‘Addressing sustainability is a big focus for the data centre sector’

25 Aug 2022

Judith Gardiner. Image: Equinix

Judith Gardiner’s career has taken her from Ireland to Amsterdam. She has spent nearly a decade at Equinix, which wants to make its mark in the growing data centre space.

Judith Gardiner is vice-president for growth and emerging markets at data centre specialist Equinix. From her base in Amsterdam, she is responsible for countries in the EMEA region including Ireland, Finland, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

Gardiner has more than two decades of experience in European tech. At Equinix, she now works closely with managing directors in each country under her remit to further develop the company’s reach.

‘Now, businesses in every industry are either accelerating or amplifying their digital capabilities’

What are the biggest challenges facing your sector and how are you tackling them?

The chip shortage affects many of our customers. In response to this global issue, we are building our own supply chain and are using that to support an increased uptake of digital services, such as our Equinix Metal solution, which offers customers the opportunity to rent hardware directly from Equinix instantly without the need to procure their own supply.

Addressing sustainability is also a big focus for the sector. At Equinix, we have worked hard to become a leader in sustainability in the data centre industry. Our sustainability efforts are led by a global programme director and executed by a strong and dedicated team who ensure we honour our commitment to becoming climate neutral by 2030.

In Ireland, we are working with Dublin’s energy agency, Codema, to find out if we can use our waste data centre heat to benefit vital public infrastructure in the Blanchardstown area. We get involved in smaller projects too like DCs for Bees, where we planted orchards around Dublin.

What are the key sector opportunities you’re capitalising on?

Before the pandemic, digitalisation was happening more rapidly in industries like financial services and travel. Now, businesses in every industry are either accelerating or amplifying their digital capabilities.

Equinix has become vital to the construction and manufacturing industries as they need real-time information for their sites. A great example of this is Ireland-based engineering and construction company Mercury Engineering, which builds many of our data centres in Europe.

They used Equinix Fabric – our highly flexible interconnection solution – to create a secure, resilient, high-performance infrastructure that gives workers reliable access to Microsoft Azure services and other SaaS applications at construction sites worldwide. This connectivity allows the company to back up and share construction data in less time, ensuring the data is safe and available when and where it’s needed.

What set you on the road to where you are now?

I’m a child of 1970s Ireland and there was a lot of talk about inflation and recession when I was growing up. So, when I left school, it was about getting a good, stable job, as opposed to following your passion. I went down the road of accountancy and stayed in finance for quite a few years.

I moved to Amsterdam for a role in 2001, thinking that I would be there for a year or two – 21 years later I’m still here and still love it! I eventually joined Equinix here in 2013. I’m lucky because I love my job and it truly is a source of passion for me – it just took a while to discover what that was.

What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?

At the time, taking on this role felt like a big risk as it was unfamiliar territory. It was daunting initially, but my colleagues acted as real supporters, so I could talk through my concerns and challenges with them.

Most of us have suffered from some level of imposter syndrome in our careers, so getting past that and going for something you’re passionate about is definitely a risk worth taking.

What one work skill do you wish you had?

One thing I’m getting better at is putting myself out there and batting away any seeds of doubt. The trust and culture we cultivate here at Equinix is helping me a lot with that because there is so much support and collaboration which instils confidence.

An important skill I’m consciously cultivating is to fail fast and move on, learn and then go again. Removing that fear of failure enables success.

How do you get the best out of your team?

I believe that the key to getting the best out of people is a mixture of trust, collaboration and empowerment.

I love to see people growing with the company, or seeing someone I hired years ago having now worked their way up the ranks. That trust and support at the beginning and throughout their journey is vital to their success and is why they’re still here.

Have you noticed a diversity problem in your sector?

Making sure companies hire consistently from a diverse talent pool is a challenge that all sectors, not just the tech sector, face.

Equinix embraces a broad definition of diversity that includes gender, sexuality, ethnicity, disability, background and experience, as well as other dimensions such as lifestyle and family responsibilities. Our goal is to increase the representation of all dimensions to reflect the customers we serve and the increasingly diverse and global marketplace we operate in.

Inclusion starts with creating a safe space and enabling everyone to be seen, heard, valued and respected for who they are. We strive for this in our women’s leadership network, which has been a powerful force for me and my colleagues. I have also realised that role modelling is essential, and I do a lot more work in that space, listening to other people’s stories and telling my own.

What’s the best piece of career advice you have ever received?

I would say it’s actually the piece I didn’t receive! My daughter is 13 and my advice to her now is to follow your passion, discover what you love and do that.

It took me a long time to figure that out because I didn’t have the perception that it’s possible to have a job that you are passionate about. If you have that lens, I think you can get to a place where you love what you do much earlier than I did. It’s about taking the opportunities that feel right in your gut, rather than in your head.

What are the essential tools and resources that get you through the working week?

First and foremost, I’d like to name a person here – my executive assistant, Joke. She makes sure I balance work and home life, as well as taking some time out for myself.

When I started working at Equinix in 2013, I was clear that I never wanted to apologise for being a working mother. I said as long as you trust me and let me do my job, we are going to get on just fine! I am so grateful to Equinix for trusting me to do that and for providing me with the environment that enables me to perform to the best of my ability. They support me and, in turn, I am able to support others.

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