Nomad Futurist podcast

Happy Birthday for the Third Time!

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Few people in this world are destined to be reborn – let alone more than once! The Nomad Futurists planned to fly out together for an AFCOM Chicago event on June 28th but found themselves immersed in a completely unexpected sequence of events. This riveting #NomadFuturist podcast is an incredible true story about tennis, cricket, community, friendship, superheroes and ultimately, hope. Hear Phil recount the events that transpired on June 26th, Nabeel’s birthday, and during the tumultuous days that followed.

More episodes from "Nomad Futurist"

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    Nomads Wandering


    In this first #NomadFuturist podcast of the New Year, Phil and Nabeel take some time to consider some of the big takeaways from 2021, discussing subjects that range from the ongoing effect of Covid on different industries, the impact of a transformed workplace for both employees and employers, the permanence of disruption, the Great Resignation, technology predictions, and the new Nomad Futurist Foundation.  Phil speaks about how the new demand for digital acceleration across so many industries has raised awareness of the little understood world of critical infrastructure.  “When the pandemic started almost two years ago, there was a huge focus on the importance of the underlying infrastructure that operates our digital world. Given that people have started to acutely depend on digital infrastructure, you now have people focused on the resilience of the internet connectivity in their own homes.”   Phil and Nabeel discuss the Great Resignation and the growing appeal of what one could call the Nomad lifestyle — one in which people are moving away from feeling defined by a single company that they work for, in which more people are increasingly working for themselves, to achieve greater benefits and control over their lives.   As Nabeel makes predictions of the next big tech trends, particularly of a totally connected world, Phil communicates their vision of a more inclusive future that bridges the current digital divide. “We need to be sure that we are not leaving people behind. This should be an opportunity for everyone to grow and to have more efficiency and productivity within their lives.”   Both men talk about their desire to make a meaningful contribution to society, to make the world a better place and their desire to do so through the Nomad Futurist Foundation. In Nabeel’s words:   “We need to help the younger generation and pass the baton!”   In that spirit, Phil and Nabeel express their hope to raise funding to help teach children technical skill sets and to develop scholarship funds for kids in underserved communities. Phil captures the core mission:   “We’re trying to build a foundation and make sure that children who are exposed to technology at a young age understand not just how it works but why it works…that’s going to be the way that we create the leadership of tomorrow.”   Phil and Nabeel close by inviting the Nomad Futurist audience to meet them on the road as well as to keep tuning in for the next series of podcasts. “Your help is imperative. We can’t do this without you!” Phillip Koblence and Nabeel Mahmood are the co-founders of the (Nomad Futurist Podcast) and the (Nomad Futurist Foundation). They share a common passion for examining the evolution of technology and society, and for developing technology leadership. 
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    Data Drives It!


    What does a nuclear power plant and a data center have in common? In this dynamic #NomadFuturist podcast, Michail (Mike) Clutter shares his origin story, his passion for data, and a millennial’s perspective on the data center industry. Clutter’s passion for technology has been a constant throughout his career. He talks about how he took an entrance exam for the US Navy on a lark and ended up doing so well that he was invited to take an additional test which he aced. “It was a math and engineering-based test of some analytical and trouble shooting skills.”  This led to a stint in the Navy working in the field of nuclear engineering. “We were splitting uranium but it’s safe…we were making power and we had to keep the power running and we had to make sure that nothing went wrong.” After five years in the service, Clutter joined Emerson Network Power where he worked on engineering and monitoring. During this time, he became aware of the importance of data, which has become a major focus of his career. This in turn led to a strategic role at Casne Engineering, a full-service electrical engineering, control systems integration, and technology services firm that focuses on historicizing and analyzing data. “I really loved using the data to make meaningful decisions.” With his data lenses on, Clutter sees commonality between seemingly different industries.  “It’s funny. A nuclear power plant is not that different from a data center. And it’s not that different from a manufacturing plant. There’s things that need to be done and there’s data that’s collected. And then you look at the data and then you make decisions based on it.” Clutter talks about his involvement with the AFCOM Gen/Next Board which has a goal to integrate the perspective of a younger audience into the data center space. He outlines the issues created by the ongoing adoption of new messaging modalities and how this poses a challenge vis-a-vis cross generational communication.    Clutter also talks about the younger generation’s interest in sustainability and  inclusiveness, the need to maintain a commitment to innovation, and the need to bridge the gap between the people designing the information systems and the people responsible for keeping the machines running.  He sums up his interview with these words to the young: “Data drives almost every industry, not just data centers and it’s funny how it’s full circle because then all that data gets inserted back into a data center to be used. Every time you look at your phones …That’s what drives it!”     Michail (Mike) Clutter is a Managing Partner and Technical Program Manager at Casne Engineering Inc. and has been working in Data Centers for over 15 years. After his military career as a Navy Nuclear Reactor Operator, Mike immediately fit in with the hard-working, event-driven community that Data Centers rely on. Adept in both construction and operations, Mike has played a key role in the launch of many of today’s well known Data Center facilities on the West Coast. It was in operations and maintenance that he found himself a niche in OT systems such as SCADA, BMS, CMMS and BMS. Today, he is using his knowledge and experience to provide access to reliable and concise data in hopes to drive innovation towards scalability and sustainability.    
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    Being the Smartest Person in the Room


    In this lively #NomadFuturist podcast recorded at Data Center World 2021, Phil and Nabeel speak with Dennis Hahn, a cloud and data center subject matter expert and conference speaker. Hahn recounts the varied career path that led him to become Senior Analyst, Data Center Storage at OMDIA—one that encompassed mechanical, industrial and software engineering, plastics design, strategic planning, project and product management. Hahn always knew that he wanted to be an engineer and studied industrial and mechanical engineering in college. He did a ten-year stint as a mechanical engineer at NCR National Cash Register focusing primarily on packaging. He ended up becoming an expert in plastics design, working closely with the molders who make plastic parts. This led him to computer analysis and learning CAD systems. Hahn then pursued an MBA, moving from mechanical engineering into project and product management. When presented with the choice of moving into management or pursuing a career as a subject matter expert (SME), Hahn followed his natural proclivities and selected the SME path. “There’s nothing like coming into a room and being the smartest guy in the room on your product…as I think about my mid-career especially, that goal has really served me well.” It was a natural progression from subject matter expert to product management. “Product management is a great career within the IT industry…it’s good to have an MBA and an engineering degree. You’re constantly straddling business and engineering while doing the job.” The next focus in Hahn’s career was strategic planning which allowed him to work closely with software engineers. He also had the opportunity to work with executives which in turn led to advanced development roles, leading software teams on major cloud projects. Hahn talks about the opportunities within the IT industry for both individual contributors and managers. “You can go up the technical side, you can get very technical, you can get very well paid, or you can go up the manager side. You manage people, you motivate people. I see value in all that.” Hahn’s parting advice for the young: “Engage in continual learning and be curious!” His own journey was one he could not have predicted. “I’ve had some pretty major transitions. To think that I’m doing plastic design one day and years later I’m in the data center picking up the fiber cables into the fiber channel switch and turning it on and it actually all works!” Dennis Hahn is a cloud and data center subject matter expert, working for OMDIA to lead data center storage research, covering SAN, NAS, DAS, cloud storage, NVMe over Fabrics (NVMeOF), and software-defined storage (SDS). He has more than 35 years of broad industry technology experience, which includes server and storage design, product and project management, corporate and product strategy, and storage innovations development and market insight. Prior to joining OMDIA in 2018, Hahn held positions at NetApp, Symbios Logic, Engenio, and LSI. Hahn holds patents in storage systems design, data caching, and hybrid cloud data migration. He earned a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and an MBA from Wichita State University. He is also certified in Agile development practices and cloud solution architectures.
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    Keeping it Cool


    In this lively #NomadFuturist podcast, Michael Butigian and Jim Lubratt, award winners at Data Center World 2021, share their respective career journeys in the world of critical infrastructure and HVAC, and their common passion for leaving behind a better world.   Their journeys reveal some commonalities. Both men were athletes in college, Butigian playing basketball and Lubratt playing hockey. Both concluded that they were not going to be able to go pro.    Butigian left college and did a four-year stint in night school to learn HVAC and found that he had a strong affinity for the field. He founded CCIA Mechanical which provides commercial and residential HVAC and cooling solutions in the NY tristate area.   Lubratt studied mechanical engineering and ultimately joined his father’s firm SVL, one of the Midwest's largest commercial heating, ventilating, air-conditioning (HVAC) and cleanroom equipment dealers where Lubratt is now vice president.   Both men became involved in the world of data centers where cooling is an essential aspect of operations. And both became fascinated by the energy-saving nano cooling system offered by Hydromx Inc., where Butigian serves as COO and Lubratt is an investor and board member.   They share a commitment to reducing energy consumption and leaving a better world behind for future generations. In Lubratt’s words:   “You get to a point, it’s not really about the money. It’s about making a difference, doing something for the better.”   Butigian and Lubratt also share a recognition that the data center world has a tremendous need for people in the trades and they encourage young people to consider the trades as a viable career option. In Butigian’s words:   “…too many kids are going into college for the college experience and coming out with no skills. Trades are really hurting. So, I really would encourage young people who are not going to become lawyers and doctors and accountants to really think about trades, because trades are always going to be needed.”   Lubratt also makes a point that critical infrastructure is a people business and encourages young people to be networking and reaching out constantly.  “Meet people…whether on Zoom or face-to-face. Get to know them. Figure out what makes them tick, what do they want, what drives them… As soon as you figure out people’s likes, needs, and wants, you can figure out how to integrate that into your business and how you can help them.” Butigian regrets not learning more about accounting early on and has the following advice for the young:   “When you’re taking an accounting class, pay attention! To me accounting is the ninth element that just cannot be explained…If you’re new to the working world, find that accountant in your company and become their best friend. Take them to lunch, learn what they do.”   In summing things up, Lubratt conveys the importance of taking care of other human beings, and that extends to taking care of planet Earth.   “We’ve got to help this planet. We’ve got to help this globe that we live on…so, it’s going to take a lot of smart people to get it done.”    Michael Butigian is Chief Operations Officer at Hydromx, Inc. whose unique nano fluid cooling heat transfer solution helps save the planet by providing affordable, (dependable cutting-edge technology) to reduce the use of energy through the increased speed of heat transfer in closed-loop hydronic heating and cooling systems. Butigian is also President of C.C.I.A. Mechanical which has provided HVAC services to commercial and residential clients in the NY tristate area since 1987. Butigian is a Master Mechanic expert in all phases of HVAC since 1973. He lives in NY and is married with four children.   Jim Lubratt is Vice President at Schwab-Vollhaber-Lubratt, Inc (SVL).
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    Winning Together


    Jezzibell Gilmore is passionate about the internet as a vehicle for communication and collaboration. In this inspiring #NomadFuturist podcast, she shares an inspiring and entrepreneurial story that took her from fine arts to technology and the co-founding of PacketFabric. Gilmore hails from Beijing, China where one side of her family was deeply rooted in theater and the performing arts, and the other side was involved in academia and the sciences. As a teenager Gilmore came to the United States and was dropped off by her mother at a boarding school with her suitcases and dictionaries and told “I’ll see you in six months and I hope you will be able to speak English.” In retrospect, Gilmore appreciates how this challenging experience increased her resilience.  After studying fine arts in college, Gilmore worked at a law firm. In the late 90’s a friend invited her to join AboveNet, a fledgling internet company, describing the internet as “the printing press of today’s world…allowing us to distribute information and proliferate it worldwide.” Gilmore was hooked. “I knew nothing about technology. I didn’t know anything about the internet but what could be better than allowing people to gain access to information! I just jumped in with both feet and started in the industry.” After AboveNet, Gilmore worked at several tech companies in the networking space, in operations and then in business development. She immediately understood the tremendous potential of the internet to provide information and empower people throughout the world. This understanding has inspired her throughout her career. In 2015, Gilmore co-founded PacketFabric and received support for her Network-as-a-Service vision. “I felt that the Internet needed to be global, to be accessible for everyone…that access to infrastructure needed to happen automatically, flexibly, and on demand.” The company now operates in three continents with Gilmore serving as Chief Commercial Officer. She discusses the passion that drives her and her colleagues. “I’m very lucky. I surround myself with people who are equally passionate about what we are doing…my spouse and all my friends and the people that I work with, we all circle around the axis of making the internet and the world a better place.” Gilmore is always engaging with new technologies and platforms, reading, and listening, learning, and absorbing information.  She encourages others to reach out, to not be held back by self-doubt. Despite being a natural introvert, Gilmore has pushed beyond her natural proclivities and is constantly communicating with friends and colleagues.  “Pushing your boundary as an individual is really important…We’re not alone. Nobody succeeds by themselves. Again, it goes back to collaboration, communication, exchange of ideas. When we win, we win together!” Her advice to the young: “Believe in yourself. Whether you think something is right or wrong, follow your instinct.” Jezzibell Gilmore, co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer at PacketFabric, has over 20 years of experience working in the telecommunications industry. PacketFabric redefines how companies build and use network services. The PacketFabric Network-as-a-Service platform provides instant connectivity between colocation facilities, to major cloud providers, and internet exchanges. Prior to co-founding PacketFabric in 2015, Jezzibell was an early-stage employee of AboveNet Communications and Akamai Technologies. She has also previously served as VP of Business Development for GTT, and as a NANOG board member.
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    Making Meaningful Connections


    Jane Hsieh finds meaningful connections everywhere — among different groups and generations of people, as well as connections between art, fashion, industrial design, engineering, marketing, sales, and customers around the world.   In this inspiring #NomadFuturist podcast, recorded at Data Center World 2021, Hsieh shares her journey to becoming Sr. Director of Sales for Aligned Data Centers and a member of the AFCOM GenNext Advisory Board — a story that reveals her great resilience, passion for acquiring knowledge, and ability to connect the dots. Hsieh learned early on how to adapt to new environments when she entered middle school at age thirteen as a non-English speaking immigrant from Taiwan.  “It was a difficult transition starting middle school when you don’t even know your ABCs.”  Hsieh soon added English to her roster of languages — her native Taiwanese, Mandarin Chinese and Japanese. She later added French and Brazilian Portuguese to the list. Based on her interest in languages and global trade, it was natural for Hsieh to pursue studies in International Relations at the University of California, Davis. After graduation, Hsieh had a job in place as a fashion/textile global buyer for a department store chain, but the financial meltdown of 2008 impacted her position. She pivoted and went to work at Power Management IC where she started in sales support. She then transitioned into industrial computing, unified communications in the cloud, and ultimately, building white spaces for IT infrastructure.  Hsieh shares the “Aha” moment she had during her first customer meeting where she watched as an engineer created a line drawing to illustrate a series of voltage step-downs.  “That completely opened my mind. Of my God, this is a piece of art! …The thought of being able to connect people’s ideas from an engineering perspective and then transitioning to the simpler version for the sales and marketing teams… seeing the value in that, for any product that technology is involved in.” Hsieh is excited about the newest developments in 5G and IoT.  She is also a big proponent of networking, highlighting the importance of connecting with global customers who are looking to have conversation and collaboration, as well as the need to increase communication within and across the whole critical infrastructure ecosystem. “There have to be more ways that we can connect. I encourage all of us to go to conventions or to even reach out to peers and ask a simple question ‘How are you doing? and start with that. Because we are all looking for meaningful connections.” Hsieh’s advice for the next generation: “Don’t be afraid to reach out. Stay curious and stay hungry.” Jane Hsieh is a technology professional with 11+ years of strategic business development and channel sales leadership experience in the mission-critical infrastructure and unified communications sectors. Her experience working closely with international customers and partners, coupled with an in-depth understanding of global markets and best business practices, enable her to specialize in addressing complex technology issues with best of class solutions. She is a member of the AFCOM GenNext Advisory Board, and a long-time participant of Infrastructure Masons, honored by iMason’s IM100. As Sr. Director of Sales for Aligned, Jane is responsible for strategic account development within the enterprise sector. In addition to cultivating loyal, long-term professional relationships, she develops and executes go-to-market strategies and drives overall loyalty for the Aligned brand. Jane holds a Bachelor of Art, International Relations with a focus on World Trade from the University of California, Davis and Business Economics from Fudan University of Shanghai, China. Outside of work, Jane enjoys family time and traveling to learn new languages, taste new cuisines, and expand her perspective. She...
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    You Must Have Integrity


    As a boy, Levy was enchanted and fascinated to see new buildings being constructed which ultimately led him to study engineering. In addition to his interest in how things “worked,” Levy was highly creative as a young person—playing guitar, painting, and drawing cartoons. He also designed packaging for toys manufactured at his parents’ toy factory as well as decorated stands for toy fairs. Levy talks about the foundational experience of accompanying his parents every December as they gave away toys to children who were in hospital. “I always admired my parents. They taught me to have integrity.” While at university, Levy pursued courses of study in both civil and electrical engineering. Equipped with multiple degrees, he went on to work for a firm, then struck out on his own as an entrepreneur, forming a series of successful companies. With the era of the telco deregulation in the 90s as well as the advent of the Internet, Levy became focused on data centers. Six years ago, he made another foray into academia, this time pursuing a PhD doing research on data center management. As a professor, Levy recounts how he has had to address his students’ misconceptions about the relationship between data centers and the cloud. “It’s really simple. The cloud is just really interconnected data centers on the ground. Everything is on the ground!” Levy is enthusiastic about the potential for academia to demystify critical infrastructure and sees the tremendous demand for both graduates and technicians to work in the industry. “We need people to design, provide architecture, engineering, human resources, legal, finance… everything will relate to the data center.” Levy encourages young people to follow their passion, to pursue what they want to pursue. His final advice: “You must have integrity… we have to give back to society when we have been blessed with many gifts. We must help others.” Levy is a seasoned engineer and data center subject matter expert. He currently leads the physical infrastructure research in UPS and thermal management at OMDIA. With over 25 years of professional experience in the industry, Levy has a diverse background in planning, design, management, risk assessment, and strategic consulting. He has been director and founding partner of engineering companies and has dedicated more than 15 years to data center infrastructure projects. Levy’s research and vision center on improving data center performance while reducing risk, through the use of real-time key indicators, AI-enabled analytics, and automated actionable recommendations. As a university professor, Moises has taught electrical engineering and data center courses at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Moises holds a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering, a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering, and Bachelor’s degrees in Electrical and Civil Engineering. He is a contributor to international standards, the author of numerous publications, and a speaker at conferences including Data Center World, BICSI, and 7x24 Exchange.
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    From DJ to DE-CIX


    During his university years, Ivo A. Ivanov was a radio DJ host. Now, two decades later, he is the CEO of DE-CIX International, the world’s leading Internet Exchange. How did this happen?   In this #NomadFuturist podcast Ivanov shares his fascinating journey with Phil and Nabeel.    Ivanov hails from Bulgaria where he began his law studies before moving to Germany. As a student in the early 90s, he worked as a radio station anchor/moderator hosting a prime-time weekend show that gave tips about the best parties and clubs for his audience.   This was Ivanov’s introduction to media which provided a natural segue into commercial law with a strong focus on media and telecommunications. “Media was the initial spark and over time I went deeper into the specifics to telecommunications, infrastructure regulation, etc.”   After university, Ivanov ended up working in the legal department at DE-CIX and ultimately became the head of corporate legal. He found it exciting to be involved in the telco end of the business.   In 2006 DE-CIX made the decision to expand into the Eastern European market. Ivanov, who spoke Russian, was invited to take part in the first trip to Moscow. “We had a lot of discussions with Russian operators. We met in a Moscow pub at minus 30 degrees Centigrade outside with the drivers of the bosses waiting in front, their engines on for two-and-a-half hours!”   He describes the dynamic landscape of the early years of network interconnection in Eastern Europe.   As Ivanov got more deeply involved in the business aspects of the firm and learned about its operations, he fell in love with the data center interconnection business. Over the course of his career, he has visited over 275 data centers on four continents.    “The business is so interesting. it’s a universe of different individuals, of different business models… of services, products, ideas, creative approaches. You can never get bored with what the industry has to offer.”   Ivanov talks about the creativity involved in growing a business, about the need to maintain flexibility to enable different markets as well as to foster the relationships between people.   “The industry is made by people, not by robots!” Now, more than ever, in the age of the pandemic, Ivanov stresses the importance of maintaining the ecosystem, maintaining the relationships between people, between families.   “This is my main motivation, to do this with a passion and with pleasure…providing the services, the infrastructure to make everyone’s life better!” —————————————————————————————————— Ivo A. Ivanov is Chief Operating Officer of the DE-CIX Group AG and Chief Executive Officer of DE-CIX International - responsible for the global business activities of the Internet Exchange Operator. Ivanov has more than 15 years of experience in the regulatory, legal, and commercial Internet environment. Ivanov joined DE-CIX in January 2007. In recent years, Ivanov has been deeply involved in the establishment of DE-CIX sites in Istanbul, Palermo, Madrid, Marseille, New York, Dallas, Dubai (UAE-IX powered by DE-CIX) as well as Mumbai (Mumbai IX powered by DE-CIX), and several DE-CIX consultancy projects in Africa, Asia, and Europe.  Ivanov has an educational background focused on Law and Business. Fluent in German, English, Russian, and Bulgarian, he graduated from a German business school in 1995 and holds two Law degrees from the Universities of Sofia (Bulgaria) and Bonn (Germany). After graduation, he worked as a lawyer, with a focus on e-commerce law, IP law, telecommunications law, and data protection law.
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    The Happy and the Lucky


    In this fascinating #NomadFuturist podcast, recorded at Data Center World in Orlando, Florida, Phil and Nabeel learn about the extraordinary journey of Bill Kleyman, Master of Ceremonies for the event and EVP of Digital Solutions at Switch Data Centers. This journey about technology, life, determination, and optimism starts with a small boy in the Ukraine whose first experience of tech was learning telegraphy from his older brother.  “That was the first time, can you imagine me saying that as a millennial, that I was introduced to the concept of connecting people together, through a telegraph in the former Soviet Union!” After the collapse of the Soviet Union, an eight-year-old Kleyman arrived in New York City with his family, a backpack, a few tin soldiers and a sense of wonder and curiosity that never left him. Kleyman immediately grasped the unlimited possibilities of tech, taking AP courses in computer engineering and math while in high school. An avid and fearless learner, he went on to obtain a degree in network engineering, followed by an MBA in business and marketing and a master’s in information systems security. Kleyman encourages folks in the tech space to go to business school so that they can understand the language of business. “I started in tech really young, this childhood naivete and willingness to learn really propelled me not to be afraid to make a mistake, fail fast and get up even faster. As a result, I wasn’t afraid to speak to executives, see them as human beings, exchange ideas.” This fearlessness and ability to connect with others propelled Kleyman’s career. In addition, he recounts how his experience as an immigrant has contributed to his success. “You’ve got to work your way all the way up and that’s really the kind of ethic that I’ve had my entire life. But also, try to surround yourself with people who know more, who you can ask questions and not be afraid to look silly.” In addition to making his way in the US, Kleyman found a way to stay connected to his cultural roots. Until his early twenties, he and his brother performed in KVN “The Club for the Happy and the Lucky,” a Slavic comedy improv show appearing in multiple cities throughout the US. As a leader and manager, Kleyman is insightful, generous, and compassionate in his approach. He talks about the characteristic psychologies of different generations and the strategies he uses to help employees grow and succeed. Kleyman’s advice to the young: “Start with a vision and follow your passion and just continue to grow. Never ever lose your childhood sense of wonder…keep playing…keep imagining. And honestly, just be humble and kind. That’s the secret sauce!” Bill Kleyman brings more than 15 years of experience to his role as Executive Vice President of Digital Solutions at Switch. Using the latest innovations, such as AI, machine learning, data center design, DevOps, cloud, and advanced technologies, Mr. Kleyman delivers solutions to customers that help them achieve their business goals and remain competitive in their market. An active member in the technology industry, he was ranked #16 globally in the Onalytica study that reviewed the top 100 most influential individuals in the cloud landscape and #4 in another Onalytica study, which reviewed the industry’s top Data Security Experts. Prior to joining Switch, Kleyman was the CTO at MTM Technologies where he worked with new designs around virtualization, data center architecture, and cloud design. He was also a leader in the cloud and DevOps practice at EPAM Systems. Kleyman is currently an Advisory Board Member at MTM Technologies and an Advisory Board Council Member at Infrastructure Masons (iMasons) where he chairs the IM Millennials/GenZ Member Resource Group; focused on inspiring and bringing young people into the technology industry. Kleyman enjoys writing, blogging, and educating colleagues about...
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    A Fearless Innovator


    This engaging #NomadFuturist podcast takes listeners on an exciting ride with Phill Lawson-Shanks, a fearless IT innovator whose insatiable curiosity, daring, and ability to see patterns led him to insights and accomplishments that have helped advance the world of IT and critical infrastructure—including the development of some of the earliest instances of edge and cloud computing as well as advancements in data center efficiencies. Lawson-Shanks, who found out later in life that he is dyslexic, was “released” from university into the real world where he started his journey as a security guard for British Airport authorities. Despite not having the typical academic credentials, he quickly won a slot to receive computer training. His natural aptitude for pattern recognition and for what he characterizes as 3D thinking led to a career in programming, followed by network development.  Since then, Lawson-Shanks has partnered with CEOs at various firms on the forefront of innovation and is now the Chief Innovation Officer at Aligned Energy where groundbreaking developments in cooling efficiency are transforming the data center space. Lawson-Shanks believes that dyslexia may have given him an edge in his career. “I don’t understand sequential thinking, so I just jump and go and do things. I don’t take no for an answer.” Lawson-Shanks is modest and playful as he engages with Phil and Nabeel, touching on his involvement with the transition from mainframes to minicomputers, to networks, to the Internet, to data centers, the edge, and sustainability. He describes how he moved from company to company as he took on exciting new challenges. “I don’t thrive in large corporations. I like the scrappiness of the startup, the turnaround, the smaller entity. I like bringing it to that stage, that pivot point where it’s going to become something enormous and then look for the next thing.” Lawson-Shanks has a constant childlike excitement and expectation about what we can do and where we can go. He sees many areas as important to the future including augmented reality, IoT, 5G, machine learning and the circular economy. He is extremely optimistic about the future of the industry. “Data centers are truly the engines of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. And there’s so much going on that you can do to help the people who are changing how we all live and breathe.” What does he see as critical skills for success? “It’s the ability to recognize context and jump—being prepared to buckle down and do what needs to be done, but also,­­ if there’s an opportunity to do it differently, to be able to convince whoever that power broker is that there’s a better or different way… so communication skills are important, being able to read people, and timing.” Phill Lawson-Shanks has more than 25 years of experience identifying new opportunities for further growth of leading data center infrastructure, network architecture, and cloud solutions in the U.S. and abroad. As Chief Innovation Officer at Aligned, Lawson-Shanks is responsible for the management of revenue generation and profitability objectives, as well as championing key innovation, technology, and sustainability strategies aimed at maximizing new business development. Prior to joining Aligned, Lawson-Shanks served as Chief Innovation Officer at EdgeConneX, where he was instrumental in driving strategies focused on creating the next generation of network edge-based data centers for the digital content ecosystem. Throughout his career, Lawson-Shanks has also served in numerous senior executive-level positions at Virtacore, Alcatel-Lucent, Savvis (now CenturyLink Technology Solutions), and MCI (now Verizon Digital Media Services). He currently holds eight active technology patents and serves on the Board of Directors for Netrality Data Centers as well as the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA) Advisory Board.

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