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Deep Dive: Marilou van Doorn, COO at Leaseweb Global

Deep Dive: Marilou van Doorn, COO at Leaseweb Global

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Marilou van Doorn

Leaseweb is a global hosting provider. Marilou van Doorn is Chief Operations Officer (COO) of Leaseweb Global and she helps drive operations across Leaseweb’s product portfolio and continues to support customers throughout these highly unusual times and beyond.

What would you describe as your most memorable achievement in the data centre industry?
It’s not necessarily a personal achievement but it’s the way in which we’ve created a global presence with a local feel at Leaseweb. It’s also about the balance between the product focus, high quality network and data centre operational excellence.

What first made you think of a career in technology/data centres?
I come from a creative background, having attended art school and studied Modern Art at university and was always convinced I would only find passion and creativity in art. It wasn’t until I came into contact with the tech scene in Amsterdam, where I met some of the most passionate people, that my perception changed. Now, every day I have an opportunity to work on things that weren’t possible the day before. Creating new things in technology constantly pushes the boundaries of what’s imaginable, and that in itself is amazing.

What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?
My management philosophy focuses on a few key principles. My primary focus is about putting people first. As a servant leader, it’s important to enable, empower and encourage teams to do their best. Secondly, I strongly believe it’s crucial to have a solid structure. For example, having a good routine and automation can be really empowering, not to mention it makes your day easier and less stressful. Thirdly it’s about removing human error by learning from one’s mistakes and fixing them at the core. Finally, what I’m especially passionate about, is making use of your data. As an industry, there is an incredible amount of data available, which is increasing by the day. Now we need to learn to use it better for all different perspectives, from understanding our people to how our customers work.

Beneath all of this and not per-se a management philosophy is something which I always stress to all my teams – keep the customer perspective top of the mind in decision making.

What do you think is the current hot talking point within the data centre space?
One hot topic that will always remain current is the environmental impact. It has been a topic for years already, but regulation is becoming more and more restricted. As an industry we still have a long way to go, especially with computing power increasing and with high density demand constantly developing. This only leaves the data centre industry in a position to find better solutions that are more energy efficient and kinder to the environment.

Furthermore, I am excited to see the next steps in hybrid cloud and Edge Computing. With data consumption increasing, the industry needs to make the most of the right solutions at the right place and the right time.

How do you deal with stress and unwind outside the office?
I’m not one for stereotypes but I honestly love cooking. If I’m really stressed out, cooking is the one thing that can calm me down. The great thing about cooking is that there is a foundation of certain structures and processes, yet it allows you to experiment and add your own creative flair. This, combined with the pleasure of eating the food, and of course the occasional glass of wine, is a real stress buster for me!

What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?
I believe there is still a lot of ground to be developed for AI, from both a data centre and a customer perspective. We are now at the point where we can measure anything, so it’s time to put that data to good use and accept that machines are sometimes better equipped in making certain business decisions. For example, through AI, you are able to predict more accurately as to whether a customer needs more servers for their business operations or whether you might be reaching your power limitations in the data centre.

What are the region-specific challenges you encounter in your role?
We are always striving to guarantee the same level of quality across the globe. Leaseweb prides itself on setting high quality standards, so if we open up new locations, we also want to uphold this principle. This has proved especially challenging in recent months, attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic and different local regulations that have had to be implemented. However, we’re committed to working within these perimeters and adapting where needed, in the interests of maintaining our quality levels of service and product delivery to our customers.

What changes to your job role have you seen in the last year and how do you see these developing in the next 12 months?
One of the changes we’ve all had in the past year, is of course COVID-19. For us, it definitely brought its challenges but not necessarily for the worst. Our company has become very adept at transitioning to online interactions, both with customers and internally how we function as a business. This will continue to be the case for the next 12 months, and I do believe this will have a lasting positive impact on our organisation, especially with the increase in flexibility to work remotely. Furthermore, the resilience and adaptability the teams have shown is simply incredible, which I’m really proud of.

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