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“Be passionate about what you do, and the money will follow”: An Interview with Roxanna Plinsky

In the latest of JSA’s Women in Digital Infrastructure series, Joao Marques Lima chats with Roxanna Plinsky.

Roxanna Plinsky is currently the chief growth officer at Portuguese hyperscale data centre developer Start Campus and also the founder and director of Global Data Centers & Partners which she launched in 2020.

She has more than 18 years of telecommunication, data centre, and cloud experience. Plinsky has built an extensive global network of industry leaders via partnerships with high-growth multinational corporations and working and living abroad for many years.

Plinsky has held several senior management roles with organizations in the United States, Singapore, and Europe. Prior to launching Global Data Center & Partners, Roxanna served as VP of Hyperscale Sales at Yondr, Americas, NTT Global Data Centers, EMEA (formerly e-shelter), and Bridge Data Centres, Singapore. Further, Roxanna also held a position as Hybrid IT Director at Level 3 Communications (acquired by CenturyLink in 2017), where she was responsible for all Data Center and Cloud transactions on the West Coast, United States. Level 3 Communications acquired tw telecom in 2017. Roxanna served as Alliances Director, managing technical projects between tw telecom and large Data Center REITs.

Plinsky relocated from Sweden to San Francisco in 1998. She completed her Science Studies and later received a B.A. in Marketing and Account Planning from the University of Art, San Francisco. Additionally, she is on the Advisory Board of Big Data, San Francisco State University, speaks four languages, and hold U.S. and Swedish citizenship.

In this conversation, Plinsky delves into her career journey over the years as well as what it takes to succeed in the data centre market, especially within the consulting world. 

JSA EU: Tell us about you and your journey. How did you get involved with the data centre world?

RP: I got involved in the data center industry through my work with a large telecom provider, which allowed me to collaborate with the largest Data Center Operator (REIT) to help develop and implement SDN in their data centers. 

SDN would then allow their customers to improve network control by enabling enterprises and service providers to respond quickly to changing business requirements. By introducing enterprises to multi-cloud deployments, we increased their market presence while expanding their customer base.      

JSA EU: What is the best professional advice you’ve ever received? 

RP: If you are passionate about what you do, you’ll be more likely to succeed, and the money will follow.

No matter the situation, always try to see things from another person’s perspective. This will help you understand the situation better and develop a more effective solution. 

JSA EU: How do you keep up-to-date with trends, and what is your trend to watch?

RP: To stay current with trends, I recommend following industry news sources, subscribing to industry newsletters such as The Tech Capital, and attending virtual and in-person events. I would also recommend following industry leaders and influencers on social media to learn about the latest developments and trends.

My trend to watch for data centers is affordable power and sustainability. Data centers increasingly seek ways to reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint. This includes exploring renewable energy sources, energy efficiency measures, and energy storage solutions. 

JSA EU: How has data centre consulting changed in recent years? 

RP: Data center consulting has changed significantly in recent years due to advances in cloud computing, the emergence of new technologies, and the increasing demand for data center efficiency and scalability. Cloud computing has enabled businesses to store, manage, and access data in a more cost-effective and efficient way. 

As a global expansion consulting firm for hyperscalers, data center operators, buyers, and investors, we focus on the fundamentals such as land finding, site sourcing, pre-transaction due diligence, preparing land for data center development, client advisory, and business growth. Our goal is to empower businesses of all sizes to explore, expand, and thrive across international borders. 

JSA EU: What are the main challenges faced by data centre projects today? 

RP: Customers increasingly seek digital solutions for their workplaces, driven by the need for Cloud computing, Big Data, IoT, AI, VR/AR, Edge computing, and the ubiquity of connectivity. Video streaming alone accounts for 60% of downstream internet traffic globally, highlighting the need for data centers that can scale to accommodate the increasing demand for high-quality video content without interruption. 

As data traffic consumption grows exponentially, customers require long-term sustainable, affordable solutions to reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to a greener planet. 

Customers seek energy and a robust connectivity ecosystem that is not only flexible and sustainable but also adaptable to other technologies. Additionally, they seek innovative solutions to address the challenges associated with resource allocation and repurposing old technologies to use them in new ways. 

JSA EU: Tell us about your new role with Start Campus.

RP: As Chief Growth Officer at Start Campus, Sines Portugal, I am responsible for developing and executing sales strategies and driving revenue growth through strategic partnerships and new business development. I work closely with the executive team developing and implementing growth strategies and capitalizing on customers’ success. 

Additionally, I’m responsible for creating and maintaining relationships with key partners and identifying new opportunities to maximize revenue growth. I am excited to be part of Start Campus and help to develop the largest data center project in Europe.

JSA EU: What can we expect from the company in the coming months? 

RP: Start Campus is implementing sustainable and 24/7 renewable energy solutions for the SINES Project. It’s a 100% green hyperscale data center ecosystem in Sines (150 kilometers south of Lisbon) and is at the forefront of sustainable and renewable energy solutions. 

The existing industrial site has been revitalized to harness energy from multiple renewable resources, providing an always-on, green power source that will deliver up to 495MW of power when the construction of the Campus is complete. 

The location has access to a private high-voltage power grid, and for supplemental power, the team has established connections with neighboring wind farms. SINES Project allows Start Campus to tap into LNG waste-ocean water solutions that help deliver industry PUE of 1.1 and negligible WUE using zero-consumption ocean water cooling solutions. Start Campus’s SINES Project is currently under construction, with the first facility projected to come online by Q1 2024. 

The 495 MW campus will have 9 buildings with modular and flexible designs starting at 2.5 MW/ data hall. The First facility on the data center campus will offer capacity of up to 15 MW across 6 data halls. The other 8 buildings will offer capacity of 60 MW.. The other 8 buildings will offer capacity of 60 MW.

JSA EU: What three skills would you say are crucial to your role?

RP: Firstly, communication. Being able to effectively communicate with colleagues, clients, and other stakeholders is essential for a successful role.

Secondly, problem-solving. Being able to quickly identify problems and come up with solutions is key for any role.

And lastly, organization. Staying organized and managing multiple tasks at once is essential for any role.

JSA EU: What advice would you give to younger women entering data centres today?

RP: Develop a strong technical foundation. Data centers are complex and require a deep understanding of both hardware and software. Take the time to learn the fundamentals of both and stay up to date with the latest advancements in the field.

You also need to network, network, network! Connect with other professionals in the industry and build your contacts. This can help you stay informed about new technology and job opportunities.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Asking questions is a great way to learn and grow. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice from more experienced colleagues.

It is important to also get certified. Obtaining certifications can help you stand out from the competition and demonstrate your expertise.

Lastly, stay organized. Data centers are complex and require a lot of organization. Make sure you have a good system in place to keep track of tasks, documents, and other data.

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