Deep Dive: Eugene Bergen, President EMEA, Equinix

Deep Dive: Eugene Bergen, President EMEA, Equinix

Eugene Bergen, President EMEA, Equinix

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

There have been quite a few significant milestones as Equinix is, and has been doing,  exceptionally well. Apart from the uninterrupted strong performance of the region, one that comes to mind is successfully landing in a new and most promising continent – Africa. We closed the acquisition of MainOne in April 2022 which covers Nigeria, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire and recently announced our US$160M investment to enter South Africa. The MainOne team are an indispensable and invaluable factor in this success. They are and have been making a difference for us in developing the opportunity of the acceleration of a digital Africa. For me personally, meeting new teams and people that are fascinating and rich in culture like MainOne is the best part of my role and I love it.

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

Ultimately, I am a big believer that technology and digital infrastructure are providing the basis to enable people to communicate and collaborate in a much more powerful way. It is a critical factor in overcoming the challenges we are facing in several areas on our planet. The power of that has drawn me to this sector and as said, more specifically to Equinix. If we look alone at the part we played throughout the pandemic, technology has been a lifeline to survival – how we managed the crisis, connecting people and enabling society to continue to function by providing the digital workplace alternative at scale, for government and enterprises alike. The digital platform really has held the key to recovery.  

As for my decision to join the data centre industry, it solely was a decision based on getting to know Equinix, its amazing people, culture and performance. I met several of the then-leaders that are and have been building our company and curating its vision – I was sold right there.   

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

Really it comes down to my four guiding principles:   

  1. Hire the very best person for every role and give them the mandate to run their business 
  2. Hire the very best people who together represent a high level of diversity in order to create an environment where highly diverse backgrounds and opinions provide the fertile ground for innovation and competitiveness
  3. The conditional characteristic for each and every leader to have a solid level of maturity, guaranteeing powerful and wise leadership
  4. Build that top talent group into a cohesive team, having each other’s back and actively creating opportunities for each other to shine by building deep trust

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

When I talk to customers and investors there are only two: what does AI mean for all of us and for the data centre business in particular, and what does Equinix do to drive sustainability in its true form? From my perspective, there are five forces that I am seeing that are driving our industry, customers and growth: public and hybrid cloud; power price increases; sustainability and legislation; hedging; and data centre CAPEX. Some of the catalysts to bring us to this point in time include the Ukraine war, power pricing, sustainability and related regulation, the economic slowdown and the demand for digitisation including AI.

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

I am a lifelong piano player and love to play to wind down. I’m a social extrovert and as such love to spend time with friends, family, colleagues, customers and partners. I truly love the power of people; to experience the richness of each individual and discover the mystery of the soul. 

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

We are continually innovating to make our operations as sustainable as possible. We are introducing new technological solutions to improve our energy efficiency, including increasing the temperatures we operate our data centres and substantially reducing the amount of energy we need to cool our data centres. We have many examples of heat export projects where we can pass on the benefits of the heat we produce to universities like Amsterdam, to homes and even the Olympic swimming pool in Paris.

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

Currently, there are four challenges: inflation, high volatility of energy pricing, the uncertainty of the war in Ukraine and talent. Equinix is a service business and our success is based on having the most talented team in the industry, in every aspect. To reach and attract the very best is a continuous challenge. We are committed to widening the talent pool, bringing in more diverse candidates through alternative recruitment drives and hiring engineering talent from adjacent industries.  

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

The one challenge that comes to mind for me personally is to build the leadership team into the very best collaborative, tightly-knit, trust-driven team in the industry. A team that achieves that level provides the very best leadership of the great talent we have in every role in Equinix and provides the best development of that talent into their best selves. Since this building of a strong team is strongly dependent on each individual professional’s personal development, this is a great challenge to embrace.

We also never stop growing – Equinix EMEA has grown from five countries to 20 in the 10 years since I joined in 2013. 

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