How to manage a business during hyper growth

IT leadership helped double production and sales

clock • 2 min read
How to manage a business during hyper growth

One IT leader shares the tips he learned in managing a company through a period of intense growth.

Eric Tewey has worn a lot of executive hats throughout his career. He's been a CIO, CISO, CTO and CPO. Currently, he is the VP of Information Technology for Swisher Inc. - the world's largest cigar manufacturer and distributor.

During his now eight years leading IT operations at Swisher, Tewey has been instrumental in the company's impressive growth.

Swisher, which manufactures and sells approximately 3 billion cigars yearly, doubled production and sales in seven years with no price increases and a marginal increase in headcount.

Tewey shared his secrets for success and managing hyper growth during his executive session at MES Spring 2024, a flagship event for our North American sister brand MES Computing.

Swisher operates in a highly regulated space. So much so, that regulation and market pressure drove manufacturing out of the USA.

And Tewey shared the experience of many IT executives stepping into a new role: when he came onboard, he said, IT was not considered "strategic."  IT operations consisted of a "home-grown system based on ‘flat files' with a basic and crumbling infrastructure."

Tewey made moves to change directions. He said shifting the focus to data, which he needed "to tell the truth and be the star of the show," was key to igniting hyper growth.

He also said he had to convey to leadership the firm message that business transformation was not going to happen without IT.

These actions started Swisher on its way to becoming a "data-driven, decision-based company."

Tewey shared actionable tips for other IT executives to boost growth in their organisations:

Change the culture  

  • Lead innovation and solve tactical and strategic business challenges.
  • Make compliance easy and non-obtrusive to business operations.
  • Reduce the business' reliance on IT, and focus IT resources on driving the business forward.
  • Run IT as a business organisation, not a technology organisation.
  • Only look for a cloud solution if it makes sense.
  • View every system and solution through security guardrails.
  • Find partners, not vendors.
  • Measure, manage and improve everything – benchmark and compare with industry standards.

Fix the basics

  • Assemble the right team – one with high adaptability and even higher business acumen.
  • Create a clear and simple vision, tightly aligned with the business strategy.
  • Develop an attack mentality and get up to win every day.
  • Right the ship – fix the infrastructure, reduce noise and fix the business-facing experience.

Drive the business 

  • Don't wait around for the business to ask.
  • Simplify IT.
  • Eliminate, automate, and optimise support efforts.
  • Focus all non-support IT efforts on business core projects

In closing, Tewey left this additional advice: "IT-driven automation and process change" creates "increased operations capacity."

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