The Eclectic Career of Mary Ann Burns

From journalism to futures to the brewery business, the former Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Futures Industry Association (FIA) , Mary Ann Burns has had an eclectic career.

Mary Ann Burns is the former COO of FIA and she was the latest guest on FIA’s podcast with the current FIA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Walt Lukken.

Burns graduated from Purdue University in the State of Indiana with a degree in journalism.

Her first job was nowhere near the futures industry, but as a copywriter at Carson Pirie Scott in Chicago.

“On my lunch hour, I used to go over to the board of trade and watch the action,” Burns said.

Burns was referring to the Chicago Board of Trade; she said her husband had a good friend who worked at Heinold Commodities who then got Burns a job at the CME.

When she started, she was the only female runner on the floor for Heinold.

“I worked at Heinold for several years, both running orders and then in their research department,” Burns said.

Lukken asked if she ever thought about being a trader.

“I think the first cattle trade I made cured me of wanting to be a trader,” Burns admitted.

Burns said that she first worked with FIA when in the early 1980s FIA hired her to consult on their Expo.

The most recent Expo occurred on October 29-31, 2019.

“Then, along the way, as different projects came up, they said maybe Mary Ann can do it. So, they lost the editor of their magazine, so they said, ‘maybe Mary Ann can do it.’”

Burns said her first full-time role was as the Communications Director for FIA, using her journalism background.

That job took her to Washington D.C.

Burns has held many roles at FIA but said her work with technology was what she was most proud of.

“I think the most exciting thing I did with no technology background was starting FIA Tech and that was because the industry had a messy process over give up agreements and they desperately needed a way to get that to go more smoothly,” she said.

Fixing that issue, Burns said technology was used to fix other issues.

“That started the whole parade of if you can fix that maybe you can fix payment. So, it was just an incredible experience to work with the industry to solve real problems,” she said.

Lukken noted that FIA Tech continues to solve industry problems, “FIA Tech is well positioned for the next phase of what it might solve for the industry.”

FIA Tech, “is a wholly-owned subsidiary of FIA, the global trade association for futures, options and centrally cleared derivatives markets. We collaborate with the global futures industry to improve operational efficiency via integrated, cloud-based systems.  FIA Tech provides key services and processes including managing legal agreements, settling brokerage, meeting compliance requirements and automating reconciliation,” according to its website.

After twenty-three years at FIA, Burns has moved into a whole new business.

She now runs a family run- with her husband and son- craft brewery.

That is Old Ox Brewery based in Northern Virginia.

Burns said one transition is she is no longer an industry heavyweight.

“My biggest complaint is that I call people up and say, ‘this is Mary Ann Burns’ and they say, ‘who cares.’” Burns said.