Mark Gibson Sees Patterns!

Mark Gibson

Meet the Mark Gibson you ONLY thought you knew. He homebrews and makes furniture.


Mark tell us the back story for your BA in film studies.

Because I was active in high school marching band, I started at UC Davis as a music major. I realized quickly that that wasn’t going to be a good career decision for myself, so I started looking around for different majors that could lead to better career opportunities. I took history, economics, managerial accounting, and math classes. In the meantime, I was also taking creative elective classes, when they created film studies. I only needed to take two more classes to finish that major, so I ended up taking those classes and finishing college.  

At Davis, I was very active in the marching band, serving on the band officer council, then the Alumni Band Board of Directors after graduation.  The events and travel ended up taking up a lot of my free time, bit created some great memories with my friends. I also had to work during college to help pay for classes and living expenses. My career started with UC Davis facilities in 2002. I started by doing the inventory count for their storeroom, counting every item in stock for the Physical Count.  Before long I was identified as having the skill set for purchasing, so I moved in that direction and excelled. I figured this was the way to go. At a certain point, I realized I just needed to get my bachelor’s degree and start working so I could pay off my student loans.

What got you to Finance Supervisor? Obviously, people saw great potential in you.

 Early on, I had opportunities to learn leadership skills through the California Association of Director of Activities (CADA) summer leadership camp program that my father helped to develop.  After I graduated high school, I did that in the summers as the camp video producer and picked up what they talked about.  I also did a little bit of student leadership throughout elementary, middle, and high school. This experience is what I leveraged as a supervisor, like: how to run a meeting, be focused, and create goals. I continue to take additional trainings offered by the University to improve my supervisory skills.

I also am not afraid to fail. I’m going to push myself to look at things from different perspectives. I tried to always come up with solutions, especially when it came to purchasing, and a lot of this came naturally to me. I feel like I can look at the big picture, but I can also get into the weeds and understand the entire process more thoroughly. I’m quick to pick up on the subtleties of things and patterns. One of the big things I have always tried to do is identify patterns of purchases. At the University we have a lot of repeating patterns: event purchasing, fiscal close, commencement and facilities repair when students leave.  It’s cyclical.  This helps me be proactive and ask, “how can we do this better?”

What do you do when you get stuck, or the details of life or work become too much?   Do you have a methodology?  A creative process where you can unwind?

It is rare that I do, but if so, I just step back and ask myself, “what’s the solution?”  When that comes up, I go with what I think is the best solution, then run it by the appropriate parties. If I can’t think of something right away, I kind of just let it fester in the subconscious, and my subconscious finds the resolution.  I feel like I am good at problem solving.

As for creativity, I’ve shifted from music into woodworking.  During the process of building my bookcase, when something went wrong, I would step away, particularly if there were power tools and safety considerations.  So that’s kind of how I work. A lot of times, that stop is just enough to have me start thinking in other ways. My mind might seem chaotic to people, but I tend to jump to problem resolution quickly.  If I go someplace and see a piece of furniture, then see the price tag, I think, “I can make that myself.” That’s how I push my skills. Each time I do it, it gets a little better.

What has changed with Supply Chain and where do you fit in?  Any new technology?

With Aggie Enterprise, the big thing is, other than the chart of accounts, our clients should see minimal impact with how they enter data.  Online pre-purchasing is still going to be in existence as well as how they send their requests to us. My team, instead of entering data into KFS, are going to be entering into Aggie Enterprise. My hope is that it has minimal effect on our clients. The key is to be patient as we learn the new system.

Do you get involved in the higher-level conversations around build-out and planning?

I’ve been part of the discussions since last February and participated in the first system integration testing. I missed the second, but we have started the third system integration testing.   

Props to Nicole Snethen and Steve Train for jumping in while you were out.  Do you feel like things have returned to normal and are where you want them to be?

Yes, Nicole and Steven really helped with leading the Finance team while I was out on paternity leave to take care of baby Wesley. For the most part, I am back in the groove but still going through a backlog of things that weren’t vital.  It’s hard for me to keep up with my emails. They keep coming in.

Share with the readers how you got into home brewing

It was a friend’s invitation, so I just got into it with them. It was fun and it taught me the process.  I attended the Greenbelt Brewer’s Association meetings for a couple years to improve myself and read several books on brewing.  At one time I had a passion for it but now only brew for special occasions because I like more variety than I can brew and drink.  I have made several friends who work in the brewing industry, one at Fifty/Fifty and the other is at Almanac, so I’ve leveraged them when I have questions. 

Is your fantasy to start a brewery and be the head brewer?

My wife always told me, “If you get into the industry, don’t open a brewery. It’s too labor intensive.  Open a bottle shop.”  (Kind of like the one we have in Davis.)  One of my friends opened a brewery in San Leandro but it closed during the pandemic, and they were niche and unable to compete.

So, what qualifications does someone need to work on your team?  Can you take someone off the street and train them?

I’d hope we can.  It can start as an entry-level position. That’s how I started; I didn’t have any purchasing experience. But basic arithmetic skills is always good because you need the ability to back-calculate percentages and stuff like that.  What can be helpful is if you have a background in organizational purchasing.  There’s a benefit to having someone who has the knowledge and skills but not necessarily the experience because they can be molded.  I didn’t have a purchasing background, so my learning was very step by step: “Here, go do this” kind of thing.  I learned through the policies specific to UC Davis versus someone who comes from a State job or Google. They can be more focused on how they previously did things. “This is how we did it, so this feels wrong to me” kind of thing.  It’s an interesting field.