Who is Mark Russell?
He is CEO at Optimus Performance Marketing in Plymouth and has additional business interests with a number of local businesses.
Mark Russell is also the chairman of Plymouth Parkway FC, having joined the club in 2016 with the ambition to take Parkway to the Western League, which was achieved in the 2017/18 season.
Mark was born in 1979 in Plymouth, and grew up in Saltash until at 17 he moved to France for 6 months to work in what was his passion as a child of catering.
Mark's father was a paramedic in Saltash and his mother was a teacher at secondary schools, mainly at St Boniface.
Mark then went onto college in Plymouth and got a BTEC in catering.
His career started in catering back in the UK at 18 when he worked in a number of hotels and restaurants in Plymouth and surrounding areas, Mark then got married to Lorraine at 20, and decided that the long hours of catering were not for him and his family anymore where he went onto doing Market Research door to door. With his talent for talking (and listening) Mark soon moved into the world of internet marketing via an old boss.
With confidence and communication as key leadership qualities, it was a natural step for Mark to find his entrepreneurial streak, and so, in October 2006, he launched an affiliate management company.
Its success meant it turned a profit each year since its inception and, in 2010, the company rebranded as Optimus Performance Marketing. To celebrate his success he organised are branding of his company that was called Existem Affiliate Management to Optimus, where he invited 80 people from round the country to celebrate the success that the first 4 years of business. It was a bitter sweet moment in Mark’s life. “I was buzzing at the new company branding and its look,” recalls Mark. “Then the following day it was the complete opposite when my father passed away. He never understood what I did but he was always my ‘go to’ person as we were more like friends than father and son.
“It hit me hard as I didn’t expect to lose my Dad at 31 as he was only in his sixties. It was a point which I could have let it get to me but it drove me forward and pushed me to be as successful as I could possibly be.”
From 2010 to current day the team has grown and the company now has a turnover of £2-3m and continues to make profit every year, and over the 12 years of business the agency has been rewarded as market leaders in the industry and currently works with a number of major brands.
Mark then got involved in football when PAFC went into administration by helping to setup the Green Taverners and continued to run the GT's until the exit from administration was complete, when he stepped away from PAFC.
At this point Mark got involved in local Plymouth team Bar Sol Ona, which he worked with the manager and club to grow from 1 Sunday team to 2 Saturday teams, 2 Sunday teams and 1 Under 18's team.
In 2016 Mark was approached by Plymouth Parkway to take over the role at the club as chairman and to help the club move forward, and within months it was obvious that Parkway were going to start moving forward, and various new partners got involved in the football club and talk already started about taking promotion as soon as possible.
Mark has also invested into a number of businesses over the years to help new entrepreneurs launch businesses and have guidance in the initial period and ongoing to help people take an opportunity forward.
As Mark says, “I have been lucky and successful through hard work and by being in the right place at the right time but you do have to work hard. When I started I would work from seven in the morning to two to three the following morning.
“My grades at school were C / D and everything in business has been self-taught. My wife refers to me as ‘The Sponge’ as I never stop absorbing information and am always learning.”
Mark said about joining the Devon FA Board, “ I was asked if I would be interested in joining the board at Devon FA to look after the commercial and marketing, this was something that straight away I was interested in seeing what I could do to help them. I am really excited about this role as I think we can achieve great things for the football community in Devon.”
Paul Morrison CEO at Devon FA added; “The County have found a diamond in Mark and the qualities he holds as a businessman and football man will serve the County very well.”