Mark studied BA (Hons) Town and Country Planning at The University of Manchester, and is now Director and Owner of Daymer.
I decided to complete my planning qualifications in Bristol following my graduation from Manchester in 1991, and from there converted to law.
I accepted articles (now called a training contract) with a London law firm in 1994. My experience allowed me to specialise in planning law, and I joined the leading legal practice Berwin Leighton (now Berwin Leighton Paisner) in 1996. I enjoyed the development and strategic work that we did for clients like Tesco.
In the late 1990s, I was head hunted by a client to become a property developer. I was soon back in Manchester trying to help the regeneration of east Manchester and Ancoats at the time that developers like Urban Splash and City Lofts were making a name for themselves and transforming the city. I was the director responsible for the developer ING Real Estate acquiring Royal Mills, and we converted it into award-winning homes and business space.
I was then head hunted again to become the Chief Executive of the first public sector, private sector regeneration partnership - Isis Waterside Regeneration. We were responsible for property regeneration projects on land owned by British Waterways in London, Glasgow, Birmingham and Manchester.
One such scheme - Islington Wharf on the Ashton Canal, close to Piccadilly Railway Station - led to a good working relationship with Manchester City Council Chief Executive Sir Howard Bernstein. In 2009, he asked me to become Manchester's Sportcity Director, reporting directly to him and working closely with the urban development company NEM. I was responsible for delivering three mutually-reinforcing investment opportunities around the City of Manchester Stadium in East Manchester, building on the infrastructure in place for the 2002 Commonwealth Games. These opportunities were:
- strengthening Manchester’s role as a national centre for elite sports
- securing an internationally significant leisure and tourism destination in place of the withdrawn regional casino
- supporting Manchester City Football Club’s investment in infrastructure to deliver a world-leading football academy and stadium.
In 2011, through my old law firm, I was asked to join a Dubai-based education company as their Group Director of Global Real Estate. I have been living in the UAE with my family ever since.
I now run my own business, Daymer, operating deeply across various aspects of delivering private education in the UAE and the Middle East. Daymer works with school operators, landowners, build-to-suit developers and funders in relation to school licensing, land and facilities, and also with best-in-class specialists in the provision of transport, sports programmes, furniture/fit out, catering and recruitment.
Studying at Manchester
I have had an extremely diverse and satisfying career where I have made the most of my entrepreneurial instincts.
I have benefited from a solid undergraduate course at Manchester, which gave me broad skills and the confidence to explore how I can make the biggest impact in the real estate sector.
The breadth and depth of the course, the exceptional tutors and the superb friends that I made have definitely shaped my career.
I was also inspired by the city and the tremendous change that it has gone through from the 18th century. I have been very lucky to be able to return to the city as a businessman and help shape that change.
Now that I live as an expatriate in the Middle East, I am very proud of Manchester. I believe that my time at the University has enabled me to make a very decent living while also enjoying my wonderful family and making a genuine difference in the places and to the people that have been impacted in my real estate and education work. As far as I am concerned, this balance is the holy grail of any career.