Saskatchewan Leaders in Profile: Mark Heise, Gamechanger

Mark Heise. Photo by Shane Luhning.

Mark Heise was “born a rebel,” always marching to the beat of his own drum and always looking for something new, interesting, or different. This eventually led him down a rabbit hole of punk rock and homebrewing, where he further explored his DIY hard working ethos and pursuit of excellence to become one of the best homebrewers in the world.

He studied business and economics but dropped out of university as soon as he got a full-time job in accounting. After a few years, he switched to IT, doing all sorts of high-level technical IT work, eventually moving into project management, technical architecture, and finally as an account executive managing tens of millions of annual IT spending, and advising CEOs and government officials on strategic IT investment in alignment with high level business needs. Mark may have worn a suit and had his own office, but he was still a punk rocker underneath, and most of the time he was daydreaming about beer and opening his own brewery.

This dream became a reality in 2014 when Rebellion Brewing opened. Rebellion quickly became the biggest craft brewery in Saskatchewan, and built a reputation for being honest, passionate, and outspoken about making really good beer, while promoting everything great about Regina and Saskatchewan, and being a huge community supporter, engager and collaborator.

What is the most dangerous trait in a leader’s career?

“Believing your own hype. I’m proud of what I have accomplished, and a lot of people like to tell me how great I am, which feels great of course. But I also don’t really care about those things, because those things are based on past achievements. I’m more focused on what I am going to do today and tomorrow to be an even better version of myself.”

If you could give one piece of advice about leadership, what would it be?

“It is a skill like any other skill. You need to learn it, practice it, use it all the time, and commit to it long term to be good at it. Otherwise, you become stale and outdated really fast. The results aren’t always immediately noticeable, and there always more urgent tasks that need to be done, but as the leader of your organization, you have to ask yourself, “am I working ON my business, or IN my business?”

How do you measure success for you as a leader?

“My success is 100% based on the performance, growth and engagement of my staff, and our overall work culture. It takes a lot of ‘deprogramming’ as a leader to realize your success is based on the success of your staff. In many work environments, the focus is on personal achievements and individual success, or maximum short-term profit at the expense of culture. I’m committed to long term organizational success and sustainability, and I can’t do that without a team of great people.”

Seeds of Change