Achievement in adversity.
Wiljar Nesse joined DigiPlex as CEO just as the pandemic took hold in March 2020, so what have been his highlights?
As we approach the holiday season in the Nordics it is a good opportunity to reflect and look back at what we have achieved. The last 15 months have undoubtedly been some of the most challenging in my career, and I expect that many would agree. I joined DigiPlex as CEO just as the pandemic took hold in March 2020 and we, along with everyone else, were forced into extraordinary new ways of working. But this reminiscence is not intended to review the hardships and disruptions of the last year. Instead, I want to draw attention to the fantastic growth story that has happened against this backdrop.
DigiPlex is a positive, future-focused business with an irrepressible ‘can-do’ attitude. We set ourselves stretch goals and consistently met them. We had ambitious plans before COVID put many around the world into restrictions that made progress on any front difficult. Yet, in spite of this, we delivered all that we set out to achieve, according to our customers’ expectations. As a result, we were able not only to help our clients manage the huge increases in demand for their services but build the infrastructure for the next generation of growth. At a time when the pace of digitalisation has accelerated, we have put DigiPlex into the best possible position to capitalise on this opportunity.
Three new data centers
Opening three new data centers in little more than 12 months is an achievement for any provider in any circumstances. But that’s exactly what we did in the midst of COVID. Thanks to the faultless planning, well-honed processes and the absolute dedication of our highly skilled employees our new campus site at Hobøl, plus two new data centers at our Fetsund campus were handed over to grateful clients on time. These new sites mean that we added over 6,000m2 of white space and 12MW capacity to our clients just as their needs were growing fast. In addition, we’ve also secured land in Norway, Denmark and Sweden to further expand our footprint.
25% headcount growth
Building and operating at such pace also meant that we needed to invest quickly in staff. In 2020, even though staff were working from home in most cases, we recruited and grew our employee base by 25%. We needed high quality, technical staff with experience in building, operating and managing high performance critical infrastructure. Identifying and recruiting this calibre of staff is hard at the best of times. As identified in a recent study by Uptime Institute, there is a global shortage of qualified workers, so to meet our requirements we took the bold decision to hire for values and experience in relatable critical industries, and then train new staff on the specifics of data center operations.
The decision has paid off. Not only were we able to fill all our vacant positions with superb candidates but have delivered remote and in-situ training that has helped skilled professionals move into the burgeoning data center sector for the first time. Especially pleasing is the fact that even with this growth in headcount, we have retained and even strengthened our corporate culture. Usually, major influxes of new employees lead to a drop in employee satisfaction, but our 2021 Great Place to Work figures remained strong. This consistency allowed us to move up the Norway Best Places to work index to break into the top ten for the first time.
Continued Leadership on Sustainability
I’m also proud that with so much going on within the company we did not forget to look outside and ensure that we continued to play our part in driving sustainability at the core. In January we joined the Climate Neutral Data Center Pact – a pan-European self-regulating commitment to improve sustainability across the industry. This ensures that DigiPlex is at the heart of debate and action at a supranational level to build concrete measures to increase efficiency, lower water usage and CO2 emissions and tackle IT waste.
We also extended our commitment to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals with our involvement in a pioneering UNICEF programme to support women and children in Côte d’Ivoire by recycling plastics to make bricks to build schools. Our initial commitment is for 3 years in which time we hope to help UNICEF deliver over 500 classrooms for 25,000 children.
Delivering the Impossible
As we enter the summer months, and light appears at the end of the tunnel for many after a year or more of restrictions we are conscious that many in the world still have long journeys to escape COVID. These have been, and remain, challenging times for many. But it has also been a time of great accomplishment and positive change. What was previously deemed ‘impossible,’ for example to identify, test and produce an effective vaccine in a year, has been accomplished. It is important that as we look back, we remember our accomplishments. A great deal has been achieved, and strong foundations prepared for the next wave of growth. I’d like to thank everyone at DigiPlex, and our customers for their collective efforts and commitment to achieving so much over the past 15 months.
Industry Insights by DigiPlex CEO Wiljar Nesse