Paul Stamas, vice president of IT, Mohawk Fine Papers

In a year when many of his peers battled the recession with cutbacks and project cancellations, Paul Stamas, vice president of IT at Mohawk Fine Papers Inc. in Cohoes, N.Y., spent even more money than he did in 2008 -- 10% more. Among other things, he helped his company implement a far-reaching system to track and improve energy conservation, integrated systems within a month of Mohawk acquiring a major competitor, expanded Mohawk's distribution network in Europe and launched a comprehensive e-commerce project to broaden the company's offerings to its customer base.

Stamas, 48, doesn't claim individual credit for any of those accomplishments, saying instead that they were due to the "empowered culture" at the private, third-generation family-owned company. "We're fast, agile, flexible and opportunist," he says. In that context, a budget increase "really means nothing," Stamas explains. "It means our CEO had an idea to do something and said, 'It's the right thing to do, so let's do it.' "

Turns out that Stamas, who has worked at the paper manufacturer for seven years, is a fine fit with that culture. "Paul doesn't just sit in his office and direct," says Mohawk's president, Jack Haren, who is Stamas' boss. "He's very hands-on and is a tremendous problem-solver and excellent communicator."

Stamas is a year into a doctorate of information management program at Syracuse University. He says he wants to get more deeply involved with the research aspects of IT, with a particular focus on cloud computing and service-oriented architectures at smaller companies.

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