Editor’s note: The NC Tech Awards is Nov. 6 and you can vote between now and Sept. 30 for the Tech Exec of the Year. The N.C. Technology Association is running interviews with each of the contenders throughout September. Take a look at who’s up, and vote here: http://www.nctechnology.org/polls/2014-poll.aspx The first interview features Mort O’Sullivan of Mebane-based ARCA.

  • Who is Mort O’Sullivan?

Mort O’Sullivan is the founder and CEO of ARCA.

  • What is ARCA?

It is a 16 year old, Mebane-based company that provides technology and services to help people control cash in bank branches, retail stores and self-service kiosks. Essentially? They have machines that automate the process of counting cash, making tellers, cashiers and businesses more efficient.

  • What has Mort done?

Mort has built ARCA from a one-man operation into a global company with offices in five countries. This is a man with one degree in Literature and Religion, one degree in chemistry – and master’s level work in brewing beer. Note the lack of the typical MBA.

When I asked him about that he said, “Without a business degree, you need initiative to start your own company. Would I have been hired to do this fifteen years ago? No. But I was willing to start my own, company and do the work to grow into the kind of executive it takes to lead this company.

  • What is he most proud of the company accomplishing this year?

ARCA implemented a new way of governing their company and making decisions. “We’ve spent the year reorganizing the work of the company as a Holocracy. It was a major initiative that builds on the concept of self-governance and autonomy.” According to Mort, they have been looking into this for the past three or four years, and realized that the company was ready for this change as a way to help them move forward quickly.

Holocracy.org says this new approach replaces the ”top-down predict-and-control paradigm with a new way of achieving control by distributing power… it instills rapid evolution in the core processes of an organization.” Zappos is probably the most famous (and largest) company that has adopted holacracy.

When I asked him if his passion for beer making is in any way tied in to the culture of this organization he said yes, “it keeps you from taking yourself too seriously. The culture we are building is one where we’re excited to show up at work every day. It’s fun but challenging, open and transparent.”

Three Cool Things about Mort:

  •  His favorite restaurant in the Triangle: Panciuto, Hillsborough, Chef Aaron Vandemark
  • What will he order every time it’s on the menu? Black Pasta with seafood.
  • Most recent non-corporate tweet? According to @mortosullivan: “Ripe cheese + roasted marshmallow. Amazing new flavor.”