According to Interxion Ireland site manager Romuald Gvozdovic, the importance of customer service in the data centre industry is not always understood properly.
With so much data in the world, there are plenty of opportunities for tech talent in data centres. But what is it like to work in a data centre? What kind of skills do you need?
Interxion is a leading provider of colocation data centre services across Europe, supporting more than 1,600 customers in more than 40 data centres.
Romuald Gvozdovic is the site manager for Interxion Ireland. He spoke to Siliconrepublic.com about his career and gave us insights that anyone who wants to work in the data centre industry needs to know.
What first stirred your interest in a career in tech?
My first interest in technology came along at a young age, although I didn’t recognise it as technology at the time. When I was seven years old, my father brought home a brand new radio and all I could think about was that I wanted to understand exactly how it worked.
So, I took it apart, piece by piece, and, to my father’s dismay, the radio was destroyed by me. But it gave me a taste of my future career that I didn’t even recognise.
What education and other jobs led you to the role you now have?
To a teenager now, this would seem unimaginable, but my first experience with a computer was when I was 16 years old and my class had our first computer class. I was so intrigued by these machines and what they could mean.
My teacher explained to us that you could connect two computers in such a way that you could have social communication between the two machines, so that if one computer was in one apartment and another in a different apartment, that you could communicate between the two different machines.
For me, at the age of 16, this was groundbreaking. I’m not sure if there is a comparison for 16-year-olds today, but I’ll never forget that feeling of excitement and curiosity to know more.
Despite this initial interest, my career, like many others working in technology, didn’t initially lead me to this sector. I tried several diverse jobs, including retail security and hardware manufacturing.
In an unusual way, I think that my insight into retail security – the protocols and behaviour required – and my own interest in hardware and the skill-based learning I had on the job, led me to the data centre industry, where those two areas are integral to the organisation.
What were the biggest surprises and challenges you encountered on your career path?
I think, given my skillset, I found people management to be the biggest challenge and surprise in my career. It is an area I struggled with at the start. To think of how others feel and perceive their work in an organisation, and respond in such a way that you can motivate and inspire them, is something I continue to pursue every day in my job. When you do this well, you have an employee who is motivated, happy and excited by their work.
Secondly, I am continuously surprised by how different people react to different situations. The diverse ways people face a challenge, the different views and ideas, is something that continues to surprise and inspire me in the data centre industry.
Finally, the importance of customer service in the data centre industry is not always understood properly. We work with mission-critical data every day. In all of our interactions with customers, the professionalism and service required is paramount. Often, I think people misunderstand this area of data centres; the personalised approach is what our clients love about Interxion.
Was there any one person who was particularly influential as your career developed?
In school, I think the initial seed of interest in technology was planted, and inspired me to work in this area.
But today, and in my career to date, I can honestly say that the Interxion team are the biggest inspiration I have had. When I first joined Interxion, my manager didn’t view me as a number to get the work done; he brought me into the data centre and spoke to me about his vision of the data centre, of the role we play in the wider economy.
He showed me that in Interxion, there is so much room to grow – the only limit is yourself. He guided me through my first couple of months in Interxion and has been a support and inspiration ever since.
What do you enjoy about your job?
I really enjoy the data centre industry itself; it is so diverse and opens doors to so many opportunities. For a graduate or new entrant looking at the technology sector, I would strongly recommend data centres and data management.
In this sector, you must be up to date with the latest technology; you have to know and understand the newest technology and equipment, and how or why we should be using them. On the other side, you have to understand the clear protocols and regulations that we operate under.
It’s sometimes easy to forget the bigger picture; as an industry, we are between the internet and the end user, and that is an amazing position to occupy.
What aspects of your personality do you feel make you suited to this job?
For me, I don’t think it’s what I studied or learned in theory. I strongly believe that my willingness to learn and how I approach challenges with an open mind make me suited to being a site manager and team member at Interxion.
In our industry, we have to always think outside the box to find a solution that meets the needs of the client, in a professional manner.
Because of the positive experience I have had with the Interxion team and my manager, I also want to play a role as a motivator for the team that I lead and those I work with. It’s a skill I am working on and want to keep developing.
How did Interxion support you on your career path?
We’re in the IT and technology sector so, needless to say, at Interxion there is continuous upskilling for every member of the team, no matter what level you are at. My eagerness and the team I worked with opened so many doors to higher career progression, which I was always encouraged to take and follow.
Interxion is part of a global network. The access that we have to knowledge-sharing on a regular basis has greatly enhanced my own learning and my career. It means that when you have a challenge, you can benefit from the best in international thinking to approach and meet the challenge.
What advice would you give to those considering a career in tech?
The advice that I would give is not exclusive to the data industry but it has certainly served me well. Anyone who wants to work in technology needs to be prepared for challenges and change. This sector changes every minute, every hour and every day, so you need to be able to run with that and to keep moving.
I would ask them to be open-minded to learning opportunities and to listen to their colleagues – there is a wealth of information and talent there to mine.
Finally, I would say don’t ever be afraid to ask for support or to admit to mistakes. If I had gotten that advice earlier in my career, I would have progressed much faster.