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The story of Vigor is a story of evolution. What started out in 1995 as an ailing ship repair yard has evolved into a major, diversified business active in shipbuilding & repair, energy & infrastructure, and aerospace & defense. What is the secret behind this success? Well, I leave it to you to draw your own conclusions from the below. Suffice it to say, it takes more than just business savvy to unify and inspire a workforce.

I was lucky enough to get some time with David Dam, whose passion for his work is as inspiring as it is contagious.

How would you describe your role?

I joined Vigor on the shop floor as a recent college graduate in 2010. Since the start, almost 10 years ago, I’ve progressed through engineering, project management, and project control, leading to my current position as business systems analyst and assistant to the CEO.

IFS Challenger Champion David Dam

My journey from the shop floor to where I am now has given me a breadth of experience that I can draw on in my current role to help the company evolve. One of the most important parts of my role is to make sure we have the right technology to enable us to work as one entity, even though Vigor operates through multiple locations and multiple subsidiaries. This means working to standardize best practices across all parts of the organization as well as removing organizational silos.

Describe yourself in three words

I would use the company values as a starting point: truth, responsibility, evolution, and love. These are concepts that almost every human being can instinctively understand and relate to.

I might use different words at different times, but I think that one of the best words to describe me is love. Love as compassion and care for everything and everyone I come across in life is at the core of my personality.

If I were to adopt another company value, I would say truth. To me, this means speaking the truth as I perceive it to create a space for dialog where we can reach an understanding that respects the fact that each person’s truth might differ slightly.

I would also think about the word evolution. Vigor is definitely in the business of evolution and it’s one of the things I love about this company. I think we can all agree that businesses that fail to evolve become antiquated. Evolution is probably the single-most important goal to seek, not only for businesses but for individuals, groups, even civilizations. In business, we often use synonyms like “continuous improvement”, “process improvement”, “corrective action”, “research and development”, but all of it boils down to evolution.

How do you use IFS Applications to run your business today? And how do you see the solution evolving?

IFS Applications is our core business system and we leverage functionality that revolve around accounting, finance, project management, procurement, maintenance, and warehousing.

Over the years, we’ve run many projects to evolve the way we use these capabilities and we are at a point where we need more capabilities to tie our business together. We’re currently testing the manufacturing functionality of IFS Applications in the hope of implementing it for our fabrication businesses. This will give us the data needed to incorporate other parts of the value chain, such as quality management, people and material planning, and, last but not least, document management, which we think will have enormous potential for inter-departmental communication.

The driving force behind this is the realization that data living in different systems—from CRM to project management to procurement—doesn’t provide decision-makers with a true picture of reality. So if we can move data into the central repository that is IFS Applications and get real-time and actionable insights, we should do that. Not only to get a single source for accurate information, but also to eliminate redundant applications and reduce time spent waiting for data to synchronize between systems.

In an era when many companies are looking to automation and AI, having access to live data in one system becomes even more valuable. For instance, if we install IoT sensors on our shop floors to capture operational data, it will be much easier and quicker to analyze and act on that data if there is only one repository. By looking at IFS Applications as this central repository, we are planning for the infrastructure needed to reach that next stage in our evolution.

IFS Challenger Champion David Dam

What does being a challenger mean to you?

To me, the best way to describe a challenger is as a champion of evolution. Someone who works to modernize the business and help people stay relevant and up-to-date in an era where there are so many choices when it comes to technology that decision-making can actually be impaired.

Why do you think you were nominated as a challenger?

I usually stay in the background and work behind the scenes, but I believe this nomination is a recognition of my ability to build bridges between people and technology.

I spend a good portion of my time teaching my work family how to fully realize the value of the solutions already in place. By empowering coworkers to use the technology to its fullest extent, I’m both bridging the technology gap and fostering a thirst for further evolution.

If you could name one person, living or dead, who do you think best embodies the concept of a challenger and why?

For me, there are actually two people that I’d like to mention. Abraham Lincoln and Frank Foti, CEO of Vigor.

Abraham Lincoln challenged the status quo to create one union, regardless of culture and background. He challenged the system in the belief that people and nation should be one and equal. The decisions he made back then were very difficult ones, whose effects I think we are still feeling across the United States today.

Having worked closely with Frank Foti as Assistant to the CEO, I’ve had the opportunity to see first-hand how he challenges the status quo in terms of culture and operating practice. With all the different companies that merge into Vigor, he has managed to create a “One Vigor” mentality while delivering a triple bottom line: people, planet and profit.

To foster that kind of culture at a diverse and geographically widespread company like Vigor is a pretty challenging thing to do, but also extremely rewarding.

Read more about the Challenger Champions program.


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