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How a Tech Background Hones Business Sense

Peter High

8-17-2016

Excerpt from the Article:

Dan Fallon’s journey from CIO to board member to president and COO has been an interesting one. Fallon, who now serves as the president and COO of GFMI Metalcrafters, credits his strong tech background for understanding how many moving parts work together (and very often, don’t). GFMI (Gaffoglio Family Metalcrafters Inc.) was founded in 1979. An Argentinian father and his sons brought to the U.S. their passion for crafting custom cars. The Metalcrafters division helps engineer and those who create custom vehicles for the auto, aero and rail industries primarily. These can be prototypes to full functioning vehicles, including driverless. The Aerospace division creates glass, carbon fiber and other composite parts for the aerospace, auto and rail industries. Additionally, the Camera Ready Parts division prepares cars for photo shoots and commercials, including logistics management.

After 22 years at Accenture, the CTO role at Navistar and CIO role at Rewards Network, among other IT leadership roles, Dan Fallon was looking for a change that would offer more operational experience. He was convinced to join GFMI Metalcrafters as president and COO in September of 2014. In this interview with CIO Insight contributor Peter High, he highlights the reason for this move.

CIO Insight: How did you become affiliated with it as President and COO?

Dan Fallon: I have known GFMI (Gaffoglio Family Metalcrafters Inc.) for more than 20 years. My father-in-law, Mike Alexander, had worked with the Gaffoglio family for many years. Mike and his brother, Larry, were the Alexander Brothers; ground-breaking, Detroit custom car guys from the late 1950s and Mike, later in his career, worked with GFMI on select projects. Mike’s son, Mike Jr., wound up working at GFMI. In 2014, Mike asked if I’d consider joining the company to help significantly grow revenue. To run a company while growing it was where I wanted to be next. After 22 years at Accenture, and five years in IT leadership positions at a couple Fortune 500 companies, I wanted to get completely immersed in business operations. Running a smaller company seemed to be the ideal—yet humbling—way for me to do so. Wow, have I learned a lot and enjoyed it. And I’m very grateful for my IT background.

CIO Insight: In recent years, you had been CTO at Navistar and CIO at Rewards Network. What did your time as a technology executive do for you in preparing for your current role as COO?

Fallon: Like Finance and HR, IT gets to “see” a very broad swath of the business, yet I believe at an even deeper level. Successful IT leaders have to understand business execution (processes, schedules and results) and where information and automation can change and accelerate execution. OK, we’ve heard that before—and it’s really hard, especially given ever-increasing competitive demands, legacy systems hangovers and the crazy challenges of changing tires on moving cars. So, as an IT guy—both ex-Accenture consultant and Fortune 500 executive—I got to see how all these moving parts work together—and very often, not. It’s like a mosaic in which some elements of the picture are clear and others are really mottled. As a result, I have this deep, innate appreciation for integration. It’s just a sense I have developed—where are the disconnects in data sharing, process performance and automated systems. So now, on yet another side of the table, COO, I can sense these disconnects; yet even more acutely because I am now directly responsible for getting it done. My time in IT helped me hone and deepen that sense which I think as a COO enables me to quickly zero in on those mottled mosaic pieces and more quickly figure out how to unblur them.

CIO Insight: What role does information technology play in your company?

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