Julian Wigman & Mark McGinn the Statler & Waldorf of the IT World.

From the Balcony

So, although most profiles would start with a bouncy introduction to the team, we’d like to tell you about our own MarXtar muppets! We are lucky enough to have our very own Statler & Waldorf, Mark McGinn, our MD and Julian Wigman our Head of ITxM Services!

Statler and Waldorf are the grumpy, yet lovable pair of puppets from The Muppets who enjoy competitive conversation. This pair of Muppet characters are known for their cantankerous opinions and shared penchant for heckling. The two elderly men first appeared in The Muppet Show in 1975, where they consistently jeered the entirety of the cast and their performances from the best seats in the house, on the balcony.

Julian & Mark are two IT specialists with massive amounts of real-life experience under their belts (probably as many years in IT between them as the 40 plus years of Statler and Waldorf) and a great deal of knowledge on all things IT. With a strong friendship and work relationship they are the married couple equivalent in the office.

They have been lovingly dubbed the Statler & Waldorf of the IT world by us in the MarXtar office as they both have very strong IT convictions and the debate’s they have in meetings are as memorable as the old chaps themselves.

Statler: The question is, what is a Mahna Mahna?
Waldorf: The question is, who cares?

Mark aka Statler (tall, with what little hair he has being grey): Mark is the Managing Director of MarXtar and an industry innovator for over 20 years, Mark has held a variety of roles across the full spectrum of Senior Management, Marketing, Product Management, and Technical roles. As a three-times recipient of the Ivanti Engineer of the Year award, Mark has successfully designed & implemented some of the largest and most complex global projects while retaining the grounding required to deal with companies of all sizes.

Waldorf aka Julian (more hair on top and a far cuddlier look after years of being cared for by his wife Astoria): Julian is Head of ITxM Services for MarXtar with massive amounts of experience in: ITSM, ITIL, Project Management, Product Management Consultancy, Business Intelligence (MS Reporting Services & Crystal Reports), SQL, VB.NET, LANDESK CLE – Service Desk, Ivanti MVP, Axensia Engage!. He has delivered IVANTI ITxM consulting services to our customer base from both HEAT and LANDESK Service Management product stream and has been delivering solutions via Consultancy, Professional Service Management, Product Management and Project Management roles in working for new business start-ups through to large FTSE 100 companies.

This level of shared expertise is not only amazing for MarXtar but also leads to some amusing interludes between our two muppets.

Waldorf: I wish Gene Kelly would teach me to Charleston.
Statler: I wish Gene Kelly would DRIVE you to Charleston!

Their great competition is the Ivanti Community forum Leader board. Both Julian and Mark have been vying for the highest position, switching places every time they earn points. As I write Julian is an Ivanti Master with 16640 and Mark (also a Master) is on 15730 points – so close! So, this will fire them up again.

 The competition between the two cantankerous old fellas continues into their love of heated debate, however their argumentative nature is due to both having  a passion to achieve an end goal, be that helping a customer better utilise their system or in creating a new piece of Software. Their spectacular debates (which we all watch like a tennis match!) only ever lead to better outcomes and fresh innovative ideas, because when their two heads come together, even when they disagree, it’s with the willingness to share their expertise and opinions rather than trying to outsmart one another. Believing that it’s important to be curious and explore, because even bad ideas can be useful; in fact, they can help you to find new and better ideas.

Diverse thinking and disagreements can be uncomfortable (which Statler & Waldorf enjoy) but they are more likely to lead partners or a team to make progress, innovate, and come up with breakthrough solutions than consensus and “nice” conversations in which people hold back what they really think.

Polite silence or a vanilla response usually stems from peoples’ fear of conflict. Far too many people don’t want to get involved, instead hoping that others will take the lead, speak up and have the tricky conversations and they will simply go along with the majority. Mark & Julian aren’t afraid to light the fire under a conversation to ensure the best outcome, both believing that “not talking” about their opinions is a far bigger indicator of issues that could arise than “fighting a lot.”

Statler: Wake up you old fool. You slept through the show.
Waldorf: Who’s a fool? You watched it.

When you’ve done something successfully for so many years and know a product inside out, you establish ways that work smoothly for you. Its quick & simple because you know it and it’s a routine/ pattern that you’re familiar with so why change? Mark and Julian challenge each other, always asking, ‘why did you do it that way’? Engaging in a non-competitive debate, when it’s not about being right or wrong, but about together discovering other options and forming positive change helps cement those better ideas in your mind.

S: Have you ever been to a Witch Doctor?
W: They’re all witch! Ever been to a poor doctor?

Watching the animated discussions between Mark and Julian in the meeting room is just as amusing as watching the old pair in the balcony, finding themselves vastly entertaining and inevitably bursting into mutual laughter at their own witticisms. Despite constant complaining they still come back the following week and in the best seats in the office.

The banter that bounds around the MarXtar office isn’t criticism or a personal attack it’s a strong, time earned relationship that proves good relationships and a safe environment to raise your opinions is the key to success and for all their gruff, Waldorf & Statler would attest that too.  

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