Meet Mark, Interact's Managing Director

One of our core values at Interact has always been to work with great people to help us achieve our ambitious goals of embedding healthy activity into communities.
To lead us in our journey, Mark Guildea joined us last year as our Strategy Director, guiding the team in its strategy and identifying growth opportunities for the business. Since then, Mark has been promoted to the role of Managing Director, where he now oversees Interact’s operations in the UAE.
Find out more about Mark below as he shares his mission at Interact, his passions outside of work, and how his London roots have led him to the UAE.
Mark Guildea, Managing Director
Mark Guildea, Managing Director of Interact UAE
Hi Mark! Before we get started, can you tell us a bit more about your background?

I grew up in Burnt Oak in North London where days were spent at the local park with friends playing football from sun up to sun down with anything that resembled a ball and I’ve maintained an obsession for the game ever since. I went to a state school on Grahame Park estate and returned there 15 years later as a PE teacher!

After going to university and completing a Master’s degree, I trained as a PE teacher at Brunel University before teaching and leading Physical Education in state schools for 5 years. I then returned to Brunel University as a lecturer in Sports Science and the PE teacher-training programme, having my first academic work published by Routledge in 2019. I also studied and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Leadership and Management with Edinburgh Napier University as well as achieving my UEFA coaching licenses in football.

In 2018, I moved to Dubai to take up a government position as National Teacher Training Lead for Physical and Health Education with the Ministry of Education before moving back to the UK in 2021. Deciding to go back into professional football, I worked for a short time at Fulham FC Boys’ academy before moving across to work at Chelsea FC Women’s academy for two seasons, then finally making the trip back to be in the UAE with Interact!

Mark Guildea presenting
Mark moved to Dubai in 2018 as a National Teacher Training Lead for Physical and Health Education with the Ministry of Education
You’ve worked with a wide variety of organisations throughout your career! So, why Interact?

Having worked with the Ministry of Education, I knew about the work of Interact. I knew that they cared about the health of young people and this resonated with me. My intrinsic motivation throughout my career has been to be proud of where I work and what I do. I can say without hesitation that I am very proud to work here and lead a great team!

My favourite thing about working for Interact is the people – colleagues that I genuinely regard as friends who push me to be the best version of myself.

Mark with Zu Gatward, Head of Operations
Mark with Zu Gatward, Head of Operations
What are you hoping to achieve at Interact?

Over 1 billion people on the planet are now obese (1 in 8 people, research shows). At Interact, we certainly don’t have a magic wand to change this overnight – but it is our mission and it is my personal passion to make the biggest dent in bringing down this unprecedented epidemic.

This starts with one child who runs The Daily Mile UAE; one child who is educated by the Spinneys Farm to Table programme; one child that is inspired by a Daman Hero, one child that completes a bound with citymoov.

I believe that every child in the UAE deserves those opportunities, so my vision is to widen the scope of our work to reach as many children as possible so that they aren’t just another negative statistic.

What have you been working on today?

An exciting partnership with a major health organisation. I love working with like-minded organisations who share our passion for change and I’m excited to finalise some new ideas that can expand our work through the partnership and help us to positively impact more young people.

Work aside, what do you get up to in your spare time?

I love to travel – I’ve been fortunate enough to visit 36 different countries so far – and counting! It’s exciting learning about new cultures and exploring places beyond the beaten track. Aside from this I love sport – obviously football, but anything that involves getting out and getting active works for me!