In this episode of Nomad Futurist, hosts Nabeel Mahmood and Phillip Koblence talk with Deidre’ (Dee) Smith, a leader in technology and sustainability. Smith brings deep expertise in problem-solving, risk advisory, and technology deployment, and has managed multi-million dollar P&Ls. Committed to sustainability, she promotes responsible AI development for a greener future. Recognized as a visionary, Smith has a proven track record in business growth, major restructuring, and operational enhancement through innovative leadership. Her extensive experience spans digital transformation, entrepreneurship, sales, and technical services, driving successful initiatives from company integrations to strategic partnerships.

Dee joined Nabeel and Phillip from Northern Virginia to discuss her journey from South Africa to America, her entry into the data center industry many years ago, and her current initiatives. Initially a business analyst in financial services, she quickly transitioned to the technology sector, leading to roles in data centers and beyond.

Coming from Africa, the challenges are a little more complicated because of the power situation. It is difficult and so that was even more interesting for me because the challenges there are not the same necessarily as the challenges one would experience here or in Asia or even in Europe. And having worked on multiple continents, the approaches have some cultural differences.

Beginning her career in South Africa, Dee was in a constant state of inconsistent power and experienced power challenges such as outages lasting anywhere from 4 to 16 hours. This prevalent issue sparked inspiration that led to the creation of the organization, DS&A, an organization that provided strategic advisory to many companies around the world and in particular, data center education to the African continent. An entire industry was spawned through this training. It also was her inspiration for joining Powering Potential, a non-profit that provides education through technology, using solar power to run computers, in developing countries.

Powering Potential is an organization that provides laptops, computers, solar power, and we train teachers on how to teach the kids technology skills so that we create digital advocates for our industry going forward, but we also bring more people into the industry. And education is obviously key to building the future.

Through her work with Powering Potential and transforming companies by training them on diversity, inclusion, and more, Dee has helped shape the industry going forward for the next generation to come. Her introduction into the data industry was influenced by global projects that involved data centers as well as her curiosity for the knowledge people in the industry had to offer.

I think it’s important just to listen to understand because you get so much input and so much information from people. And it was always just interesting to me. You just never run out of stuff to talk about. And it’s a constantly changing environment with constant challenges.

In this episode, Dee Smith shared an abundance of inspirational, eye-opening, and thought-provoking information. Her influence in the industry has provided awareness and resources that are constantly creating change for the better. To learn more about the work she is doing currently, connect with Dee on LinkedIn and listen to the full episode.

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