Ageism? Mark Gold Doesn’t Buy It
“Age discrimination is something we can each control,” says Mark Gold, an AGEIST fan and cloud computing evangelist. “A lot of people just want to hang up their spurs. They can do that, but it’s detrimental. It’s all about staying relevant. And it can be too easy to become irrelevant.”
We initially bristled as we listened to him. We at AGEIST know many highly qualified friends in their 50s and 60s who have been told point blank by a recruiter or an HR person that a company is looking for somebody “a little younger” or “with longer-term potential.” Age discrimination, unfortunately, does exist.
But Mark does have valuable advice. The 58-year-old senior manager at Accenture — the global management consulting and professional services firm — says he works hard every day to stay relevant in an industry where 20-somethings far outnumber people his age.
Mark thinks we should focus on the strengths that come with experience and maturity.
“I probably can’t code like those who work for me (they are spending 8 hours a day doing it),” he says. “But they also don’t have the social skills to do what matters more, which is to develop deep relationships with clients, manage risks and issues and, generally speaking, live outside themselves.”
The Career Pivot
One of the themes we’ve seen is the need for a continuous re-evaluation of our careers and skill sets, and the probable need for a career pivot for many of us at some point.
The self-described, adamant nonconformist had a standard middle-class upbringing in the San Fernando Valley. He got his bachelor of science degree in chemistry from California State University at Fresno, going on to get a PhD in chemistry from John Hopkins University.
When he observed that companies in the information technology space were moving away from traditional data centers toward cloud computing, he made sure he got additional training and certifications that leveraged his consulting skills. As a result, he says he continues to get new and bigger roles. “I saw the writing on the wall and changed my career from chemistry to information technology. Now I’m a senior cloud technologist at one of the world’s largest technology firms. It doesn’t just happen on its own.”
Staying Up to Date
He also makes sure to stay current on pop culture, from the TV shows he watches – which range from “Walking Dead” to “Holiday Baking Championship” – to the music he listens to, to the news he consumes at every opportunity. He is also a voracious reader (Anne Tyler is his personal favorite).
“I stay knowledgeable about what’s going on across the spectrum,” he says.
Mark also works to stay in shape. He lifts weights with a trainer once a week, walks on the treadmill, hits balls at the driving range at least once a week and eats a healthy diet. “I don’t hang over my belt.”
Mark’s take-charge approach to life — his unwillingness to wait for things to happen for him — can be best summed up by how he came to appear on AGEIST in the first place. He reached out to us and basically dared AGEIST to profile him. His pitch? He’s a relatable everyman.
“I’m one of those average folks I tend to think are ignored on your pages, every one of which I read. I’m not a fancy designer, nor am I new age or even progressive. I think the value in speaking with me and those like me is that we can shed light on how this path is carved out if only in the most work-a-day fashion.”