Like many of the staff at Tharwa Valley Forge, Mark took a circuitous route into knifemaking. He enlisted in the Australian Army at age 17 and served for 13 years in an interesting variety of roles: aircraft refueller, recruit instructor, trainee helicopter pilot, electronic warfare specialist, and military linguist. He saw Active Service in East Timor and Iraq.
As a result of his service in Iraq, Mark was medically discharged in 2009. He faced a difficult six years of recovery before he was ready to attempt to return to the workforce. Asides from the support of his family, one of the biggest factors contributing to his recovery was his engagement with art and creativity. In particular, he credits the volunteer work of Art Therapists Tanja Johnston and Jandy Paramanathan at Austin Repatriation Hospital for leading him to where he is today.
Like many veterans who have been affected by their service, Mark faced a signifcant degree of difficulty reintegrating into civilian society. Translating his military skills into something relevant to civilian employers proved challenging, but Mark found his niche in marketing and analytics. It turns out that if you are good at using data driven methodologies to find people who make IEDs, then you are probably pretty good at finding people and selling stuff to them online.
Mark and Karim are in the process of developing a series of courses for veterans and their families that will assist them to reintegrate and reconnect following their military service. Using a model based on sustainable altruism, Tharwa Valley Forge has already begun providing courses to veterans who have been affected by their service.
Asides from his work with the veteran community at Tharwa Valley Forge, Mark provides analytics and marketing support to the team as well as using his creative skills to assist with the conduct of courses.