Director of Information Technology Vito DeLuca earned his computer programming chops in 1980, wrestling with early IBM mainframe systems, data-entry punch cards, and printers the size of mobile homes. Now he and his team use cutting-edge technologies to provide IT support systems and infrastructure for EDC staff and projects around the world.
A native of Everett, Massachusetts, DeLuca earned an MBA with a focus on managing business in a global economy from Northeastern University.
Why did you choose a career in computers and information technology?
Just before I graduated high school, my mother handed me a newspaper ad for a job to train as a computer operator. I had no thoughts in my mind about computers. We never saw a computer in school. But my mother said, “Computers. This is going to be the next big thing.” My mother was a visionary!
So I got a third-shift job at AVCO, a computer services company that processed insurance forms using those big IBM mainframe systems. At first, I was a computer operator, and later I became a programmer working with big decks of computer punch cards. If you dropped the cards, you had to figure out how to put them back in order. Next, I went to work for Wang Labs, where I became a COBOL programmer and later a computer operations supervisor. So that was my introduction to computers.
How did you come to the nonprofit world and EDC?
I had been working as an MIS manager at Somerville Lumber, which was a large home supply store before Home Depot and Lowe’s. It was a $400 million operation, and I became a partner. For 10 years, I worked like crazy in the corporate world. Then, one night, I collapsed and had to be taken to the hospital.
So from there, I decided, “If I’m going to do this stuff for a living, working 24 hours a day stressing out over uptime and business continuity, I want to work somewhere that makes a difference.” So I shifted to the nonprofit world, and I went to work as MIS director for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. I was there for four years before I came to EDC in 1999.
What are the challenges in providing IT support for 350 projects in 35 countries?
It’s a 24-hour operation. Over here, it’s 2 a.m. But someplace “over there”—where EDC works—it’s 8 a.m., and people need support. So we created an international technician position, someone who travels to set up computers for international projects and offices. We support them remotely and ensure that the infrastructure that supports them is available 24/7, even if sometimes it means we’re up at 2 a.m. to fix a downed e-mail server or to consult with a local vendor at 8 a.m. their time.
Everyone on our IT staff carries a Blackberry or an iPhone. Though I rarely have to come into the office outside of business hours, I often have to coordinate the efforts of others to ensure continuous uptime.
Did earning your MBA change how you view your work as an IT director?
It reinforced what I had already learned along the way in business, and that’s that we can’t just be “the computer guys.” There has to be a strategic alliance between the organization’s goals and what we do in IT. We can’t just buy a piece of technology because it’s the latest and greatest thing. We have to look at what EDC is doing and then find the technologies that support our work. We need to keep people around the world connected and make sure their work is productive and uninterrupted.
Last question: Are you a Mac or a PC?
I’m bipartisan. We support both platforms at EDC.