Acting CEO, Covisint
Education: Bachelors from Central Michigan University, MBA from Eastern Michigan University and completed the International Executive Program at the International Institute for Management Development
Car: Chevrolet Corvette
Stress reliever: “Golf. I absolutely love golf. I try to play every single day.”
Enrico Digirolamo has had an interesting career, working in analytical and management positions, with posts in Germany and Spain. As acting CEO of giant automotive industry exchange Covisint, he may have the most interesting assignment of all. After spending most of his working life at General Motors, Digirolamo was charged with getting fierce rivals Ford Motor and DaimlerChrysler to work together to take advantage of the Internet. Started 13 months ago, Covisint today has more than 300 employees and claims to have traded more than $2 billion worth of goods, primarily through auctions. After a lengthy search, Digirolamo handed over his duties last week to Kevin English, the exchanges new CEO. English, 48, previously was managing director for electronic commerce at Credit Suisse First Boston and, prior to that, CEO of TheStreet.com. Digirolamo spoke with Senior Writer Mike Cleary just prior to the transition.
What are your financial objectives?
We have financial objectives for all sorts of things, like burn rate, spending, revenue. For most of those factors, were on track. Were behind a little on revenue, for which I say its the FTC [Federal Trade Commission]. They took a long time to look us over. That held us back.
What prepared you for this job?
Every single job has prepared me. Several years ago, I studied why health-care costs caused GM a problem. Thats the kind of complex problem were facing here. Later, I was involved in a joint venture between GM and Isuzu [Motors]. That taught me about relations with another culture. Then I was in Spain as the comptroller of our European operation. That was a baptism in trying to sell cars in 15 countries with different currencies and languages.
How does your job compare with that of the chief information officer?
My job is more focused on providing business leadership, coaching. A CIO is more concerned with what technology you use, the architecture of products and how that fits in. We have a combination of CIO and CTO [chief technology officer].
Whats your biggest failure?
I dont think negatively enough.
Well, what was the biggest challenge?
Bringing together people that worked at three fierce competitors. When they came in, it was Bill from GM, Jane from Ford, Sally from DaimlerChrysler. We rallied them around a common mission. By the time we organized six months later, it was Bill or Jane in the product group or the technology group.
And what are the challenges today?
[Business-to-business] was touted as a savior. B2B has been around for thousands of years, back to the time when the Greeks were paying drachmas in the square. Now, companies like GE [General Electric] use fax, EDI [electronic data interchange], carrier pigeon, whatever. Were shifting from a medium to another. It should be faster. It should be transparent. It should provide for easier access. These represent formidable challenges. [Businesses] want to think about that.