Matt Melbrech is vice president of IT for CoorsTek, Inc., where he heads the global IT organization. Headquartered in Golden, Colorado, CoorsTek is a privately held, family-owned global provider of engineering ceramics and advanced materials to customers in a variety of industries from semiconductors and energy and defense to medical devices, agriculture and household goods. It employs more than 5,000 people worldwide, with expected revenues of more than $ 1 billion.
Mehlbrech’s team of around 100 technologists manages IT resources, systems and processes – from ERP and production-related systems to infrastructure and information security.
CoorsTek IT won the CIO 100 Innovation Awards in 2021 and 2022 for their use of advanced IoT analysis and machine learning to connect production machines at the company’s 25 production sites around the world and for an integrated system strategy for “model plant” “.
Melbreck joined CIO Leadership Live’s Merifran Johnson in a recent episode of CIO Leadership Live to discuss these award-winning projects, how Melbreck has restored IT’s trust in the business, and how it retains the best talent. What follows are edited excerpts from this conversation. For more of Melbreck’s insights, watch the full interview below.
When performing a reversal:
[When] I entered [in 2017], we had a lot of really good talent in the organization, but we really weren’t as connected to the business as we should have been. Honestly, we were removed from many tables because we were just fighting this commitment and we had to regain some confidence.
At that time we attracted a lot of people in the middle of our careers, people with experience. They started working because we just had a lot of work to do. Now we have started to focus a little more on talent development and try to keep going where the business needs us.
Regarding strategies for retaining IT talent:
Are we really focusing on how to give people challenging tasks? Give them things that are fun to work on and move the needle for company. So, we make a strategy every year and we spin while the business is spinning. We are constantly looking for ways to put people in new roles – to stretch them, to develop them.
The other thing is to really try to be focused and transparent and overly communicative at times. We have full meetings where we share what is happening with the business. And we are talking about different strategies and challenges that we are all facing. And we also like to celebrate victories … there are many victories that happen all the time. And I think it’s important for people to see that and recognize it.
On building trust:
[When I joined CoorsTek, it was clear that] we had to do a little more business relationship management. We did a lot more listening and understanding of what the business was looking for.
The world is based on IT and we need to be experts – as much as we can – in other people’s functions and understand how to support them and be a strategic advisor. And so it was really about putting people in place and coordinating with our sales teams, our operations teams, human resources, finances. Really embed people as much as we can.
The other part was that we needed to learn how to deliver more efficiently. And we’re far from perfect, but we’ve become much, much better at, I’ll call it, the basic type of ITIL processes, just basic rigor for load management.
To obtain information from machine data:
Our machine connection project started a few years ago as a small pilot. And what we are talking about is trying to provide real-time data on what is happening in our machines so that our operators and our shift managers and our plant managers can really see what is happening. .
This project has created a bit of a flywheel pulling effect where everyone is asking us to connect more and more machines. And now we have a north of 600 machines connected around the world.
This is also part of a broader strategy we have had around what we call a model installation. And this is how we modernize our workshops to make our operators more efficient and to make our managers and supervisors more able to make decisions.
To be a data steward:
As part of our data analysis strategy, we are very focused on incorporating what we call collaborative BI or collaborative analysis. And that means I don’t want every request to change a report or data to come unnecessarily through the IT feature.
There are many brilliant people who perform our various functions and it is important to help them be successful and take advantage of some of the abilities they have. And so many of them are just looking for data. And we can be guardians of getting them to qualified data sets.
This article originally appeared in the CIO’s Center Stage newsletter. Register today!
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