Technology departments prefer to handle projects one at a time.

But at Ingram Micro, where the goal was to set up a stable computing environment that would accommodate the company's growth on the SAP platform for two or three years, time was a luxury the IT shop couldn't afford.

The global technology distributor needed to make some long-overdue changes that were crucial to running a fast-moving, low-margin business, and to retool for new market opportunities.

So executive vice president and CIO Mario Leone, 55, and other executives decided to undertake multiple strategic projects at the same time. Initiatives ranged from application and infrastructure transformation to network upgrades and the development of new Web and customer-facing technologies, all on a global scale.

The riskiest component is the customer-facing piece, Leone says. "In the distribution [business], you're not creating product -- you're moving product," he explains. "The customer you're facing has many options. So when you make a mistake, you pay a much higher price than you would in a traditional product-type business."

Bob White, senior director of strategic program management and compliance, calls Leone a macro-thinker -- one who is always considering which technologies will support emerging business trends.

But beyond the vision, "he has a phenomenal sense for execution and detail," White says. "He sees us all bigger than we see ourselves. We look back on the year and say, 'I can't believe we did all that.' "