03 Feb 2022
This week I was delighted to join Kao Data as their new Head of Service Operations. It’s a move I’ve been really looking forward to and three days in, I was given the opportunity (and the breathing space from a hectic schedule) to write a blog about why I joined the company, so here goes…
Although my background is not traditionally data centres per se, I’ve worked in the often complex and varied world of facilities management for most of my working career. My responsibilities included data centre estates, critical and TFM management and many of my clients were in the highly regulated financial services sector. It’s a sector that comes with many demands and one that is very specific on how things need to be run, operated, and maintained. You have to hit the ground running for sure and you don’t get many second chances. It’s helped me become really focused on what customers need, and don’t need.
Kao Data isn’t entirely new to me - I’d been working with them on a customer-supplier basis before accepting the full-time position here. I already have a good rapport with the services team so it’s great working with them now on a daily basis and going ‘behind-the-curtain’ so to speak. I’ve also seen first-hand how fast the data centre industry is growing and how Kao Data are evolving in-line to deliver the high-performance facilities needed to support intensive forms of compute such as AI and Machine Learning. I really enjoyed my time at ISS, but when an opportunity came up to join Kao Data as Head of Service Operations, it was a no brainer decision to accept the job. I’m going to be working with, and supporting some world class companies, and on a part of their operations that really matter. The servers that power their data-driven decisions and future corporate success are absolutely mission critical.
I like to think I’ve a few strings to my bow and can offer a number of attributes to this new position. I’ve got hands-on experience in varying roles from diagnosing technical building problems and conducting general maintenance, to building large service delivery teams or ensuring global company polices and process are effectively and correctly implemented. I’m one of those people that likes the finer details of things. I started my professional career as an apprentice electrician before moving into the facilities management sector at the age of 21. This “coal face” experience taught me the importance of delivering added value over and above those services that are taken for granted. And I believe this “in the field” experience holds me in good stead for the exciting opportunities that lie ahead at Kao Data.
Kao Data work with some high-profile companies like NVIDIA, EMBL-EBI and InstaDeep, being just three examples, and I’m looking forward to enhancing their customer service expectations by developing customer centric operations and introducing transparent reporting and communications. The company is also growing quickly to meet our clients’ enterprise, cloud and HPC processing requirements so it’s essential we are proactive in our communications and compliance handling to make sure we are fulfilling contractual obligations.
Head of Services Operations is not a “standard” function in the data centre industry and the fact that Kao Data were actively looking for someone to take a lead on this is a statement of intent on their part. My appointment clearly demonstrates their commitment to adopting a service-led approach and it’s this progressive root-and-branch attitude that makes them stand out. It goes without saying that clients expect technical excellence, power, resiliency, reliability and sustainability as part of their service agreement. However, there is increasingly a move to enhance these services by reporting on them, and more importantly, to show how easily this can be done.
Additionally, unlike other providers, Kao Data’s core technical expertise sits at board level within the organisation. They are not reliant on third-party consultants when it comes to augmenting their existing facility or building new ones and this is clearly apparent when you go on-site. It’s inspiring to be on calls with some of the industry’s best designers, builders and leaders – people like Paul Finch, Gérard Thibault and Lee Myall, and know they’re on our team.
So, three days in as I said and It’s been all hands-on. Key project so far for me has been onboarding a new major client that works in a highly regulated industry, and ensuring this is done seamlessly, in accordance with legislation and with minimal disruption to service. Securing the project has been a great achievement for Kao Data and I’m proud to have been involved from day. One of my key responsibilities going forwards will be ensuring we continue to fulfil our client and contractual expectations.
As I explained earlier, I already had a suppler-customer relationship with the Kao Data team and I’m looking forward to expanding on this by getting to know them as colleagues and as friends. They’re a talented and agile bunch working in a fast-paced environment. The industry as a whole is expanding unprecedently and so is Kao Data. They’ve gone from operating one to three campuses in an incredibly short timeframe and I’m thrilled to be joining them at such an exciting trajectory. Onwards and upwards!