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Deep Dive: Stephen Lorimer, Group Technical Director, Keysource

Deep Dive: Stephen Lorimer, Group Technical Director, Keysource

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We get to know Keysource’s Stephen Lorimer, Group Technical Director, on a deeper level as we hear about how he landed in his role and how he likes to relax and unwind outside the office.

What would you describe as your most memorable achievement in the data centre industry?

In my relatively short time in the industry (getting on for 20 years now) I have worked on some great projects across the world. However, the one thing that sticks out for me is the people. I have seen a lot of people join our team with little or no experience in data centres who have gone on to become experts in their own right. I’ve had the chance to help coach them and I like to think that in some way I have been able to influence their development positively and contribute to their success.

What first made you think of a career in technology/data centres?

As a child I was always fascinated with how things work. One Christmas when I was about 10 years old my parents had saved up to buy me a small TV and I was extremely inquisitive about how plugging something into the wall outlets could get an image on the screen. I recall ‘taking the back off’ of this old 14” CRT TV, sitting on the floor and plugging it in, completely oblivious to the dangers of a fully charged high-voltage capacitor. I won’t forget the look on my mother’s face as she walked into my bedroom to see the tv on the floor in bits, but I did manage to successfully reassemble it.

At school I took an avid interest in the more practical science and technology subjects and worked in the electronics industry during my holidays. After completing my engineering-based degree, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I answered a job advert for a data centre sales engineer role not knowing whether I’d be programming a PC, building a network or designing the next state of the art facility for Yahoo or MSN. As it turned out, I had joined a soaring industry at a really exciting point in time with a multitude of opportunities.

What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?

While it’s important to be the technical expert, it’s even more important to know about your people. How you bring a team together, how you communicate, how you seek to understand one another and how you help them to understand their role is critical to ensure the success of the team and ultimately, the outcome.

Self-awareness, responsibility, motivation and empathy are all things I try to focus on and I always try to start by listening effectively and looking to understand what the person is actually thinking. 

What do you think is the current hot talking point within the data centre space?

Climate Change and sustainability as a whole is currently and will continue to be one of the most (if not the most) important topics in our industry. As a result, traditional focuses and drivers to optimise energy consumption solely for commercial benefit will need to be steered by the climate and societal emergency we face.

I am passionate about how we as an industry can strive to address these challenges through better design, engineering, operation and wider mutual collaboration across the whole life cycle. We are rightly in the sights for wider reporting and regulatory compliance and for an industry that is already significantly, if indirectly, regulated this is a challenge, and in a fast-paced technology-based setting these must continue to remain relevant.

How do you deal with stress and unwind outside the office?

It’s important to enjoy time with those we care about and what is around us. I’m fortunate that I live close to the sea and the South Downs as I enjoy going for walks and cycling in the countryside, or just spending time exploring the coastline with my wife and three children.

What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?

Data Centre Real Estate investment is currently perceived as less risky than traditional real estate investment and traditional technology. While we’ve seen a significant number of acquisitions in the past 12-24 months, there are a lot of legacy facilities on the market and numerous that are not in a good standing to be able to deal with both the changing demands and future trends of IT deployments. Nor are a lot well-positioned to accommodate the demands that will be placed on owners and operators to accommodate the necessary requirements associated with the inevitable ESG agenda already discussed.

What are the region-specific challenges you encounter in your role?

In the UK there are well-documented challenges around recruitment and the skills shortage. I feel passionately that we must continue to educate and attract good people early on in their careers, to ensure that we have an adequate resource and succession in place to continue to drive at the fast pace we need to. Our industry is full of great opportunities as the sector continues to grow, offering career progression, job security and the chance to travel the world and work on some fantastic projects that can change the way people live their lives for the better.

What changes to your job role have you seen in the last year and how do you see these developing in the coming months?

In the past year I have moved from leading the consultancy and professional services team into a Technical Director role across the Keysource group. I am supporting both our operational and delivery teams in maintaining our high standards and continuing to develop the capability across the globe. A key focus has been our product set across the group to deliver more strategic-focused services including technical due diligence and maturing our offering of sustainability aligned services and partnerships.

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