CIO Spotlight: Scott DuFour, FLEETCOR

What business or technology initiatives will be most significant in driving IT investments in your organisation in the coming year? "Our focus is on three areas: cybersecurity, digital innovation and general IT evolution."

Name: Scott DuFour

Company: FLEETCOR

Job title: Global Chief Information Officer

Date started current role: February 2019

Location: Georgia

Scott DuFour is the Global Chief Information Officer of FLEETCOR, a leading global provider of commercial payment solutions. Prior to joining FLEETCOR in February 2019, DuFour held several technology leadership roles at McKesson and was most recently the CIO for McKesson Europe, where he was responsible for all IT functions across 13 countries. Previously, he held IT and business leadership positions at Ingram Micro, Elemica Ltd., and Covalex.com Inc. His early career includes roles at Accenture and Sun Chemical.


What was your first job? I ran my own lawn mowing business when I was 14, which was technically my first job. My first professional role was with Andersen Consulting (now Accenture), which I began after completing my undergraduate education.

Did you always want to work in IT? My journey into IT was a little more organic rather than pre-planned. I was studying electrical engineering at the University of Michigan, where I had some exposure working in chip design. I found myself intrigued with the digital aspects of chip design in particular. That subsequently led to me discovering an interest in computers, which turned me onto computer science and IT.

What was your education? Do you hold any certifications? What are they? I earned my Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan and my MBA in Finance and Accounting from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Explain your career path. Did you take any detours? If so, discuss. After graduating college, I was a consultant with Andersen Consulting for roughly four and a half years. I was then hired by one of my clients - an opportunity that allowed me to both further my career and earn my MBA. My first detour came years later during the dotcom era, when I decided to leave corporate America and join a startup to serve as its chief technology officer. I enjoyed the environment quite a bit, eventually moving onto another startup called Elemica.

Elemica was likely my most significant career detour. I spent six years there, holding multiple positions including chief operating officer, which was the first time I had been in charge of P&L at a company. But I'm very proud of my time at Elemica, especially having helped the company survive the dotcom era. I take pride in knowing the company is still an entity today.

After Elemica, I was ready for a little more stability for my family's sake - I was a father of four by that time. That led me to get back on a more traditional, corporate IT career path, which eventually brought me to FLEETCOR.

What business or technology initiatives will be most significant in driving IT investments in your organisation in the coming year? Our focus is on three areas: cybersecurity, digital innovation and general IT evolution. The cybersecurity landscape is constantly evolving and growing more complex, so we believe it's important to have a continued investment in that area. The bad guys are always getting smarter - we're focused on constantly staying a step ahead of them.

Furthering our digital innovation is another priority, as we explore web-based and mobile apps and the potential of emerging technologies, like artificial intelligence, for our business. Investing in our digital innovation is both key to the advancement of our business as well as the value we can create for our customers.

Finally, evolving IT operations and infrastructure must be a constant for any 21st century business. We're committed to further modernising our technologies and refining our global IT operation, as we reinforce our position as a world-leading business payments company.

What are the CEO's top priorities for you in the coming year? How do you plan to support the business with IT? People development is a major, organisation-wide priority. I'm focused on continuing to strengthen my leadership team and overall IT staff - and cultivating a culture that positively impacts and influences our broader workforce as well. Our CEO Ron Clarke understands the role of culture and meaningful professional development in driving FLEETCOR's innovation, growth and success. We see a constant investment of time and effort in those areas as essential for both IT and across the board.

Innovation is another overarching priority for the company. From an IT standpoint, that means expanding our digital innovation and enabling better ways for our customers to manage payments. We're striving to use IT to evolve our products and better serve customers' changing needs, while ensuring robust IT structures and the right talent are in place to support our solutions.

Lastly, we're always asking ourselves the question: How do we become more agile? Not in the pure sense of implementing agile methodology, but in frequently assessing how we can run our current systems more efficiently and reduce our business-as-usual expenses - and free up that IT spend to invest even more in innovation.

Does the conventional CIO role include responsibilities it should not hold? Should the role have additional responsibilities it does not currently include? The role of CIO is evolving in parallel with a broader shift, as companies increasingly see their IT function as a driver for creating greater value. Gone are the days of IT professionals as order-takers - more is expected from them in terms of being integrated and understanding their organisation's business, and playing an active role in achieving company objectives. CIOs must especially own these responsibilities, bringing a deep understanding of the business, its customers, partners and more, to inform IT strategy. Coming from a financial services business like FLEETCOR where technology is our product, the CIO role means having a seat at the table to determine how we will develop new offerings, innovate existing solutions and deliver the most value to our stakeholders.

Are you leading a digital transformation? If so, does it emphasise customer experience and revenue growth or operational efficiency? If both, how do you balance the two? We're driving and investing in digital innovation across FLEETCOR, with a focus on further developing our products and engineering add-ons that create real value. As a leader in global business payments solutions, we see the quality of our customer experience and the strength of our revenue growth as products of our operational efficiency - so our approach to those areas is straightforward and not a matter of balancing priorities.

Describe the maturity of your digital business. For example, do you have KPIs to quantify the value of IT? We've successfully implemented multiple individual initiatives that have driven the maturity of our digital operations. Currently, our sights are set on how to best leverage these IT investments across our entire portfolio of businesses. This also calls for further expanding and bolstering our IT architecture and framework, which is an ongoing priority for FLEETCOR.

We have a number of ways we quantify IT value - the most straightforward being the KPIs we set around our digital sales channels. We are regularly assessing how our revenue is shifting between our sales and merchant channels, and IT plays an important role in driving up the metrics for the digital side.

What does good culture fit look like in your organisation? How do you cultivate it? IT is integral to the products that make up FLEETCOR's business. Our aim is to grow and maintain an environment of strong IT professionals that can help power and drive innovation at the heart of our company. The ideal culture fit at FLEETCOR features individuals in IT partnering and working closely with those on the business side, leveraging agile methodologies with a focus on using technology to create business value.

Historically, the disconnect between IT and business functions has always stood in the way of organisations achieving true operational efficiency. FLEETCOR's approach is all about changing that culture, breaking down the barriers and creating a uniform accountability across departments - ensuring IT professionals feel just as motivated and responsible for driving business growth and success.

What roles or skills are you finding (or anticipate to be) the most difficult to fill? The security landscape is changing constantly, which means the need for savvy security and cybersecurity talent is frequently evolving and ever-present. We're always on the lookout for experts to continue fortifying our security operations, especially given the nature of our company as a business payments leader and the services we provide our customers. We also see significant value in strong enterprise architects who can contribute to fueling our innovation - they are generally in high demand as well.

What's the best career advice you ever received? A professor once advised me, "Never be beholden to a job just for the money." His point was simple: People should work at jobs where they always have the freedom to voice opinions and be heard - rather than feel compelled by a paycheck to aimlessly follow their bosses and be ‘yes men'. I've heeded his advice throughout my career, pursuing and cultivating workplace environments full of strong-willed professionals who see the value their ideas and perspectives can bring to the table. 

Do you have a succession plan? If so, discuss the importance of and challenges with training up high-performing staff. I'm relatively new to my role at FLEETCOR, so a succession plan would be a bit premature at this stage. Regardless, my immediate focus is on the continued development of my leadership team. It's critical to spend time together, cultivate strong relationships and set the tone for what the expectations are - from both a cultural standpoint as well as the level of engagement necessary with our business.

What advice would you give to aspiring IT leaders? Unify IT and business functions. There's a reason agility is the collective aspiration for so many organisations today, irrespective of industry. Agility is more important than ever and achieving it requires breaking down the barriers between IT and business. IT professionals should be active participants in a company's growth trajectory and not serve some static, transactional purpose. Technology shouldn't be implemented for technology's sake - that's how companies end up in scenarios where they've replaced old inefficiencies with new ones. There should always be a clear focus on the value technology can deliver for a business.  

What has been your greatest career achievement? Early in my career, I bounced around between many different jobs and industries. While I had the opportunity to work on a number of successful projects, getting a startup to become cashflow positive - and knowing the company is still alive and well today - is among my proudest achievements. But in the last decade, I've come to find that the accomplishments I find most fulfilling have to do with the development of people and the leaders. I believe that as a leader, you want to be a multiplier - always building up those underneath you into stronger and smarter professionals. The feeling of seeing your team members take on additional responsibilities and blossom into leaders themselves is extremely rewarding.

Looking back with 20:20 hindsight, what would you have done differently? There are occasions when I've looked back on my career and questioned how intensely I prioritised my career over other things. But when I consider where I am today, I realise I'm happy with all the choices I made - because they brought me here. I put a significant amount of time and dedication into my work, but I came out of the other end safer, smarter and better prepared for the next step.

What are you reading now? I'm currently reading Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, written by Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown. The book explores different types of leadership and their effectiveness at managing people.

Most people don't know that I… Have traveled to 30 different countries.

In my spare time, I like to…Spend time with family and play tennis

Ask me to do anything but… Clean the house.

 

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