Adam W. Noble, CIO, GAF Materials Corp.

When Adam Noble joined GAF Materials as CIO two years ago, he found IT's support for the business units spotty. "We were doing a pretty good job of supporting many parts of the business," he says. "But, for example, although we are a manufacturing organization, we didn't support manufacturing as well as we should [have]."

That called for a major overhaul, Noble says. "I totally changed the organizational structure," he says. "We added a portfolio management office, but the biggest thing we put in place was relationship managers, who are embedded in the business but work for me. We now support every single function in the business."

He got the IT department in shape just in time for a major acquisition, and that enabled Whippany, N.J.-based GAF to smoothly integrate the two companies' systems.

Companies often hire large systems consulting firms to oversee that process, he says, "but I decided that because of our culture and our skills, we would do a better job of managing the integration."

Noble says he was asked to help oversee the integration of not only system processes, but business processes as well. The merger is done now, but Noble has retained a number of non-IT responsibilities. "For example," he says, "we have annual meetings with our largest customers, and IT had never been a part of that. But now I'm involved in those strategic talks."

"Adam really structured the IT department specifically for the integration," says Tom Anderson, vice president of operations planning. "He kept it very much aligned to the different business functions. He coordinated things so tightly, it really kept things on track. That's why it was very successful."

Noble says that although many companies benchmark their IT spending as a percentage of revenue, he couldn't care less about that metric. "My perspective is, what are the projects that bring the greatest benefit to the business?"

Will Noble always be an IT person? "I see myself as a senior business executive who happens to have expertise in IT," he says.

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