Mover & Shaker: Sheldon Tkatch, senior IT manager, Garrett Aviation Services

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There is very little that prevents Sheldon Tkatch from getting his job done. In September the senior IT manager for Garrett Aviation Services kept an ongoing CRM project moving even though he was bedridden for several weeks after a serious propane fire accident involving a barbeque that left him badly burned. Garrett Aviation Services, a subsidiary of General Electric Co., handles nose-to-tail service and custom aircraft refurbishments for business, private, and corporate aviation, was in the process of evaluating the offline version of Salesforce.com to allow field sales representatives to deal with data even when they are not connected to the online CRM service. "It was very important to keep on going," says Tkatch, who communicated to the rest of the project team from home and was able to deploy the final version of the product to Garrett's field staff within 30 days of his return to the office. But Tkatch admits that he wouldn't have been able to accomplish that without support from his team. Tkatch, whose project management responsibilities often cut across the company's entire enterprise, is an involved manager who likes to empower his team. "It's a challenge working in a cross-functional role, but that makes work more interesting and it means that you get to approach a project from a variety of perspectives--from the finance to the maintenance guys," he says. Tkatch likes to solicit a lot of opinions, get consensus, and buy-in on a project before moving ahead. That's the tack he took when he was charged with leading Garrett's CRM project. Garrett did not have an integrated enterprisewide solution that enabled it to capture critical customer, competitor, and business intelligence in a structured manner and use it to manage profitability, increase market share, and improve customer satisfaction. Under Tkatch the company abandoned it's plan for a $2 million traditional CRM solution that was going to take 24 months to implement and deploy, and instead went with Salesforce.com, which cost 15 percent of the original budget and was rolled out to 100 users in just two months. Prior to Garrett, Tkatch was with another division of GE--GE Plastics in Pittsfield, MA--where he was the global Exchange email and NT operations leader. But it was a small Clearwater, FL, company called CompuLink Cable Assembly where Tkatch honed his IT skills for seven years. When he started with CompuLink as director of information systems, the company had a handful of employees. It eventually grew to a $40 million company while Tkatch was there. Despite having an undergraduate degree in finance and accounting, Tkatch was always keen on computers. He fondly recalls the late 1970s and early 1980s for working on some of the first personal computers while in high school and college. "One thing I've noticed dealing with some tech people is that a need for business knowledge was the limiting factor," says Tkatch, who believes that understanding the business of business has served him well in implementing this CRM project. Tkatch says this CRM project has been a great learning experience. And that's fine with him, because some of the best advice he ever received was to keep on learning and don't be afraid to change. That way you'll always be challenged. He says he's heard this adage time and again from people, but it never really sunk in until he heard it from his wife Jessica, who is Mrs. Arizona 2002. Tkatch is also working on a new project: helping his beautiful wife set up her pageant Web site.
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