Pantheon Community

WebOps Wednesday AMA: Nate Finch

Hey y’all, I’m Nate! I’ve been building websites and web applications for people, non-profits, embassies, and businesses since 2012. I’ve mostly used WordPress for my clients, but I’ve also started using other tools like Laravel and Gatsby more recently to give folks the best experience possible. I really love doing this. It’s the perfect mix of problem solving, helping people, and life-long learning I call this the Trifecta of Goodness:nerd_face:!

While I’ve mostly freelanced, working through platforms like toptal and Codeable, as well as a brief stint as a web engineer with 10up, I’m now VP of Development at The Digital Ring, a digital marketing agency based in Madison, Wisconsin. I split my time between slinging code, contributing in meetings, and developing our developers. I’m incredibly proud to work for this company. I’d previously sworn off working in an office, but the people I work with are some of the best folks on the planet!

I’m an avid learner and have made a habit of collecting masters degrees. I have three: a masters of business administration, a masters of divinity, and a masters in citizenship and human rights: ethics and politics, which I got while living in Barcelona, Spain.

My wife and I got married in 2010. We love traveling. I’ve been to six continents (not Antartica… yet!), lived on four, most recently in South Korea from 2012 to 2017. I speak Spanish and I’m varying degrees of conversational in a couple other languages. I love cooking and trying new recipes. My wife and two daughters (3 years old and 8 months old), friends, food, coffee, and smoking meats (or tofu!) are basically my favorite activities outside of work.

Ask Me Anything! Maybe something like…

  • What was the biggest culture shock of your life?
  • What was the tastiest or most interesting thing you’ve cooked recently?
  • What’s the best way to see a new city/town?
  • How do you think the tech culture in Madison is different from other cities?

Hi @finchproservices! I am curious about the tech scene in Madison. I’ve lived my life up and down I-94 (Milwaukee, Chicago, Milwaukee again, and now Minneapolis) but I haven’t spend a ton of time in Madison. How does it compare to other Midwest cities or the coasts?

Do you have vacation destination recommendations from your travels?


:wave: Hi @finchproservices , thanks for doing an AMA!

I’m interested in hearing about the four different continents you’ve lived in and what the experience of so many different places was like! Did you have a favourite? And are you planning a trip to Antartica in the future? :smiley:

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Great question, @steve.persch ! There’s a lot here in tech, expecially bio-tech. Epic is based just south of Madison in Verona, and there’s a ton of other companies around here. A good reference is this site we created for one of clients here. So, while we might focus on sites and apps, there’s a lot of tech going on in and around Madison.

Haha, for travels, I think I’d always recommend Bali and Sydney. Bali has some of the best food I’ve ever had (it’s a perfect cross between south Asian and Thai food). Sydney was just… so nice. I wish we’d made it to New Zealand.

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Hey @finchproservices :wave:

So great to virtually meet you! I am also a world-traveler! 49 states & 20+ countries to be exact :world_map: Although being a puppy mom now, my travels have been put on hold. I am interested in knowing where you’ve been to! If you had to pick a top 3, what would those be?

I also believe in the Trifecta of Goodness :slightly_smiling_face: Growing up my mom called this “love vibes.” She used to always say, you receive the energy you give out so be kind, help others & always challenge yourself to grow. Let’s just say I was fortunate to have such a wonderful role model & best friend growing up.

Anyways, thanks for dropping in to share!


Hahaha, good question @fatima.khalid ! I actually am not a fan of the cold, so I’d want to just set foot in Antartica, look around, say hi to some penguins, and get the heck outta there! :laughing:

I feel pretty fortunate to have spent so much time out of North America. We loved living in South Korea, probably the safest place I’ve ever been. I really miss and loved living in Barcelona, the world goes to that city! Super easy to get around Europe from there as well.

The people though are what makes a place. I’ve never been more taken care of than by my host brother when I was living in Morocco (also he was a great chef!), and some of the best friends we’ve made in South Korea we have a “Konglish” relationship with (we don’t speak perfect Korean, and they don’t speak perfect English).

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@McKennaR I like that: “love vibes”, hahaha…

Top 3 places to visit, see things, and dabble in the culture:

  • Morocco (specifically Fes, highly recommend spending 6 weeks studying Arabic at ALIF)
  • Bali, seriously, the food :yum:
  • Sydney, just a ton of amazing things

Top 2 places to live, make a home base, and really dig in:

  • Seoul: great tech hub, highly accessible for English speakers, great jumping off point to the rest of Asia and Oceania
  • Barcelona: wonderful folks, lots of language learning opportunities, also easy to get around to other places

Wow, that’s awesome! I did a semester abroad in Seoul while in university and although I’m not as well-traveled as you and McKenna - it was a really great and memorable experience. I really miss the people and the food - being there so long there were certain comfort foods that I wish I could eat nowadays. I’ve been attempting to make banchan, but it’s not always as good as I remember or can buy readymade but it’s always pricey to buy those.

Where in South Korea did you live? What was your favourite food there?

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@fatima.khalid that’s awesome! We lived in and around Seoul for 5 years, first in Hanam-si, then in Itaewon (my wife was teaching at one of the international schools close by, so we were able to get housing included). It’s funny, the international food in Itaewon was so good, but you had to get out of that neighborhood to get decent Korean food :laughing:.

Yeah, definitely miss some of the comfort foods, especially street foods like “egg bread” and spicy friend chicken nuggets… Sooooooooo good.

Favorite foods were always: kalmegi-sal, jajang-myeon, twengjang-jigae, and yukgae-jang. Mmmmmmmmmmmm… You?


Hi, Nate! What a fun AMA so far, loving all the travel stories. :heart_eyes:

I would love to know how your various masters degrees impact your work & your day-to-day. Do you find that they influence the work you do at the Digital Ring?

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Morocco is amazing! I was only there for a short trip, but six weeks studying Arabic in Fes sounds dreamy.


Oh, the international food in Itaewon was awesome ! I always went there to eat pakistani food if I felt really homesick. Most of the foreigners I would see would be in that area too.

I was studying at HanyangU and lived at Golden Forest Residence in Wangshimni. I really liked going to Paris Baguette in the morning to eat pineapple custard buns! Also hotteok, jjukkumi gui with a lot of cheese, jajang-myeon, and the sweet + sour fried chicken bucket - my classmates and I would order it by the river, it was so nice! I ate a lot of fast food :laughing:

I just moved to Berkeley from Ottawa so I can find places to eat and get korean food again! I’ve been going and getting little readymade containers of seasoned seaweed and musaengchae to satisfy my cravings haha.


@fatima.khalid hahaha, we used to get all that and go to the river too! It’s too easy in Seoul :smiley:

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Right, exactly! I was just telling @sparklingrobots about how you can order delivery from the banks of the Hangang River and they’ll come to your GPS location to deliver your chicken box. It was so convenient :laughing:

I felt so technologically-advanced and spoiled at the same time :joy:


@sparklingrobots haha, good question! :thinking:… well:

The MBA is kind of a middle-management degree, not entrepreneurial CEO-y or anything, so I would say that helped me get a good grasp on the “above and below” of managing people and projects, as well as the nitty-gritty of spreadsheets, budgets, accounting, etc.

The MDiv is a pretty beefy degree, but is meant for pastors and leaders, so there’s some overlap there, but, since I’m in charge of the dev team, I’d say part of that job is caring for and helping grow and develop the devs on our team. It’s probably easy to be “all business”, but our team is made up of people with lives, families, kids, mortgages, hobbies, etc. So, having a more wholistic disposition towards my teammates in that sense hopefully with help build them into stronger individual devs and reinforce our team as a whole.

The MA also included an internship with an NGO (I did that internship in Barcelona with a group working with mostly Moroccan immigrants, it was pretty cool). So, I think it gives me empathy towards the non-profits we work with who are consistently under resourced. Instead of brushing them aside, trying to better figure out what they need and what we can do with their budgets. Also, I think that degree (the first masters I got) serves as a good foundation and lense to view the rest of the work we do through.

Awesome answer. As somebody with an Anthropology degree, I am always surprised when my “unrelated” learning pops up in my work at Pantheon. It sounds like a common thread of leadership and compassion–both great things to excel at. Thanks for answering!

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Sorry for the delay!

Ohhh Bali! That has been on my list for some time now :slight_smile: I hear it is amazing! Maybe I will finally make it there in 2020 :woman_shrugging: I think it’s safe to say I know who to reach out for stellar recommendations!

Also, Barcelona :heart_eyes: ONE OF MY FAVORITE PLACES! Gosh, we’ve got to exchange some travel stories soon!