Exemplifying Innovation | Mark Marano

Exemplifying Innovation | Mark Marano

Mark Marano

CEO of Structural Integrity Associates, Inc.

In 2020, Mark Marano, a power executive industry veteran, joined Structural Integrity Associates, Inc. (SI) as President and CEO. Already he has steered SI into its most profitable year since 2017, having improved net earnings seven times from 2019. He followed that with another 15% improvement in earnings in 2021.

Mark brought his business background to bear when he joined SI, which differed from his predecessors who showcased a strength in engineering and technology. And while a business background alone does not guarantee success, when combined with expansive leadership experience, communication skills, and a keen, critical insight, SI began to realize the positive difference he was making. It wasn’t long before Mark was making his mark, and turning this business around in several key areas:

Teaching and mentoring – Mark has a strong talent to help others improve. He openly shares his own experiences to help guide individuals and his team. Mark is known to share his business acumen throughout the business. He is of the belief that when his team brings about success for clients, in turn, that equates to success for SI.

Communication – Mark is a stickler for good communication. He listens, and he hears. He encourages others to do the same among peers and across the aisles. Mark is a firm believer that regular, actual conversations are key and preferred over email. He knows conversations help to build relationships and resolve issues more quickly than waiting for a scheduled meeting.

During the pandemic, Mark Marano maintained communication cadence by recording videos to relay key topics and to keep priority deliverables in front of all employees. This helped set the expectation that vital information still had to flow, pandemic or not, and work had to get executed.

High performance standards – The SI technical team already has high standards for client work, which matches up well with Mark’s high-performance standards that he holds for himself and others. He leads by example, does what he says he will do and expects the same of his employees throughout the business.

Honesty and integrity – In line with leading by example, being honest and working with integrity are hall-marks of his behavior. Mark expects his executive team to always carry that torch and push that expectation throughout the organization.

Energy – Mark knows he needs to be on his game with the sharp SI crew, and he brings it. In turn, that energy feeds his team to also turn out their A-game. Mark’s seemingly inexhaustible energy level definitely has kept folks on their toes.

Financial acumen – With his noted business brain and experience, Mark shines when it comes to numbers. He understands financials and ascertains the temperature of a project with lightning speed. And while he rarely forgets a number, he is quite energized when he can look around a corner and shine the light on a concern before it becomes a problem. He’s able to find the right level when setting motivational goals, keeping them attainable, but definitely adding stretch to the performance. Aggressive? Yes. Client-oriented? Always.

Remembering his Mentor

Roy A. Anderson, an icon in the nuclear and power generation industry, was an accomplished and sought-after leader who did much to inspire Mark Marano. Roy carried an extraordinarily high level of business and technical knowledge. He leveraged his education and work experiences to create a well-rounded and thoughtful leader who influenced many, especially Mark.

“Although Roy’s management style sometimes was direct, it often was followed with a ‘You did good, real good.’ One day, he called me Butch,” Mark recalled. “Little did Roy know, but that was my father’s nickname for me, too. It endeared me to him more.”

Mark Marano recalled that he first met Roy in 1997, some 25 years ago. Until Roy’s passing, they managed to stay in touch.

“Roy is important to me. He taught me lessons that I still carry to this day. He’s why I listen to employees, really try to engage with them for feedback, and strive to provide an open and transparent work environment,” said Mark. “Roy also taught me to command leadership through both good and challenging times. He modeled how to keep oneself even-keeled, and he also reinforced that it is okay to show one’s passion for the work.”

Roy and Mark routinely checked in just to say hello, or to offer up some sage advice. “Nearly every conversation with Roy has directly and indirectly  shaped my management style. I identified with Roy’s desire to achieve and respected his commitment to doing things the right way,” said Mark. 

Becoming A Great Leader

For a consulting firm like SI, high productivity is the heart of the company and one of the most important success indicators. Whether you call it utilization, chargeability, or billability, Mark has spent considerable time communicating the importance of properly billing client time since starting his tenure at SI.

Exemplifying Innovation | Mark Marano

While some may take negative results related to not hitting billing targets personally and as an indication of poor performance, Mark sees it differently. His view is that it’s a gauge of SI’s business health in terms of using the company’s time wisely to make the client successful, which ultimately directly impacts SI’s financial position. Drawing on his experience, energy, and communication skills, you can be sure Mark regularly identifies issues that need improvement. Whether that’s in sales, business development, monitoring time commitments on an overspent project, or even completing special internal projects, this is an area where Mark shines.

Mark brings about transparency to the improvement area at hand, drawing his team in to see the real issue at hand. He then gets them engaged to completely realize the improvement. So whether the issue is impacting client deliverables or improving the bottom line, the key always starts with real and open discussions to make the issue visible. Shining a bright light early, Mark sets the expectation that the work team will take the project and rigorously drive to resolution, then own and maintain the fix.

The 80/20 rule helps to guide Mark in making decisions nearly every day. Following the improvement effort example, Mark would implement the 80/20 rule by collecting enough (80%) of the needed information, then make a decision. He recognizes that there is about a 20% chance that the decision is wrong in some way, but it is more manageable to make a few course corrections related to only about 20% of an issue.

Compare Mark’s use of the 80/20 decision-making rule to waiting for a 100% decision that involves a fully analyzed, thoroughly examined solution that has been reviewed from every possible angle and confirmed with each individual involved before even thinking about making a decision. In Mark’s view, that all takes too long to end up with nearly the same result. Keep in mind that SI is always considering how to best deliver quality service at an affordable cost, and that 20% can make a big difference in getting the client what they need in a more timely fashion, and it also helps SI.

Leading with Technology

Another area of client focus for Mark is understanding that Structural Integrity is known as a technology-rich company. They have a strong history of providing advanced material analysis solutions to extend plant asset life and ensure safety. With an emphasis on purpose-driven investment, Mark added rigor to R&D investment linked to client and revenue outcomes.

At the core of such investment was the addition of a senior-level digitization role to leverage technology across the company and the different industries that SI serves. Consolidating R&D and enabling digital solutions led to the formation of AIMS™, the SI Asset Information Management System.

AIMS is an asset management platform developed by SI that supports various applications that store, visualize, and analyze information for industrial assets. It is used as a platform to deliver advanced analytical tools, online monitoring solutions, and the resulting actionable insights to help customers go from preventive, to predictive, to proactive maintenance while improving the equipment efficiency and reducing the lifetime equipment costs.

SI serves numerous clients worldwide, offering its specialty engineering consulting and professional services to market segments such as nuclear power, power generation, oil and gas, and industries that uniquely rely on critical structures linked to how they deliver value. For example, all power generating facilities, hydro-power structures, data centers, and hospitals would be in this space. In all cases and industries, SI’s solution is one of engineering analysis that assesses the material integrity of static or non-rotating assets and equipment in the environment in which it operates.

The framework of SI’s value for these engineered solutions is their ability to integrate damage mechanism data, coupled with material integrity assessment. They then apply a broad spectrum of engineering disciplines to provide asset managers with an expert view of the remaining life of the system, structure, or component.

SI has been assisting power plant owners and engineering managers with these material insights for nearly 40 years. The company has been instrumental in helping clients understand the remaining life of assets. This insight helps clients know when to run longer and when a repair or replacement of systems, structures, or components may be required to maintain operation. A typical power plant life cycle is 25-30 years for natural gas power-producing facilities and up to 60 years for nuclear power plants.

Standing Tall & Providing Uniqueness

Structural Integrity’s calling card is its technical capability. “Clients know that Structural Integrity is the go-to source for solving their most challenging engineering problems,” said Mark. “They also know they will receive a solid, valuable answer to their problem with SI. We remain committed to their success.”

The SI approach to material integrity and asset management stems from the company’s risk-based approach, coupled with advanced analyses and damage-sensing technology. This technology enables well-informed decision-making. SI has built its reputation on the effectiveness of outcomes for its clients. By pinpointing risk and optimizing solutions, SI helps their clients maintain the safety and reliability of the asset, system, or structure. The SI risk-based approach along with technology make for a unique  expert and affordable solution.

The Right Talent

“Retaining and attracting top employees is how we consistently deliver our top-quality work products,” said Mark. SI has a long history of rewarding its employees well, with good salaries, profit sharing and excellent benefits. The company understands such steps are necessary to ensure that they have the industry’s best.

“Since our founding, the objective has been to hire expert talent,” said Mark. “It is those experts who have made significant advancement in our core competence, Fracture Mechanics.” Within that space, SI assesses material degradation and elevates that to a predictive analytics approach called Probabilistic Fracture Mechanics (PFM). The SI PFM solution, developed by the company’s experts, incorporates the specialty of fracture mechanics into an engineering practice. This is a solution to address some of the most challenging material degradation issues our clients face to predict failure. When coupling the PFM methodology with client data, whether that’s inspection data and/or operating data, they can achieve a level of insight to inform material life.

SI is committed to investing in talent and technology. The focus on talent is expertise and fit. At the core of the technology is an investment in codifying advanced analytics developed by our experts as digital services. The latter serves the business to fulfill its mis­sion to ‘Be the most trusted provid­er of best in-value, innovative, fully integrated, asset life cycle solutions.’

The company revisits the core of its mission to keep in touch with how the business was founded, with focused expert solutions in fracture mechanics, crack growth, the material remaining life assessment, and flaw evaluation. Through the last four decades, SI has honed the effectiveness of these engineered solutions to achieve higher levels of analytical insight or fidelity.

“To achieve best-in-value, we are leveraging technology to lower the cost of attaining these insights. We do this by using sensors, monitoring techniques, and leveraging the smart design of our AIMS platform to fully integrate the solution for our client,” said Mark. “We currently have three active projects involving 20+ monitoring locations streaming material integrity insights in real-time at client sites.”

Structural Integrity’s timing to initiate recently made changes were undertaken during unprecedented times. “Looking back, our timing could not have been more fitting,” said Mark. “We are healthier, hiring new talent and have added capacity to invest to meet our clients’ changing needs. They know that we excel when it comes time to exemplifying innovation.”

Mark Marano Award

"Innovative, yet practical solutions, at an optimized cost ... that’s what the Structural Integrity team delivers, every day,” said Mark Marano, President and CEO. “We quickly get to the heart of our clients’ requests, then we deliver what they need – a value-added solution based on our significant technical capabilities. "

Mark Marano

CEO of Structural Integrity Associates, Inc.

The Corporate Magazine Business Leader April 2022 Edition
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