Head of Information Technology at Dynamic Pet Food Company

A highly innovative and well-regarded manufacturer and marketer of refrigerated pet food has retained Kincannon & Reed to recruit a Head of Information Technology.  The successful candidate will have the accomplished IT and systems background to provide best-in-class strategic and tactical leadership to facilitate the company’s ambitious growth objectives. 

The Company

A manufacturer and marketer of all-natural refrigerated pet food and treats using fresh meats and vegetables.  This forward-thinking company was the first in the fresh and refrigerated category to be distributed across North America.  The Company has a single-minded vision—to improve the lives of dogs and cats through the power of fresh, natural food.  More than 3 million “pet parents” now use food purchased from its retail network of 22,000 refrigerators across North America. The company has annual sales over $300M and has recently completed construction of a second location in PA plus building a R&D Center adjacent to their current plant on that site while also constructing a third manufacturing facility in Texas – scheduled to open in 2022.  With this and international expansion, the company intends to increase its number of associates from 500 today to 1000 over the next few years and grow to $1 billion in net sales by 2025.

The Position

Reporting to the Chief Financial Officer, the Head of Information Technology, a newly created position, will be a contributing member of the Management team and will be responsible for developing and leading the execution of the company’s IT vision and strategy to ensure an efficient, effective, and high-quality operation and functioning of all hardware and software that are the responsibility of the IT Department, within the approved budget.  This position will provide the vision, perspective, and leadership for developing and implementing information technology initiatives. 

Specific responsibilities include:

  • Develop IT strategy for the Company to scale to >$2 Billion Net Sales including network infrastructure design, applications landscape, cybersecurity, and employee productivity solutions (hardware and software).
  • Provide strategic leadership to implementation of new ERP system, Microsoft Dynamics 365, ensuring phase 1 implementation (already in process) OTIF and plans for phase 2 and beyond.
  • Bring thought leadership to employee productivity solutions ensuring strong virtual engagement, while optimizing cost.
  • Ensure cybersecurity tools and processes are in place to provide the upmost risk management for the Company as it scales.
  • Manage full IT budget, bringing cost optimization while investing where it makes sense to create value to the business.
  • Develop business intelligence and analytics solutions, leveraging AI where appropriate, to deliver efficient data insights, business alerts, and dramatically reduce the need for manual data manipulation and report development.
  • Implement IT systems governance to ensure compliance to IT strategy and central ownership of system support model in IT.
  • Transition IT to an organization that brings a strong support model, leveraging innovative solutions.
  • Formulate IT policies, procedures, and performance management process and measures.  Ensure those policies and procedures reflect current best practices and comply with government regulations (i.e., GMP, FDA, IT Audit).
  • Develop the IT organization, including organizational design, hiring, recruitment, retention of employees, and succession planning.  Ensure that an adequate level of training is available to all.

Other Position Parameters

  • The role has 3 to 5 direct reports, with a total team size of 15-20.
  • The position can be located in NJ (corporate office) or PA (manufacturing facility) with day trips to the other location.  The position will also support the TX (manufacturing facility), expected to be operational mid-2022.
  • Moderate travel is anticipated.

Candidate Profile
Experience required or desired:

  • A minimum of 15 years’ relevant IT experience, including at least five years at the management level, performing to best practice company standards.  A prior background in a manufacturing environment is highly preferred.
  • Proven experience in planning and implementing challenging, complex projects that anticipate and respond to the demands of a high-growth organization, developing dynamic and streamlined systems and processes that anticipate and support changes in the operational business model, and producing results under demanding deadlines.
  • Significant experience in all aspects of information technology planning, development, and implementation, including but not limited to enterprise resource planning, systems architecture, telecommunications, database administration, Web and social media development, cybersecurity, disaster recovery, and compliance issues.
  •   A developer of people and teams.

Skills required or desired:

  • A thought leader capable of anticipating the technological challenges and opportunities of the future; looks around the corner as to what may come as opposed to how the company got there.
  • Strong IT background across a broad spectrum of IT domains.
  • Has a track record of leading innovative practices to ensure long term benefits to the organization and looks to implement processes and systems that support resource efficiency and improved analytics.
  • A strategic thinker and doer, with an appropriate level of risk tolerance for a high revenue-growth disruptive business.
  • Proven leader that can provide direction and strategic thinking across all areas of IT, leveraging prior experience/expertise, advisors, and continuous learning, while motivating and delivering through their team.

Personal characteristics:

  • Unquestioned honesty and integrity.
  • Holds self and others accountable.
  • A positive, hands-on doer; leads by example, and has a trust-based management style.
  • An ego-less consensus builder.  Thick-skinned, strong-willed, and tenacious, but not overbearing or divisive; ability to diplomatically yet firmly push back or hold onto and defend positions.
  • A passion for the Company’s values and mission.

Education level: Bachelor’s degree in MIS or related discipline.  MS or MBA a plus.

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