In this episode, Nabeel and Phillip are joined by Chris Downie, an experienced Chief Executive Officer with a demonstrated history of working in the information technology and services industry. Chris is currently CEO of Flexential but has been in the data center business for 16 years. Prior to that, he was in the emerging technology domain as a CFO.
Phillip asks if Chris’s personality is what drove his ability to navigate his previous position as a CFO, or a particular skill that he learned with a degree,
“It was the desire to learn in different circumstances, versus being trained in one specific thing. I think it was just recognizing that there’s a whole range of perspectives in any given situation that need to be considered and having an open mind to learn those perspectives and adapt them to given situations.”
With Chris now in his role as CEO, Nabeel asks what traits or strengths he thinks led him to where he is today:
“I’ve had some really tough experiences and some really good experiences, and it’s about appreciating that neither were really guaranteed. Timing is a major consideration that can lead to success or failure, so making sure that I appreciated those learnings along the way, and making sure I use the takeaways from each one of my adventures over the course of my career in my current position.”
Nabeel also inquired where Chris thinks we are headed in tech,
“Things are very different now than when I came into the industry. On the sustainability front and ESG in general, it’s great to have seen that become a priority of the industry, and us as executives are in a position to do something about it.”
We are living in a unique time right now with so much innovation and breakthroughs in products like autonomous vehicles and AI.. Nabeel asks Chris his thoughts,
“I think innovation in our industry is about innovative and creative ways to enable. It’s not about creating new technologies – it’s more about new ways of doing things.”
Phillip poses the question to Chris, have we as an industry done enough to try to foster the next generation of leaders?
“When I talk to anybody outside the industry, you get a bit of a blank stare as to what a data center is. I think there’s a lot more education that can be done for people to recognize that they can participate in what we do in our industry, because they’re probably not thinking about it.”
Chris shares a suggestion for the younger generation to look into based on his experiences,
“I’d encourage people to ask questions and recognize that there’s a lot to learn. Check your ego at the door and understand that you’re never going to know everything, so there’s something to learn from everyone.”