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Deep Dive: Con Zwinkels, CEO, Founder & Owner, Leaseweb

Deep Dive: Con Zwinkels, CEO, Founder & Owner, Leaseweb

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Con Zwinkels, CEO, Founder & Owner, Leaseweb, tells us how he began his career and how he relaxes and unwinds outside the office.

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

Leaseweb first started in a dorm room in Utrecht in 1997, so it’s incredible to look back and realise how far we’ve come. With our original four servers, we could never have imagined that we would end up working with leading global brands and standing at the forefront of the cloud computing industry.

We’ve just celebrated 25 years in business, providing the infrastructure that powers mission-critical websites, applications and IT systems for over 20,000 customers worldwide. Leaseweb has steadily grown its global presence to 25 data centres located throughout Europe, North America, Asia and Australia, and over 10 Tbps of total network capacity, representing increases of 32% and 82%, respectively, in just the last five years alone.

Con Zwinkels, CEO, Founder & Owner, Leaseweb

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

Prior to my time with Leaseweb, I studied Law at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands and my deep passion for aviation led me to obtain an ATPL pilot license. I flew as a captain on Boeing 747s for 14 years and it was during this time that the vision for Leaseweb was born. I was inspired by my experience travelling across borders and, having witnessed the growth of the Internet around the world, I wanted to create a new company that would connect people and businesses no matter where they are.

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

As the founder of Leaseweb, I am very proud of our growth, prosperity and innovation as well as our ability to not just simply meet our customers’ expectations, but to work closely with them to create both the best possible products and real long-term relationships.

But this longevity doesn’t come from a deep familiarity with all aspects of the cloud hosting and data centre sector alone. Since Leaseweb’s inception, one of the core values we have stuck by is the importance of teamwork.

From the beginning we set out to create a great team, bringing together talented employees from around the world, as well as our business partners and customers. By understanding that all of these pieces are necessary for real teamwork, we have been able to develop a company that empowers our customers to achieve amazing things.

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

The impact of data centres’ energy usage on the environment and most importantly, how to reduce it, is one of the biggest topics in the data centre space currently. The nature of data centres means they do not organically lend themselves to being environmentally friendly infrastructures; the upkeep of these centres requires large amounts of space, equipment and most importantly energy. Yet, it is for precisely this reason that it is so vital that the data centre industry continues to become more self-aware in its energy usage and efficiency.  

At Leaseweb, we are very passionate about reducing the environmental impact of the data centre industry. Last year, we participated in the Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact, which was developed in cooperation with the European Commission and saw over two dozen data centre and cloud providers commit to climate neutrality by 2030.

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

For me, one of the most important ways I unwind outside of the office is by spending time with my family and friends. I have a wonderful wife, two daughters and two friendly dogs. I also enjoy flying, sailing, mountain biking and tennis.

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

As sustainability is such a big topic in the data industry, we’re currently seeing a lot of investment in the industry moving towards this.

To keep carbon footprints down, many centres are investing in more up-to-date and environmentally friendly technologies.

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

One of the greatest challenges we are facing is rising energy prices. Across Europe, a combination of a cold winter in 2021 and limited incoming shipments of liquefied natural gas has led to energy prices skyrocketing for everyone.

For the data centre industry, this is causing particular issues. We want to keep prices as low as possible for our customers, but if prices continue to rise it will cause a notable deterioration in bottom-line metrics.

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

Our expansion ambitions mean my role and responsibilities are constantly evolving. Most recently, we have announced the opening of Leaseweb Japan, which has added significant scale to our operations in the APAC region. In 2021, we also took a larger foothold in the Canadian market by acquiring Montreal-based iWeb, one of the country’s foremost providers of cloud hosting.

We’re also constantly expanding our Cloud Connect offering. Only recently we added Cloud Connect to provide fast and secure connectivity from Leaseweb data centres in Europe, the US and Singapore.

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