In this instalment of our profile series, dedicated to highlighting the impactful work of individuals and organisations in the non-profit sector, we spoke with Russell Magnuson, CEO of Results Direct and RD Mobile. 

With nearly three decades of experience, Russel shares with us the key questions essential for any NFP organisation considering a change project and why you need to be looking at a five-to-ten-year strategy. Additionally, you’ll discover intriguing facts about Russell and how an app can ensure the ideal cheese and wine pairing experience!

 

Could you introduce yourself and a bit about your organisation?

My name is Russell Magnuson, and I am the CEO of both Results Direct and RD Mobile. Results Direct has served the membership sector for almost 30 years and I’ve been with it since its inception. 

Results Direct delivers websites and website experiences to the membership sector, whereas RD Mobile is focused on delivering mobile apps, primarily in the event and the member app space.  

 

What has led you to focus on working within the membership sector?

We decided early on that we did not want to try and be all things to all people. We wanted to focus on the membership sector as some of our founders had experience in this space and we feel we were able to develop and provide a high-quality experience for the membership sector.  

We also felt that the organisations in the membership sector impact society in many ways. Therefore, we not only serve the membership sector but, in many cases, also serve the members of the different organisations. We view our work as helping them to amplify their message and their value to their members. 

 

To get to know you a bit better, could you please share something that you’ve really enjoy about your role, and something about yourself that your colleagues might be surprised to hear?

At this stage in my career, I really enjoy helping our staff develop professionally and deliver products and services to the sector. In addition, I enjoy talking to people in the sector and our partners and brainstorming about what the future might bring us. 

Personally, things that may surprise people is that I’m a licensed captain and merchant mariner. I really enjoy being out on the ocean and doing all things boating related. Additionally, I have a passion and an interest in learning Irish traditional music on the mandolin.

 

Digital projects inherently bring a lot of change. What would you advise an organisation who was looking to embark on a digital change project?

The first thing to know is that it’s harder than most people realise. So, my first piece of advice is that you need to get your organisation in a place where people are willing to entertain what the future might look like. A lot of projects start with a two or three year view, but you really need a five-to-ten-year view to uncover more insights. You need to be able to answer questions such as:  

  • What should we be doing in five to ten years?  
  • How is the industry going to change?  
  • How are our members going to change?  
  • What things are happening in society that are going to affect what we’re doing and how can we prepare our members for that? 

When it comes to being prepared for change, getting everybody on board with the possibilities can make a huge impact on the direction you take. You need to be able to get people excited about moving past the status quo and bring them together and ask the question; if we didn’t have a limitation, what would we do for our sector, profession or industry? This can reveal some exciting hidden opportunities that otherwise would not surface themselves. 

However, it can be challenging to bring people on board as organisations inherently have personalities. There will be individuals who have tightly held beliefs and others who want to change the world. Individuals will think about the impact on them, whether they will have to learn new things or change their ways of working and these can often be based on the fear of change. What I have seen to work well to overcome this, is having a facilitator. This is a role Hart Square can play in creating a safe space for individuals to not only share what they think will work well, but also their fears about the change too.  

 

Are there any upcoming or recent technologies that you think will change or disrupt the sector?

Currently, when somebody asks that question, you have to say the words AI. Certainly, I think AI is important as immediately it sets to improve user experience as well as searching for and locating information, but it’s still early days.  I do not believe we have begun to know how we can best leverage artificial intelligence.  

Today, we have a lot of good technology which will continue to develop and improve, so the question is; what should we be doing with it? We should be thinking about how we might apply technology to what we can already do rather than how things are somehow going to change everything.  

Is there a particular piece of work or activity that your organisation has carried out that you’re particularly proud of?

I take a lot of pride in how our work helps our customers, whether that’s helping membership organisations amplify their membership value or if they’re using one of our events apps, how it helps the value of going to that event.  

Over the years in the mobile space, we’ve been able to work on a couple of interesting projects. I am especially proud of our work for a cancer organisation which helped cancer patients manage their treatment. Navigating the complexities of cancer treatment can be overwhelming, often leading to overlooked details or confusion. The app we created empowered patients by providing a place to monitor symptoms, organise appointments, record doctor’s notes, and track medications.  It also facilitated the sharing of patient entries with healthcare providers or anyone who may be helping with their treatment, ultimately helping patients to effectively manage their treatment. 

We have also been able to work on some unusual projects including a project with the US Dairy Export Council where we created a cheese board app. The app helps you enhance your enjoyment of cheese even more by educating you on cheese and helping you pair the right cheese with the right wine – that was a lot of fun! 

 

Could you share a bit about your experiences of working with Hart Square?

Hart Square adds a lot of value to their clients and the sector by helping them to clarify their needs as well as exploring what is possible for their organisations. More importantly, Hart Square challenges organisations to uncover the ‘why’, why are they doing the project, why do they want this?  

As a technology partner, when we talk to an organisation that Hart Square has worked with, they have an increased awareness about why they are doing the project. This allows us as a technology partner, to have clarity on what we would be able to provide them and how we can help.