Our Meet the Team Series is meant to showcase some of the exceptional talent we have here at ENERGY and to help you get to know us on a more personal level.
In the bustling and everchanging world of transportation and logistics, Mark Serre’s finance department is a sea of calm and productivity.
We wanted to dig deeper into Mark’s ability to keep cool under pressure and to explore the career and life experience that helped shape his warm and welcoming leadership style.
Can you tell us a little about what your role is here at ENERGY?
As VP of Finance, I am the steward/protector of the vital assets of the company. I operate a highly effective and efficient finance organization, assist at the strategy planning table, and lastly help stimulate and drive business improvement initiatives. I am here to help my managers of accounting and accounts payable, billing, credit, and accounts receivable, and risk and compliance achieve their objectives.
Furthermore, I’m here to advise and coach all stakeholders, from executives to team members, and everyone in between.
I also think part of my role in the company is to be a cheerleader — cheering on the team and removing roadblocks to help them succeed.
For me, that means taking the time to mentor middle management. But it also means sitting down with department leaders to help them better understand and define their KPIs.
You’re coming up on three years here at ENERGY and a lot has changed since then. I was wondering what your first impressions of ENERGY were, and what do you think of it now?
My first impression was the sky is the limit. There was, and still is, a strong entrepreneurial spirit driving the company forward. And this entrepreneurial spirit comes from all levels of management, and it really speaks to me.
Coming on three years later, I would say we have no limit.
We’re in a position now where we can achieve all the goals we set forth while staying true to who we are as a company.
The world of transport and logistics is fast-paced, to say the least. It’s of note that the finance department is always so calm and collected. What’s your secret sauce for keeping your department so tranquil while also delivering results?
For me, it’s about balance. You must attend to the details, and you can’t forget about them, but you need to balance it with the big picture. You need to balance effort versus results.
Someone can work all night and still can’t get the big presentation done. But at the end of the day, you need that presentation – you need results. Having said that, you also need to recognize effort. If someone is putting in the effort but still struggling, they might not have the right tools or training for the job.
So, if there is any secret sauce that I have, I’d like to think it’s because I try to never lose sight of the big picture. I reward results and effort. And I always ensure there are open lines of communication with my team.
Is the current capacity crunch we are experiencing a net benefit to logistics providers because of the increased rates?
Yes, I think so, but we do need to consider this recent surge in transportation costs on a long- and short-term basis.
In the short term, you need to make hay when the sun is shining. There is a cyclicality to our industry. In the long term, the economics of a balanced market and the nature of humans mean that capacity will increase.
In the 18 months leading up to the pandemic, there was a glut of capacity. I’m confident the market will re-balance, but there are some concerning trends that might complicate how quickly the industry adjusts.
For example, the average age of drivers is 50+, so it’s not just equipment that’s in short supply. A driver is a key pillar of our service offering. I think big investments in HR and tech are critical when looking at the long-term sustainability of the industry.
How could we better safeguard the industry against another supply chain disruption like we had with COVID?
That’s a huge question, and with my limited industry experience, it’s tough to answer.
That said, to protect the industry from something like the COVID pandemic in the future, I think we need to have a lengthy conversation with economists, sociologists, and God.
We need economists to evaluate if various mechanisms can help stabilize the supply/demand equation of markets.
We need sociologists to help us better understand, and how to influence consumer behavior. Much of the market volatility during the COVID pandemic was due to shifting consumer preferences. People weren’t traveling or going to restaurants. Everyone began spending that money on physical goods, creating supply shortages.
Finally, we need to have a conversation with God to get advance notice of black swan events like a global pandemic. How can we completely safeguard an industry from a once-in-a-century event?
If you could give someone one reason they should work for ENERGY, what would it be?
The first word that comes to mind is opportunity.
We are a rapidly expanding company. That creates a lot of opportunities as we face the challenges that come with growing pains. There are a lot of balls to juggle when a company is in growth mode. An employee can grab a ball and can run with it. And if you do, you’re in a good spot to receive recognition for your initiative and ambition.
And with recognition comes reward, which is another reason I would give to work at ENERGY. Positive contributions that help the company achieve its objectives come around to benefit the individual that made it happen. Rest assured, initiative and ambition are core values here at ENERGY.