Jeromy Giacosa of Accriva Diagnostics discusses what he thinks should be the chief focus of IT directors, hiring challenges he’s faced and mistakes he’s made…and learned from.

We’ve published excerpts recently of interviews Sean Ferrel and his team at Managed Solution conducted with Todd Stewart, VP of global infrastructure and IT operations for Western Digital, and Gavriella Schuster, corporate vice president, one commercial partner with Microsoft. With the start of the new year, we’re happy to share an interview Sean conducted with Jeromy Giacosa, IT director with Accriva Diagnostics.

Here are excerpts from the interview:

What’s the number-one area of focus IT directors should concentrate on?

I feel that directors should always focus on better, cost effective, and faster ways of doing business through the use of technologies. You should always be up-to-date on the latest technology trends. When I joined Accriva, IT was holding the company back. I was shocked to discover many systems and applications were over 10 years old and hadn’t been upgraded due to perceived complexities with process for approving changes through the quality department. I standardized, simplified, and upgraded the company’s IT infrastructure while working closely with quality to streamline the process for approvals to make changes with production systems. You have to look forward with technology. If you are looking back, your company is going to be left behind and any disadvantage in today’s market could be a huge loss for the company.

What’s your take on public cloud?

I believe the cloud has pros and cons like any solution and it should be used if it aligns with the business needs. If you are a small company you can give the appearance of being large by having some of the tools and uptimes of the larger organizations. You do not have to manage any of the day-to-day support of cloud-based systems which saves the company a lot of time and money. I recently did some work for a small company that has offices all over the world and I recommended that they go with a complete cloud solution from virtual desktops to servers to maximize efficiencies for the workers all over the world. At my current company, we use the cloud for systems where it makes sense like Office 365 for e-mail and Google Cloud for our R&D department. However, most of our systems including ERP, Document Control, Active Directory, File Services, etc. are hosted internally.

Are there any hiring challenges?

Thankfully, in this day and age, the knowledge base of the applicants is rarely a worry. When I hire people, I like to take them to lunch and have key staff members join us to see if they think they can work with this person I am considering. It is not always a perfect fit so I like to ask them key questions to understand their strengths. Documentation was lacking when I first came to Accriva so I made sure that the person I hired was a good fit but also had a strong background in documentation. Ideally, I like to find candidates with passion, intelligence, integrity, and communication skills in addition to technical competence. Once hired, to be successful, associates require responsibility, accountability, authority, and autonomy.

What kind of messaging is coming from the CEO about their partnership with IT? What are they expecting you to look at?

IT can be challenging because the CEO and other C-level executives turn on their devices and expect them to work the way they want them to work 100% of the time. They have some idea of what my job entails, but they do not know the day to day. If I am doing my job right, they do not have to be bothered with the day to day. My job is simple. Everyone in the company should think the technology is just their and not give it another thought. When things do go wrong, it should be minutes and hours, never days, to get things right. You do this by engaging the CEO with your vision of seamless technology, meaning that no one should ever be idle in the company for any period of time. If one person is not working that means the company is not being productive and the company is not making any money which makes it difficult to ask for additional funds to further streamline systems. CEOs are looking for faster, cheaper, and better processes so the company can maximize profits. You can do this by standardizing, centralizing, and simplifying your environment while maximizing the use of technology to your company’s advantage which I am proud to say I have accomplished at every organization I have worked with.

What mistake have you learned from?

One mistake I learned from over my career is determining how quickly to let an associate go (terminate their employment). It’s common knowledge to hire in haste, regret in leisure; but something I learned is to focus time and energy on my top performers and for those that don’t cut it let them go as quickly as possible. I realized that by keeping certain people around, it was bringing my entire team down. If someone is not working out, cut them loose. Otherwise, their attitude goes viral and, before you know it, your whole team is dysfunctional.

There are certain traits that are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to change and you either have them or you don’t which includes: passion, intelligence, integrity, and communication. I look for these traits when I hire or build teams because these traits cannot be taught or learned. Technical competence is only part of the puzzle and to have a fully functional team begins with the right team members who can then be inspired, encouraged, led, and managed for personal and professional growth which leads to meeting department and corporate objectives for the success of the team and the company.

(Editor’s note: To read the full interview with Giacosa, click here.)

-- Sean Ferrel, Managed Solution