Market Harborough Building Society's chief executive steps down after nearly 15 years in the post
Rene Butler spoke to Mark Robinson about his time in charge
Mark Robinson has announced he will step down as Market Harborough Building Society chief executive after nearly 15 years in the post.
The popular business leader says he now plans to focus on roles which create a positive social impact. He has already accepted a trustee position with the Leicestershire and Rutland Community Foundation, a group who help fundraise and match businesses with local charitable causes.
He said: “I am retiring from my executive career but not putting my slippers on to go and potter about. I’ll be looking for similar roles to trustee on the Leicestershire and Rutland Community Foundation.
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“They bring a huge bang for the charity buck as they are plugged into a lot of great charities. I knew them from my time at MHBS as we felt we were not getting enough quality submissions for funding. They are an impressive organisation with a unique knowledge of local issues and community projects.”
MHBS has become one of the most profitable building societies in the UK since Robinson became CEO, and despite traditional appearances, has always been at the cutting edge of technology, being the first building society to offer online accounts and now providing mortgages through an easy to use, time saving, online portal.
Yet it is the introduction of several charity projects which Robinson cites as being his proudest achievements, such as the MHBS Charitable Foundation which has donated £250,000 locally in the last ten years; and giving all 130 employees two days off each year to work with good causes.
He said: “We might be pulling an old rusty bike out of a river, helping plant hedges or supporting food banks. It’s these kinds of projects which are important to people - especially given what’s happened in the world in the last few years. There’s a sincere collective desire in the business to think ‘how do we put something back in the community?’
“As for our MHBS committee who decide on which schemes to support, difficult judgments have to be made. We have guidelines about creating maximum benefit but we don’t have all the answers and it’s hard knowing if giving £1,000 for the sailing club on Pitsford Reservoir benefitting 20 disabled people is a better decision than buying a single electric wheelchair for £5,000.
Every application is very carefully considered.”
Mr Robinson says he will continue to live in Harborough having first visited when he came for his interview at the building society in 2007. After moving here it emerged that he had a long standing family tree connection to Kibworth.
“Like many people, I care a lot about the place. I’ll pick litter up outside the branch in the town and got heavily involved with preserving the War Memorial at the old Cottage Hospital on Coventry Road. Harborough and its people really get under your skin, but I guess 15 years makes me a newbie.”
MHBS are due to announce their new CEO later in the year. For further details about their charitable foundation can be found at https://mhbs.co.uk/my-membership/charitable-foundation/