices. See, I would edit this out. I can't edit this out. My research is terrible. Okay. You went to an IDP office in Russia. What's that? No, we got that wrong as well. You went to an IDP office. Yes, so, so I did, I did meet my wife in Russia in a very small, a small city called Rostov on Don. I guess it was kind of Russia's answer to Mott. And I, I was always fascinated with Russia. when I was a kid, I read cause I read books cause my parents read books. Um, I read, Animal Farm. And that just burn something into my mind. And I was fascinated by Russian culture. When I was 10, I wrote to the Russian embassy and said, could they please send me some more information? And they sent me these little booklets on, Engels and Marx and communism. I'm, I'm, I'm probably on their database somewhere. Sleeper. And then many years later when I was traveling around the world, I was actually in Edinburgh. And I just sort of run out of money, run out of ideas, run out of things to do. And I thought, I'm going to see if I can go to Russia. And I found this English language training course that you could do in a weekend. so I did that and then I answered an ad in a, in a newspaper and it said, do you want to teach English in Russia? And I said, yep, I do. And I went for this interview and the guy said, Oh, I suppose you want to go to Moscow. I was like, no. His eyes lit up, he's like, oh wow, somebody wants to go somewhere else. And he said, what about this place called Rostov on Don? Do you want to know about it? I said, no, sounds good. And so I went there, and I was the only English speaking person, I think, there. And then, because I was so amazing at teaching, they had more students coming in. And, long story, I'll save this story for another time, but my wife came out, I didn't know that she was my wife then, and, um, we ended up, sharing a flat together, and then, I guess you'd say nature took its course, um, maybe because we were the only people who could understand each other. It does narrow it down a little bit, yeah. And this was, this I guess was the, the wild west of international student recruitment. Well, this is, this is before I'd. Even knew what an international student was. So this is 1995. Russia was very different. Like New Zealand was, and this was halfway between communism and capitalism. everything that was good about communism had gone and nothing that was good about capitalism had arrived. So it was very bleak. It was the coldest winter they'd had in a hundred years. It was like snowbound the whole time you could, there was a few food queues and, anyway, lots of time to get to know someone special. Which is what we did, and we're still together. So you're teaching English. And then you moved into recruitment events for these institutions. How did you make that step? My note here is about an IDP event in Colombia. Okay, we'll come to that. That's a good one. Got a little bit of time to go. So, after Russia, my girlfriend, um, we weren't married then, we just kind of bummed around Europe teaching English, just finding our jobs and, backpacking, doing that kind of thing. And then we were in Turkey and it was a really cold winter. And she said, why don't we go to Perth for the summer? We'll just get some summer jobs and then we'll travel again. And I thought, yeah, sounds right. I went there and. 25 years later, I'm still in Australia and we never went back. but when I got there, it's sort of the only job I could do was teach English. And I got quite lucky and I got a job at Curtin university in the English language department, and then trawling up and down my corridor every few weeks would be somebody with a suitcase heading off somewhere and I was like, who are those guys, that seems really cool. so When we decided we wanted to go and live in Melbourne. And when I went there, I started work at Swinburne University. I was actually teaching international students, teaching them marketing. Cause that's what I studied at university. And out of that job, I got seconded into the international office. And that's where I started. Okay. Where does IDP come in? Okay, so you can edit this, you can edit this, this next thing that I'm going to tell you out for sure. Oh no, so it's a little bit political. So I got it. I got a job in the TAFE international office. So TAFE is like Polytech. So in the university I was at, they had multi sector, so TAFE and university. And I got a job in the TAFE international office, but there was also a university international office. So they were rival offices. So kind of doing their own thing and they really hated each other. And, and my boss was planning a big trip to South America. And I was sitting in this meeting that all the people there were all just, you know, listening attentively. And she said, I've got some secret information about what's been happening in the other international office. And I've got an informer and, um, she's been telling me everything that's been going on there. Okay, this sounds interesting. And then she said, yeah, I've, I'm giving her a code name. I said, okay. her code name is What, what? And I just didn't know where to look. And I was only like 28 or something. And I just sort of sat there waiting for it to end. Nobody said anything. Nobody said, you can't say that. Or that's just weird. Anyway, a couple of weeks later, she came into the meeting and said, Oh, everything's fallen apart with and that trip that I'm planning, um, I'm not going to do it. And she said Oh, Mark, can you go on that trip? And that's how I got started. That was my, I got inducted into international education. Fantastic. Right. Should we move? Let's move on. Let's move on to Columbia. Oh, go on then, let's have Columbia while we're there. So the very first trip I went on was to Columbia. And IDP had just set up their office. And IDP was a different organisation then, it was kind of pseudo government. And I, I don't know if there's anyone here who was around then, so I'm not going to mention any names. But there was a couple that were running the office there. And the, the rumour was, and I don't know if this is true, so, Full disclaimer. The rumor was that they'd both been expelled from Canberra and they couldn't think of anything else to do with them. So they sent them to Columbia to look after the IDP office. This is well before it sold and it was a good commercial. So I turned up in Columbia and it was a real eye opener for me. I couldn't believe, cause I was sort of the master of budget travel. And I couldn't believe that I could go to a country and actually stay in a hotel. It was like, just the best thing ever. So I was hanging around with the IDP people. They had this huge event. there was an, there was an agent that I met there who had his recruitment office downstairs and he was a doctor and he had a sex clinic upstairs. It was a bit of an eye opener for me. anyway, somehow IDP arranged for a TV, presentation about Australian education. I said, okay, everyone, we're going to go to the TV station. And about five minutes before it started, I thought I was just going to watch. They said, Oh, we need someone to talk about MBAs in Australia. And sort of, Oh, you. Can you do it? I was like, I don't even, I don't even know anything about, I just arrived. so I had to learn very quickly and I had five minutes to find out how MBAs work. And I, it's emblazoned on my mind. So ask away. Think on your feet. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. That was a magical mystery to all that. This is the awkward bit where we're going to play the jingle and listen to Andy rap whilst he sat here. So, okay. Actually I'm gonna sing. Are you gonna Course not. Ah, that's awkward, isn't it? So the next section of the podcast is called Any Laptops, liquids, or sharp Objects. What are your travel hacks, mark, and what do you have to take with you? Okay, three things. Uh, number one, I always carry a toothbrush and toothpaste. And brush my teeth at least three or four times while I'm at a conference. So if you see me going to the toilet, it's not to go to the toilets, it's to brush my teeth. Is that because of bad feedback or is that just? No, my wife's really big on brushing her teeth. It's just, I just kind of absorbed it and it just makes me feel comfortable. You get coffee and tea and bits of biscuit. but the, the look of brushing your teeth in the toilets every, how often do you do it? At least three times. It's not a great look, is it? No, I just, no, I have a theory and it's about embarrassment and the distribution of embarrassment. if there's an embarrassing situation, like someone walks in on you naked, for example. If you refuse to be embarrassed, they start to get embarrassed. So if I just confidently brush my teeth, as if it's really normal, everyone goes, but they don't think, they don't think I'm weird, they sort of think they're weird. Confidence, style it out. Exactly. So that's number one. Number two, I always take one of these, PowerPack, for my phone. You just can't live without your phone. I mean, you're gone. So this is the charger. It's very product placement, isn't it? This is the, this is the one you want. you know, you can't, you can't pay for anything. You can't call anyone. You can't get into your room. So that's the other one. And my main travel hack is I always take, I always take one of these and I brought it along, actually not for product placement, because I was explaining to someone what it is. I said, it's a four point plug. And they're like, well, what is it? So I didn't know what it was called in the UK. I was asking around and I was explaining it to someone and someone said, Oh yeah, that's a gangbang. What? That can't be right. And she said, No, no, my friends told me. I don't think they're your friends. I'm not sure it is. Yeah, I don't think it's called that. And you've got, uh, multiple passports as well. I understand. Yes. Yeah. So I've got four passports. Jason Bourne. Jason Bourne. I was, my parents English. So British citizenship. I was born in Australia. So that's how I got that. And then naturalized New Zealander. And then just after Brexit, when I lost my European passport, because Britain was no longer in it, Austria changed their laws and made, all descendants of displaced, citizens could apply for citizenship. So I did. But you can't collect more passports because Austria prevents that. Yeah. So if I get one more, I've got to give back the Austrian one. Which is the EU one. Which is the EU one. So that's not going to happen. Yeah. we've talked about this on the show already. Is it illegal to carry more than one passport when you're going through certain countries? Mark thinks not. Anybody else had any problems carrying multiple passports? Yeah, that's right. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. The podcast isn't going to pick that up. I heard it was, China maybe? I don't know, they think you're a spy. They think you are Jason Bourne. it's not really, a recording without talking about a naked man story. So, sort of hoping you wouldn't bring this one up. Well, that's why we brought it up. Okay. So, um, I was at a conference. I went out for the evening, and it wasn't a big night, so it wasn't a really drunken night. I came back to my hotel room, and I don't know if you're the same, but sometimes it was warm and I slept in the nude. And I got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. And you can probably already sense where this is going. And um, opened the door. Oh, who turned the light on in the bathroom? And then I realized I was outside in the corridor. And so I did what I did. Anyone would do and just kind of, you know, bang the door like for a long time hoping that something would change And nothing changed. So I thought Sort of muttering to myself I went down the elevator elevators like mirrors and lights horrific and Got down to the bottom and I sort of look around the corner And there, it seemed like 200 meters away. I don't know how far it was, but it was the brightly lit atrium to the reception. Yeah. With like, you know, three nice ladies. Uh, and I thought You hadn't picked up a plant pot or something? Yeah, I, I didn't, I wasn't thinking straight, so I thought, I'm going to go back upstairs and try again. So, I went back upstairs, banged the door, nothing's happening. And then I was sort of stealing myself for the, for the long, lonely walk. And I went downstairs, and I came out of the lift, and I was just about to go around this corner. And from that corner, this little guy turned up. And he didn't even look at me. He just had this bunch of keys. And I knew what to do. You knew why he was there? I knew why he was there. He didn't look me in the eye and I just followed him up, followed him up to my room and he just let me in. Happens, happens to him. I'm probably on some YouTube video somewhere. Yeah. It happens to him every night, doesn't it? Yeah, I'm sure every night he's, he's the guy. So I know you've listened to the podcast, This is a reoccurring theme. Of naked man wandering around hotels. Okay. We have Rachel McSween in the audience, who actually told this story of a naked man banging on a door. Okay, well. Rachel, is this It might have been me! um, Mark, you may have to take your clothes off so we can identify you. Be identified. And skulk. by show of hands, how many women have had a naked person bang Bang on their hotel door or wonder the hotel that you weren't expecting. It's three. Well, I could only have been one of them. So when you said earlier about brushing your teeth and styling it out. As if you were naked, you were just going to saunter across the hotel reception. No, like it was normal. I was going to ask by show of hands, men locked out. Oh, there was a half a hand. Jump the gun. Brave, brave, Was he in uniform? Yeah, I don't think that's the same thing is it that's just someone trying to get in your room True it's time for another mortifying jingle. The next section of the podcast is called What's the purpose of your visit? why do you do what you do, mark? Well, I always, For pretty much my entire professional career, I had a life before that, through my twenties. There's nothing on my CV from those days. But, for my entire professional career I've been involved somehow in education. And I just really love education. of all the sort of human endeavors, I think it's the, it's, it's the most uniquely human. when you get education, it helps everyone around you. It helps you, it even helps the person who's taught you. it's completely carbon neutral. Nobody's died of too much education. There doesn't seem to be a limit to how much people can learn. if you have a car and you sell it, you have one less car. But when you have knowledge and skills and you impart them, you don't have less, you've actually had more. You've sort of ennobled yourself. So, I just love it and I, I think that people who are educated and people who are around educated people, people who are going through the process of learning, whatever level it is. It just makes everybody's lives better. It improves their, their career. It improves their happiness. It improves their health. So I think fundamentally, whatever, education, you can always feel good about the underlying business. So I was always attracted to education fundamentally because of that. What about the, the people involved in, in education? You've got a room full of them, so be careful. Yeah, well, um, we might come to sort of one of our edified policies later, but. The thing that has always struck me about the education world or the world that we're in is just how many amazing people there are, who are engaged in this. And that's kind of code for, um, there's very, very few dickheads in our business. It's like an amazing shortage. Well, maybe shortage isn't the right word, but If you, if you think about, banking or real estate or, um, Big business is like a surplus of dickhead. And in our business, I can literally count them on one finger. I mean, define, define dickhead. What are these characteristics? Uh, I think people who are selfish, uh, vain, incurious, people who talk about themselves too much. By the way, I'm aware that I'm talking entirely about myself. people who don't want to be in a team, people who put themselves before others. I think that's the fundamental. Yeah. We're podcast dickheads, aren't we? Yeah, exactly. Right. You may as well talk about it now. So you've got your own business in Edified. Yeah. And one of the great benefits of this is the hiring policy and building a team. Tell us more about that guiding principle. Yeah. So I've worked in universities and TAFEs, they're like polytechs and then worked in the private sector. And I, I, I was working in a company, I was a shareholder, I sold that. And I had the luxury of having a year off to think about my future and I had lots of different ideas. but one thing that was. the fundamental is I just wanted to work with really great people, smart, curious, interesting, dynamic, fun, happy people. And so the sort of fundamental tenet of setting up Edified was bringing a group of people together like that. And again, that's code for, no dickheads allowed in Edified. So if you're in Edified, and if, and that applies to our clients as well, like we've Don't want to work with clients who are, you know, nasty or, selfish, self centered. So, if you're one of our clients, you're also not a dickhead. Uh, and, yeah, so that was the sort of underlying Reason for wanting to set it up that way. Hmm. I'm just thinking about the awkward situation now of people who you interviewed and didn't give the job, right? A show of hands. I'm just not going to say anything. I think I can, I can, I can count the number of dickheads in this sector on one finger. So just cause they didn't get a job doesn't mean they're a dickhead. for context, obviously Edified has a presence in the UK, people hearing about it. You're living in Australia, Give us a view of why Edified was created and also your perspective that's different to people in this room, that you get this truly global perspective of what's going on. Edified, we, we help, I don't want to make it a plug about us, but we, but I will. Um, we, we help clients do one of three things or both, or three. we help them get better results in student acquisition, student retention, and student success. So, more or different future students, keeping the ones that you've got, and helping your students go off and have a great experience, during and, and after their study. when I was looking at the sort of landscape of, in higher ed around the world, And I knew this from having worked in universities. I thought that there was a lot of sort of options for universities that's top end of town. So, big consulting firms, Deloitte, Sensen Young, PwC. And there were a lot of really, really skilled, competent people. at the other end of the market, individuals who could help universities. And I call them the Bob and Sues, like super nice people who had sort of one specialization. And maybe they were a marketing person or a compliance person or an admissions person. But there didn't seem to be anything in the middle for mid sized projects. And there also didn't seem to be a home for Bob and Sues. So, on offer was people who were consultants from the day they were finished university who were. getting into education, there didn't seem to be a group of education specialists who had got into consulting. So that's where I, that's where I saw the gap. And I also thought that a lot of the, what was on offer at the time before we came along was, was very kind of strategy, but no real practical understanding of the roadblocks and legacy systems and the politics of how to actually achieve your objectives. So I thought there was something practical missing. I love this idea of like banding together to create a crack team of experts in different areas, um, that you can shape to different challenges and different briefs and different problems. I like it. Thanks. You know, Australia, Canada, and the UK have all, the governments have all put their brakes on in different ways., and that's going to have different outcomes. And there's, there's always, it always feels like search for the guilty and then punishment of the innocent. And it's unusual that it's all three at once. Normally we just kind of cycle through it. You know, UK does it, then Canada does it, then Australia does it. But it's happening all at once. And I think the fundamental, problem or maybe challenge or opportunity we have is about communication with the people in power or the people about to be in power. I think governments do have a right to restrict number of people or to monitor that or control it. But the fact that they always seem to do it in a way that's very mallet against a walnut or, or, or damaging or, very short sighted. I'm not saying we're to blame for that, I'm just saying that's an opportunity to communicate better to the ones in power and help them understand the nuance of the industry and the benefits of the industry and the impact that their decisions can have over a long period of time. Sorry, that was, that was a very serious bit. say something. Funny. Nick The last section of the show is called Anything to Declare. This is a free space for you to talk about whatever you'd like. Oh, wow. Well, I just want to reiterate, it's lovely being with everyone here. just how fortunate we are to work in the sector that we do and in, in the times that we live in. I think, although there's lots of challenges, it's a really exciting time and whenever there's a crisis, that's always an opportunity to improve and retool and reequip and reimagine. and we work in a sector that's so, enriching. you get a sense of that, when you go and talk to students and see the changes that have happened in their lives. And if you bump into students that you met years ago, it's a really amazing sector. I mean, I can't think of one that has such a, an amazing impact on the people who purchase it. The people who purchase education become part of the brand, they become part of the story. you know, when you buy a car, you don't become part of the Toyota story. But when you go to, on the University of Glasgow, you become part of the product and part of the thing. And the sort of amazing number of connections that, and friendships and lifelong sort of companions that people form. It's just amazing. So, That's all I've got to declare. Well said. Yeah. I'm going to hijack this section as well for us because, we want to thank everyone for listening. at the moment we have got five new episodes that have come out that are student and graduate stories. Exactly what you're talking about here. And we've just been blown away, haven't we, in terms of, how powerful those stories are. We all love the lulls and the The laughs about our misadventures in the sector, but these are real stories of transformation and just things that are so difficult to get ahead, heads round. Rachel Kimber's here. Wally and Wahab, you know, came from Afghanistan and Kaplan helped them find places and support them for university. We have, Neil Deng, who, came through a program of scholarships to study in Canada at Huron University from a huge refugee camp in Kenya. we speak to Lane who was an activist against gun violence when she was just 15 years old taking that stance about, high school shootings and how wrong it is in that culture in the U. S. So please, please, please listen to them because they are for us probably the most important episodes we've made. It made me realize that I hadn't spoken to students in quite a long time and that actually the world's in pretty good hands after speaking to them. They're very, responsible. Very interesting and compassionate people So yeah, do give it a listen. Okay. Uh, thank you very much, Mark, for coming on and being a fantastic guest. It's been great speaking to you. We are live here in London. So if everyone could give Mark a big round of applause, this has been Tales from the Departure Lounge live Bon voyage, everyone.

Nick:

Hello everyone. Thank you so much for listening. As always. If you are a fan of the show. Please leave a review or emailers at sick bag, a tales from the departure lounge.com. Until then. Safe travels everyone. Tales from the Departure Lounge is a type nine production for the pie.