Having the courage to persevere in the face of tragic personal loss is a challenge Mark Hiegel, the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, has not only confronted — but conquered.
“With almost a year under my belt at the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce, I can actually say that this is the best and most rewarding job I have had in my 35-plus years in business,” he said in a July 27 interview.
But before his tenure at the Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Hiegel came from Wisconsin where he received his undergraduate business degree, achieved a master of business arts from Arizona State University and worked in top management positions for iconic American brands such as Xerox and PepsiCo.
“My dad was from a family of all girls so of course he wanted a boy to carry on the Hiegel family name,” he pointed out of his early years. “Hence, after four girls in a row, I was the first Hiegel boy born on Friday the 13th. Lucky me!”
Mark’s father is now retired but is a past president and CEO of Oscar Mayer, which at one time was one of the leading food providers in north America.
Mr. Hiegel, who comes from a family of 10, has been tested in every sense a person can as he has lost both a wife and a son tragically early.
“I’ve been married once, to my wife Donna (now in heaven) and we had three terrific kids together, Alexandra, Travis, and Hunter. Alexandra lives and works in California (doing Hollywood stuff), Travis was a student at Northern Arizona University (and unfortunately went to heaven after a tragic car accident five years ago), and Hunter is studying at Scottsdale Community College,” boasts Mr. Hiegel.
Mr. Hiegel has served in top management positions covering 13 countries in the Asia Pacific for PepsiCo, managed wish delivery for children at the Make-A-Wish America and was co-owner of what is now known as the Phoenix-based The Lavidge Company.
To better understand the man opposed to the public persona, Mr. Hiegel was asked a variety of questions to help Independent readers better understand who is at the helm of the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce.
This is what he had to say:
•What inherent beliefs do you have that help guide you through your life and its challenges?
A handshake is better than any contract ever written. Can’t means won’t, if you won’t, somebody else will.
•When faced with a difficult task or problem, how do you motivate yourself?
Figure out how to make it an opportunity and then take that first step forward.
•What do you think is your worst quality?
I’m too competitive. Sometimes that’s really hard on other people.
•Being a public figure, how do you deal with the pressures and commitment of public life?
I love it. I’ve served on over 20 civic and community boards and now I get paid for doing the same type of work and get to network with wonderful people 24 hours, seven days a week.
•In your entire life what accomplishment are you most proud of and why?
Such a cliché, but of course my kids!
•What has been your biggest challenge professionally and how did you overcome?
After the loss of my son I climbed into “deep dark hole” and didn’t work for a year. I overcame it thanks to my two other kids, my family, close friends, and the support of the Scottsdale Charros.
•What has the biggest mistake you ever made and how did that experience help shape the person you are today?
I decided not to go to college after high school and moved to California with friends. After 10 months in a factory I went back to school and got my BBA and MBA in five years.
•What is it that you aim to achieve at the helm of the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce?
Preparing the next generation of leaders here and helping to make the changes necessary to make sure Scottsdale continues to be the best city to live in for all generations.
•What do you believe to be the biggest issue facing the city of Scottsdale?
The “vocal minority” believes they “own” the city of Scottsdale (along with the mountains) contained within our city. They don’t, and I hope the “silent majority” speaks out and votes so that we are truly a community for all.
North Valley News Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at 623-445-2774 or at firstname.lastname@example.org