Globe-Trotting Aussie Lands at Chamber Center

National Journal
Mark Elliot attributes his marriage to his schnauzer, Beatrix. Last year, Elliot was sitting in a Manhattan coffee shop with Beatrix when she “said hello” to another patron, lawyer Mona Touma. Today, the couple is married with a 6-month-old daughter.

This week, Elliot was named executive vice president of the Global Intellectual Property Center, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The center was established in 2007 and is focusing this year on combating the proliferation of “rogue websites,” illicit purveyors of copyrighted and otherwise protected property.

Intellectual-property theft is the scourge of software companies, record labels, movie makers, and drugmakers, not to mention the government. The center estimates that curtailing piracy would boost federal tax revenues by more than $8 billion.

Elliot came to the chamber’s program from Pfizer’s headquarters in New York, where he oversaw the pharmaceutical company’s public affairs in countries that provide universal health care, including Western European nations, Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, and New Zealand.

As a former policy adviser in the Australian federal government, Elliot was well-suited to this portfolio. “Australia has the oldest universal health care system in the world, and a very complex system,” Elliot said. “The theory was, if you can get your head around the Australian system, you can get your head around any system.”

Elliot, 44, was raised by his mother, a hospital chaplain, in Sydney. (His father, the CEO of a shipping company, died when Elliot was an infant.) After studying politics at the University of Wollongong, he spent six years in the government of New South Wales (“doing everything from policy to communications”) before arriving in Canberra, the Australian capital, in 1995.

As chief of staff and media adviser to the member of parliament representing Canberra, Elliot was the legislator’s liaison to the Federal Press Gallery, the Federal Public Service, the government of the Australian Capital Territory, and other interested parties. After a stint as chief of staff to the parliamentary secretary for the environment, he became a media adviser for the Office of the Prime Minister, where he managed the federal government’s radio and television activities in New South Wales.

But after nearly a decade in public service, Elliot “was in that space where I [would] either run for office or move to the private sector.” After stops at IBM Global Services Australia and Solution 6 Group (then Australia’s largest information-technology company), he became a top executive at Pfizer Australia.

In 2004, when the United States and Australia ratified a free-trade agreement, Elliot encountered Bill Morley, then the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s vice president of congressional affairs, who regaled him with stories about the organization he considered America’s preeminent lobbying group for the business community. That was Elliot’s “first serious brush” with the chamber, which he would track for much of the ensuing decade. “The chamber genuinely has a global reputation,” he said.

In 2009, Elliot was promoted to Pfizer’s headquarters in New York City. “I wasn’t married at that stage, so all I had with me was Beatrix.” Skateboarding was a resurgent trend at the time, and he “had a second childhood, dusting off my skateboard” in Manhattan’s East Village. (Elliot also surfs, but “there aren’t a lot of waves in New York.”)

Alas, don’t expect to see Elliot coasting down Constitution Avenue now that he has relocated to Washington. “Learning how to be a dad is all-consuming.”

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