You know the name, now get to know the person! Tony Marks, director of Product Zone, talks about his love of Irish whiskey, Hong Kong, and keeping in touch with Elton John

How and when did you start your career in the industry?

I had come from the world of professional football merchandise – at first, as a buyer for Watford FC (10 years) and Chelsea FC (five years). I then set up a company to supply the clubs, originally direct before growing into the largest licensed souvenir company of its day. I then decided that I needed a new challenge and sold the company to my partner, formed Product Zone in February 2006, and have grown from there…

What’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you at work?

Working at Watford FC throughout the 1980s, meeting (and remaining in touch with) Elton John.

Which three words would your friends use to describe your personality?

Smiley, laidback and stressed, all in one go.

We know who’s on Tony’s Christmas card list this year... [Image: SilverBullitt under CC-BY-2.0 licence]

We know who’s on Tony’s Christmas card list this year… [Image: SilverBullitt under CC-BY-2.0 licence]

Tony loved this amazing ‘Statue of Hands’ sculpture in Kowloon, Hong Kong

Tony loved this amazing ‘Statue of Hands’ sculpture in Kowloon, Hong Kong

What’s your favourite word or phrase?

No worries.

Salt and vinegar or cheese and onion?

Cheese and onion all day long!

Which tune can’t you get out of your head at the moment?

‘Yellow’ by Coldplay.

What’s your hidden talent?

Storytelling of my adventures.

What’s your greatest ambition?

To eventually get to Australia to see my cousin, who I grew up with and haven’t visited yet, since he has lived there for over 20 years…

Irish whiskey is one of Tony’s guilty pleasures, although sweets are a close second!

Irish whiskey is one of Tony’s guilty pleasures, although sweets are a close second!

Tony is determined to visit his cousin’s ‘new’ home in Australia

Tony is determined to visit his cousin’s ‘new’ home in Australia

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Irish whiskey, and literally any type of sweets.

Is there another job you’ve always wanted to do?

To be honest, I’ve had some amazing jobs and don’t think I would change a thing.

Where is the best place you’ve ever visited?

Hong Kong.

Which gadget or app couldn’t you live without?

My Surface Pro laptop.

If you could ask one person (living or dead) one question, what would you ask?

Phil Knight, the founder of Nike: what kept you going through all the setbacks you had?