Conversations With Our CEO – A New Series

Fíonta was excited to welcome Mark Patterson as our new CEO in April! We will be sitting down with Mark on a quarterly basis to have a freeform conversation and we invite you to follow along.


Natalie Murchison (NM): Hi. I am Natalie Murchison, Resource Manager here at Fíonta, and today, I’m talking with our CEO, Mark Patterson. Hey, Mark.

Mark Patterson (MP): Hey, Natalie, how are you?

NM: I’m good. How are you?

MP: I’m doing great, thank you.

NM: Excellent. To begin, Mark, tell me a bit about yourself.

MP: I’m a technologist at heart, and I’ve spent the first part of my career building software and custom solutions for companies, and I really love the way that technology can be used to help organizations move their businesses forward, and I also get a lot of pride out of seeing what I’ve done, and that work of my teams, being used by real people.

The latter part of my career, I’ve been building and leading teams, mostly for startups. I love small companies. They really give you an opportunity to wear a lot of hats and make a big difference.

NM: Mark, you have a lot of experience working with associations. Tell me a bit about that.

MP: Yeah, so I spent the last almost 10 years of my career working for a software company called Aptify, which produced membership management software for associations, mostly large ones. We worked with mostly professional societies that represented doctors and dentists and veterinarians and CPAs, and almost anything you can think of. There’s a saying in the association market that there’s an association for everything, and I think we worked at least one of each.

But it was really my first experience working for purpose-driven organizations, and I really loved that. Part of the reason why I’m here.

NM: Excellent. What are some commonalities between the technology needs of associations and those of non-profit organizations?

MP: Yeah. The business models between non-profits and associations are definitely a little bit different, but one thing that they’ve got in common is you have to manage supporters. Those would be donors or volunteers on the non-profit side. It might be members and even things like volunteers on the association side.

But one thing that they have in common is they need a CRM system, typically, to help them manage all that, whether it’s managing them, whether it’s scheduling events, doing all the communications they need to do. One other thing that they have in common is, even though non-profits have very similar requirements to one another, each one is unique in its own way, and the off-the-shelf software doesn’t get them all the way there, so companies like Fíonta, I think, have a very important role to play in helping them complete a solution that works for their business.

NM: On that note, what attracted you to Fíonta?

MP: Yeah, well, I knew I wanted to stay in the industry and continue to work with associations and non-profits that really advanced important causes, so I met the founders of Fíonta, and over a series of months, I’ve really got to know them pretty well and realized that we had a lot of the same ideas about what we’re here for and how we wanted to do it. That sort of alignment of values is really important to me, so that’s what’s led me just to come.

NM: Excellent. Well, you’ve completely dived right in here to life at Fíonta. Tell me a bit about the role of a CEO here.

MP: Well, all I’m trying to do right now is get to know our team, get to know our customers, and get to know our business, and that’s been a lot of fun. I’m very, very fortunate that Fíonta has…It’s a great business. We have a very committed team. We’ve got some great customers. Really, my goal moving forward is to put us on a path of steady growth moving forward, and that’s by reinforcing our culture, and by just putting some structure around the way we run the business.

NM: Excellent. Well, we really value work-life balance here at Fíonta. Tell me a bit about what you like to do in your free time.

MP: Well, I don’t have a whole lot of free time right now, Natalie. We’re actually in the process of selling our house in the suburbs and moving down here in the city, in D.C., so we’re spending a lot of time getting ready for that, but I am a do-it-yourselfer, so I really enjoy home improvement projects. Even if it’s cheaper and faster to have somebody else do it, I like putting my mark on things. We also love to travel, and I think that between that and locally, visiting breweries and wineries, we stay pretty busy.

NM: What’s your favorite place to visit?

MP: Well, we’re planning a trip later this year to Asia, so we’ll be going to Japan, and then to Korea, where one of our sons is currently living, so we’re very much looking forward to that.

NM: Very cool. All right, well, thank you so much for speaking with me, Mark.

MP: That was a pleasure, Natalie. Thank you very much.

NM: All right. And thank you for watching. We’re going to be checking in with Mark on a semi-regular basis, so we hope that you tune in next time.

MP: All right. Bye-bye.

NM: Bye.