MADE BY MEMBERS • February 2021
Business leader, Gold for Life Executive Club Member and one-time pilot, Mark Spelman can now add another string to his bow as proud owner of the new Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Concorde Edition. He tells us about his love of fast planes and high-performance cars
Tell us a little about your background
I grew up in Kent, close to Biggin Hill, where my father was president of the Air Crew Association. I attended Cambridge University, where I studied Economics, before going on to get my MBA at INSEAD in France. My career ended up specialising in business strategy, particularly around how business models have been (and should be) influenced by digital technologies and sustainability.
And what do you do these days?
I’m 63 now and finished my executive roles back in 2015 – these were in large-scale consulting organisations – and since then I’ve managed a portfolio of non-executive roles, namely in the business, sport and charity sectors. I’m on a very interesting spread of committees and think tanks.
“If you’ve got any pilot genes in you, you’re always interested in how the flight’s going”
Did your father inspire your love of aviation?
My father flew gliders at Arnhem and D-Day in World War II, and I think when you have that sort of history in your family, getting into flying is not particularly difficult. I used to have a private pilot’s licence and have been a Gold Member with BA for three decades. So I guess you could say I have flying in the genes!
What’s your favourite thing about flying?
The flying experience for me isn’t just about sitting in a particular seat in a particular class. I actually really enjoy the flying and how the plane is being flown. If you’ve got any pilot genes in you, you’re always interested in how the flight’s going, where we are on the approach, which circuit you’re in, the quality of the landing. It’s part and parcel of the experience.
The distinctive silhouette of Concorde
And what comes to mind when you think about Concorde?
I’ve had some special experiences on Concorde. I actually sat in on a Concorde landing at Washington, DC. I’d gone up to the flight deck and was talking with the crew about how things were going when I asked, “Any chance of sitting in on the landing?” and they said, “Sure!” In 30-plus years of flying, it hasn’t got much better than that. I also flew my mother and father on Concorde to New York for their 40th wedding anniversary.
How does it feel to know you now own a piece of this historic aircraft?
To understand my interest in this car, you have to look at it from two angles: my passion for aviation and my passion for Formula 1. And, of course, I’ve always admired Aston Martin – unbelievable design and performance. In both Concorde and Aston Martin, you’ve got three things that really come together.
The first is technological excellence. Concorde is by far the most exciting and innovative plane one could ever go on. It was technologically unique and incredibly advanced for its time. Then you have the design of Aston Martin cars, which in terms of the shape and configuration is just unbelievable.
The second is consumer experience. When you hear people talk about Concorde, it’s clear that it belonged to its own distinctive class. And one of the reasons people are so passionate about Aston Martin is because the driving experience is so phenomenal.
Finally, they’re both iconic brands. And both, of course, are British. It’s a perfect marriage.
As a businessperson, I know that technological excellence, a distinct consumer experience and solid brand values are the three key components to success. A big part of this, for me, is about the way the collaboration embodies my central philosophies on business and success. Sure, it goes back to my father, to my flying heritage, to my love of cars and F1. But, ultimately, this project says something huge about my business beliefs and the future of business.
The Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Concorde Edition
How are you finding the car?
The car is a part of history, an investment and an unbelievable driving experience. It has speed, style and sophistication. It can change from being a grand tourer to a high-performance race car in an instant. I know some of the people involved with the design and production of the car and they have done a phenomenal job in incorporating Concorde’s features and bringing Aston Martin’s tagline of power, beauty and soul to this unique DBS.
When did you hit Gold?
I think it was 1991! I’ve been loyal to BA for 30 years and have done something like 2.2 million miles and visited 34 countries.
What’s your biggest tip for getting to Gold?
Be smart about the way you combine long haul and short. Long haul and the transatlantic stuff bring in the Tier points, but then utilise your Avios to make the most of your short-haul travel.
What’s your most frequent route?
London to Chicago. The most convenient place in the world to get people together is Chicago.
Favourite place to sit on the plane?
A window seat on the back row of the 747’s upper deck.
Best advice for sleeping on planes?
My philosophy has always been to work when flying west, and to sleep when flying east. I’ve never taken a sleeping pill on a plane.
Top flying hack?
Always change your watch to the time zone of the destination when you first get on the plane. And avoid greasy, heavy food before you travel.
Cape Town is one mountainous metropolis that ticks all of Mark’s boxes
Favourite holiday destination?
Cape Town. I’ll stay at the Alphen Boutique Hotel and watch cricket at Newlands.
Top packing tip?
I pack extremely light, making sure to have only the most relevant bits of kit. Enough to make the plane my mobile office. I barely ever put luggage in the hold.
Best way to get the most out of Avios?
Link your accounts or create a household account.
Number one place you want to take your new car?
London to Monaco to watch the Monaco Grand Prix.
Best place you’ve seen the Northern Lights?
St Petersburg, Russia. Runner-up would be Svalbard, which is in the Arctic Circle, a three-hour flight north of Oslo.
Hope for the future?
That we’ll move permanently into a hybrid working world. Zoom is great but, at some point, we need to get back out there in person. It may take some time, but I’m looking forward to making those journeys again.