Q&A with Mark Spiteri, Chief R&D Officer at FinancialForce
Mark Spiteri is responsible for the Research, Software Development, Technology Strategy and Technical Support of FinancialForce’s product portfolio. Mark joins us with vast experience in running geographically dispersed engineering organizations and managing multi product portfolios. Mark has managed large teams across 10 countries during his tenure at Progress Software and at Software AG. Mark started off his career building up R&D from scratch in a startup – at Apama.
In this Q&A, we sit down with Mark to learn how he’s settling into our organization.
1) Welcome Mark! What do you think of FinancialForce so far? Any interesting first impressions?
Thank you, Sandy. I’ve now been here for a few weeks and I’ve had the opportunity to meet a wide selection of our people both in San Francisco and in Harrogate, and I’m presently on my first trip to Granada.
I’m very impressed with the people I’ve met so far at all these locations – I’ve seen passion, dedication, enthusiasm, great professionalism, and above all a great willingness to do everything possible to see our customers be successful. Everyone has been genuinely very welcoming and eager to work with and alongside me – and it’s invigorating!
2) As our Chief Development Officer, which teams do you oversee and what are some immediate priorities for you and your teams?
I have taken responsibility for all of R&D, which at FinancialForce encompasses our Research, Development, Architecture, and Technical Support groups.
These teams have been delivering some great software which have already made thousands of customers successful – so my goal is to help us scale, mature and become even more operationally effective.
As a first step we have already re-organised into 6 product centric groups, each led by a Product Engineering Manager, with product-focused User Experience, Quality, Architecture & Documentation functions. These will partner and align with our Product Managers to deliver innovative and world-class products that are best-in-class, and a pleasure to use! We are also establishing organisation wide Architecture and Quality groups, while strengthening our Development Operations function – this will all come together to drive best practice throughout our product organisation, while enabling us to accelerate and further develop our ERP platform strategy.
We shall also be embracing the principles of Lean Software Development alongside our Agile software development practices. This will help us become even more effective, while enshrining customer success and product quality at the heart of all that we do.
3) What are some of the strengths you’ve seen so far in your teams? What are things that really stand out?
We have a great mix of talent and skills, with keen technologists working alongside passionate domain experts. What has stood out for me is the passion and pride with which they hold their products, as well as the camaraderie and great working relationships between and across teams. It’s been great to observe how the teams in our four development centres come together so well, and on a daily basis, to design, build and deliver great products.
4) Tell us a little bit about yourself personally. What are some of your passions and hobbies? What do you like to do on weekends?
Sure! First of all I am Maltese, from the little and very beautiful Mediterranean island of Malta! I grew up and studied there, before moving to Cambridge to pursue a PhD. My first language is actually Maltese.
I’ve been lucky to have enjoyed a very varied career; working in academia, as a founding employee at a startup which grew to great global success, as well as in various senior roles at some large and established $1b+ software companies. I’ve also been privileged to work with great colleagues, managers and executives, many of whom are trusted friends today, to whom I’m very grateful for all that I have learnt from them.
My weekends are largely organised around spending quality time with my two young boys, who are aged 9 and 11 – although I do try to escape and do a bit of road cycling or mountain biking when I get the opportunity. My wife and I share a passion for history and architecture, and you’ll often find us exploring castles and grand old stately homes at the weekend (this last Sunday we went to see a re-enactment of medieval jousting!) – or just enjoying the beautiful and incredible landscapes of the many national parks throughout the British isles. I’m also a bit into my cars, and over the years have done quite a few road trips, including an epic trip to watch the 24-hour race at LeMans last year.