NAME: RICHARD MARK
Richard Mark was recently recognized by two organizations for his work in the community.
Mark, President and Chief Executive Officer, Ameren Illinois in Collinsville, has been given the Pillar of Hope award from Call for Help, a Southwestern Illinois nonprofit crisis-service agency, for his commitment and contributions to the agency and those it supports. Mark has also been recognized at the Centennial Gala for the St. Louis City NAACP for his dedication and leadership to improve economic and social growth in the St. Louis area. He recently talked with business writer Will Buss about his recent recognition:
How did you respond when you learned you had won these awards?
"It was quite an honor. It was a very humbling experience to be recognized by the city of St. Louis for commitment to the community, and I guess the one thing about the (NAACP) award I received is it is named after Frankie Muse Freeman, a legend of civil rights. And so to receive this award named after her was quite an honor. I was really taken back by it and very happy to receive the NAACP and the Pillar of Hope award. I used to work in St. Clair County in 1984. One of my first jobs when I came out of college was as a teacher and a football coach. I worked in St. Clair County in the governmental grants department in the '80s. That's when they started the suicide prevention program hotline. That was cutting edge in the '80s. There are not many programs that provided suicide prevention help for anyone. They really tried to help young people and were focused on young people. I had an opportunity to do things with them and I got to know people who worked with then. They continue that service today."
Who has encouraged you to give back to the community?
"I am thankful Ameren has encouraged me and given me the opportunity to work in the community, and our CEO encourages all of us that we need to get involved in the community. That couples with having a history of community involvement that was passed down to be from my parents. My mother and father were very focused on giving back to the community and helping people in need. I was taught that from a very young age and was active with our church in Collinsville as a young child. I would go with them to do things to help people that needed help. I participated in fundraisers and community functions. It's just really kind of a humbling experience to get an award for something you do because it is the right thing to do. By doing this for others, we really help build a stronger community. If you can help someone in need, that person can be successful and help others. You build strong communities one person at a time."
How long have you been at your current job?
"I have actually been the CEO of Ameren Illinois for right at one year. I was appointed CEO at Ameren Illinois on June 13 of last year. I just celebrated my first year in this position and it's been great to be back working in Illinois. To be the CEO of one of the major companies over here, I felt I've been given a great opportunity to do things in the community and it is a great opportunity to be able to continue to not only help from a community standpoint, but from an economic standpoint. We opened a new office in Collinsville, purchased a building in Collinsville in 2012 and we've expanded that and currently have around 100 people working at that office. A few more will be added over the next couple of years as we grow our infrastructure. We will make a $2 billion investment in the next five to six years in Illinois and to be able to lead that effort is exciting. At the same time, we have been able to help non-for-profit organizations and we encourage all of our employees to volunteer with charitable organizations and get involved and give back. I have been able to use my position and this role to continue to do that."
Where have you worked prior?
"I worked for Ameren Missouri. I worked for 10-and-a-half years of my career for Ameren Missouri in the downtown (St. Louis) corporate office. I was senior vice president of customer operations. I was in charge of electric and gas delivery systems for the state of Missouri."
What is your focus with the utility company at this point?
"We're looking at strategies and looking at long-term needs. In Illinois right now, we're looking at how do we build the electric and gas infrastructure for the 21st century? The challenging part about that is in 2030 or 2040 what type of electric appliances will be in your house? We have to think about these things now and we have to start planning to understand how it will affect infrastructure and how we can meet our customers' energy needs. We have to plan now for what our customers will need in 2030 or 2040. That takes a lot of thought and a lot of input."
What do you enjoy most about your work?
"I've grown up in Collinsville and I have been here my entire life. And to be able to come back and be in a leadership role with a company like Ameren in your own hometown is very rewarding for me. I get to see and meet a lot of new people and people I've known for over a year and interact with them. It's great to be able to go back to some community groups and schools and talk to kids about opportunities that they might be able to have as adults. So I enjoy trying to give kids the inspiration to feel that if that guy can do it, so can I. That's the most rewarding part of what I see and feel about being back in your hometown."
Contact reporter Will Buss at email@example.com or 239-2526.