We ‘deep dive’ with Amy Young, Sales Director, Custodian Data Centres, who tells us about life inside and outside the office.
- What would you describe as your most memorable achievement?
It would certainly be my time at Custodian, being promoted to Sales Director and a serving board member. It’s certainly something I am incredibly proud of, especially within the IT sector, which, while it is improving, is still a very male-dominated arena.
- What first made you think of a career in technology?
It started during my time in recruitment. I could see the introduction of new technologies entering the industry and the impact they were having. They completely transformed the way recruiters operated and changed the industry almost immediately. For me, that was a lightbulb moment. My passion has always been to continually learn and to work in a sector that doesn’t sit still, so moving into technology, and more specifically, the data centre industry was the perfect move for me.
- What do you think has emerged as the technology trend of 2021 and why?
The pandemic has certainly pushed organisations to review how their IT infrastructures are set up for the future. 2021 has presented many challenges in the way we work, and businesses have had to adapt to that. This new hybrid model where businesses need to cater for both office and home working has been a real step-change in how organisations are deploying their infrastructure. It’s no longer a commercial afterthought, but often front and centre of overall business strategy. Data centres get to play a crucial role within that, which is something I find truly exciting.
- What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?
There are many major areas we could discuss in the data centre space, but specifically, it would have to be renewable and alternative energy solutions. As an industry, the sustainability conversation is becoming more and more important. We are seeing the hyperscalers continuing to push boundaries with areas like hydrogen fuel and even nuclear technologies being discussed. This continued investment is vital as the importance of data centres grows in tandem with our need to minimise our impact on the environment.
- How do you deal with stress and unwind outside of the office?
It is something I struggle with, but I have found horse riding a great way of forcing myself to focus on something else as you really have to devote all your energy to what you’re doing. That combined with retail therapy certainly helps me to switch off.
- If you could go back and change one career decision, what would it be?
I think I touched on it earlier but being brave enough to jump into the technology space earlier. It certainly would have helped me build better foundations and increased my understanding of the industry. Outside of that, I don’t regret my choices – it’s better to own and learn from them than to regret them.
- What are the region-specific challenges when implementing new technologies in Europe?
For me, it would certainly be more around the emergence of ‘Out of London’ locations and the challenges of breaking the idea that you ‘need’ to be in Central London to have truly agile and mission-critical facilities. We are seeing more and more sites being built outside of London and our major challenge is helping potential customers understand the benefits of being away from the city, rather than within it.
I think another challenge – again very specific to the data centre industry is the challenge of comparing offerings from different providers. Today, the technologies and the solutions data centres can offer are so varied, that it can be difficult to choose the right service provider for your needs. It’s never a case of comparing apples for apples, so this, combined with the frenetic pace our industry moves in, means what was relevant six to 12 months ago, can be almost obsolete today.
- What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?
A very difficult question, but I have always stood by being able to do the job I am asking someone else to do. I would never expect any of my team to do something I wasn’t prepared to do myself. I work hard and like to lead by example. If I had to put a label on it, it would certainly fall more towards a transformational style – I want my teams to be brave and be happy to suggest ideas and develop better ways of doing things.
- 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?
It’s been a strange year! I think strategically we have tried to focus on using this time to eliminate pinch points and optimise our internal operations. My role has become broad as we scale our operation to multiple sites, and the commercial function must be engaged with all areas of the business. This is certainly something I see continuing as we find the balance between being technology-led vs. commercially led. The last 12 months have certainly seen our cross-functional teams collaborate more so than ever and offer truly dynamic service to our customers – a trend that is set to continue.
- What advice would you offer somebody aspiring to obtain a C-level position in your industry?
Outside of the obvious, I think it’s important to surround yourself with people who share the same willingness to move forward, the same vision and the appetite to push boundaries. Technology is all about innovation, so being willing to challenge yourself and others will certainly help. Understanding that you need to get comfortable being uncomfortable and that it’s not a set path. Everyone has their journey, so don’t get disheartened if your route is different to everyone else’s.Click below to share this article