Parting Thoughts: Mark Turner, formerly of WSFS

By Peter Osborne
Special to Delaware Business Times

On Jan. 1, WSFS Chairman, President and CEO Mark A. Turner turned over the reins to Rodger Levenson and became executive chairman of the company’s board of directors (with Lead Independent Director Eleuthère I. du Pont).

Turner, a lifelong resident of the Delaware Valley with a bachelor’s degree from LaSalle University and an MBA from The Wharton School, was appointed president and CEO of WSFS in April 2007 and served
in management for more than 22 years, including two decades as a member of the executive leadership team. During that time, WSFS Customers repeatedly selected WSFS as the “best bank” and a “top bank” in Delaware and Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Since the months just after the 2008 financial crisis, when the company recorded a cycle-low market valuation of approximately $100 million, WSFS’ market capitalization has increased to more than $1.7 billion — representing a total shareholder return of more than 900 percent. He took some time recently to reflect on his career for Delaware Business Times.

At what point in your life did you realize you had the power of change or the power to do something meaningful?

Soon after I joined WSFS Bank. I realized a community bank was in a perfect position to directly and positively affect the communities it serves, and as a senior leader there, every day I had the ability to make a real difference in other people’s lives.

How do you want to be remembered?

I would like to be remembered for raising daughters who are happy, healthy, successful and fulfilled in their own way, and as someone who strived for excellence, built great things that last, and made a positive difference in the world.

What were your strengths as a leader/entrepreneur? Your weaknesses?

My strengths are vision, boldness, excellence, team-building, and gritty, dogged execution on those things. My weakness is slowing down to acknowledge, nurture and care for individuals. It has been critical then that I have people on the team who do this so well.

What’s more important in leadership: Making others’ strengths stronger or eliminating their weaknesses?
Always stay close to and focus on your strengths — constantly build and hone them. Identify and understand your weaknesses and get others to fill them, and celebrate them fully for that.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?

If you want to impress someone, tell them about your successes. If you want to improve them, tell them ALL about your failures.

What lessons did you learn from your biggest success and your biggest failure?

Regardless of success or failure, be the same person and do the same things … work hard, stay humble, keep your eyes up, and always get better.

When you hear the word “successful,” who (or what) do you think of?

Real positive world-changers, like Jesus, Mozart, Lincoln, Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Einstein and NASA.

What’s your favorite quote?

Every cloud has a silver lining — if you can’t see it, find it; and if you  can’t find it, make it! It’s my recipe and responsibility for turning every experience into something good.

When you feel overwhelmed, get distracted, or lose your focus, what do you do?

Keep moving forward. Develop an action plan with manageable chunks, and “set them up and knock them down, one by one.”

If you could walk in someone’s shoes (living or dead) for 24 hours, who would it be?

Abraham Lincoln in the White House. He acted with such wisdom, grace, goodness, courage and decisiveness with so much against him and so much at stake

What inspires you today?

The intelligence, talent, savviness, maturity and humanity of my two teenage daughters and their friends. They are much, much more advanced than my generation at the same stage of life. It reminds me that the world is always getting better, and there is also great hope in solving the problems my generation has considered intractable.

What’s next for you?

Something different, interesting, positive and impactful. (Not yet discovered.)

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