As the oldest of five children, parent of three, and leader of one of the largest software developers in Massachusetts for 28 years, the role of mentor has been a natural and lifelong post for Mark Ain.
The son of business-savvy parents — a self-employed father, a mother who was one of the first women to graduate from Columbia Law School, and entrepreneurial grandparents — Ain exhibited his own entrepreneurial spirit and leadership skills early in life. Growing up on Long Island, New York, Ain took an active role in raising his younger siblings.
After graduating from high school, where he was on the varsity wrestling team, captain of the math team, and passionate about photography, Ain went on to college at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he knew he would eventually start his own company, telling classmates, "I will make my own way and be successful."
In addition to a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from MIT, Ain earned a master's degree in business administration, with a concentration in organisational development and marketing, from the Simon School at the University of Rochester.
After a variety of jobs including a stint with Digital Equipment Corporation and a small market research firm, Ain grew tired of the corporate game and weary of relinquishing creative ideas only to see them not executed to their full potential. He began a quest for the right product idea to start a company. During this period, he was an independent management consultant, focused on strategic planning, product development, and market research for technology companies. It was then that the mechanical time clock came to his attention. With the idea to put a microprocessor inside a time clock, Ain set to work on a prototype.
On October 31, 1977, Kronos was incorporated, named for the Greek word for time. In June 1978, after an initial round of angel capital funding, the company moved into an old ironworks plant in Brighton, Mass. Including the proceeds of its 1992 initial public offering, the company raised only $19 million in funding — a remarkably small amount for what is now a billion-dollar company.
Ain led Kronos from 1977-2005, to become one of the world's most successful software companies. Under Ain's leadership, Kronos sustained one of the longest records of growth and profitability in the software industry and earned the reputation as the market leader in workforce management.
Today, as a member of the Board of Directors, Ain remains involved in Kronos operations. He also serves on the board of directors of several public, private, and charitable organisations. On a personal level, Ain enjoys supporting a number of charitable organisations.
Ain's success can be credited in part to his quiet and humane management style, which is best reflected by a motto of philosopher Lao-Tzu: "A leader is best when people barely know he exists. Not so good when people obey and acclaim him. Worse when they despise him. But of a good leader who talks little, when his work is done and his aim fulfilled, they will say, 'We did it ourselves.'"
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