During the current Covid-19 crisis, Garry Connolly, Founder & President of Host In Ireland interviews Terry Gillick, Senior Vice President of Bureau Veritas Primary Integration, a leading global data center commissioning firm & valued Host In Ireland partner.
Garry: Hello, Terry. Terry: Morning Garry. Garry: You're looking very well and welcome to my bar. Terry: Thank you Garry. It's great to be at your bar, looks delightful, and it's good to know the sun is over the yardarm somewhere. Garry: That's the truth. We're in interesting times. How are you getting on? Terry: We're getting along fine. We went into quarantine situation here starting Monday of this week. So my wife and I are home with the animals, trying to hunker down and be safe. Garry: And where is home? Terry: For me to be home is a beautiful thing. I typically would have travelled a quarter million miles by now and I haven't left the house since December. So, I don't have to put a name tag on anymore. Where is home? Home is in Charlotte, North Carolina in the United States of America. East coast, south east coast, it’s 65-degrees, the pollen is so thick you could plough it with a snow plough and we're in the thick of Spring, so it's beautiful. Garry: Okay. With regard to your biggest challenge so far, I mean, obviously you've anticipated that you were going to have to quarantine but there's a lot of people going through that first wave of challenge psychologically or other. How have you found it? Terry: Well, it's been, as you were asking that question I was thinking, there's so many different levels to that. The challenge for us, and for you and I, we are in the mission critical business. Period. Everything we do is mission critical. So all of our clients, all of our employees, everything we think and do, are how you avoid problems and risk, and minimise risk, and mitigate risk. So it's certainly been terribly challenging. We're working, flat-out. We're working flat-out and that's rewarding because those who can work stand a better chance, and I'm just being frank. So, we're trying to keep our people busy and that's becoming more and more challenging globally every day. Garry: So you obviously mixed what the biggest challenge was, was also the positive, in that the industry, that you have helped to build for the past 15 years, if not more, is now holding up what is the new norm globally… Infrastructure. Terry: I'm always an optimist as you know, but I think that there are learning experiences vertically up and down in every industry in the world and people are rethinking about how they're going to do business in the future. For folks like ourselves that work in the data center industry, we've already seen the dramatic, drastic increase in capacity demand, subscription demand, cloud services, video services. Take a walk? The roof is blowing off. We were in a 15% growth industry prior to this virus. As you and I have talked recently, we're seeing though, subscription. We're still going to have to satisfy the capacity that we were working on when this hit and then the demand for additional capacity at the end of this, is going to be extraordinary. Garry: Yes, it's extraordinary, and probably just as you're speaking, I thought of something that an astronaut once said, about being an astronaut And he said…. “We train for failure” and when he stood up and said it, it takes you a little while to compute. He was training, for every month on the ground, was an hour in the air or something, all the repetitive training was what to do when it goes wrong. And in many respects, that's what data centre guys have been doing for so long is designing, building, operating an infrastructure that they knew were mission-critical. But often the people that were using it didn't. It's probably like a long-term marriage, we get complacent, right? Terry: Yeah, we've grown comfortable with our abilities to mitigate issues, both human and equipment related, in mission critical facilities. Because we're so good at it, I'm not talking about Primary Integration, I'm talking about our industry, at the tier 3, tier 4 level, we were actually prepared for this from an operations standpoint, there were always contingencies in place. What if we had a hurricane? What if we had a snowstorm? What if? We were prepared for all those things. So you added different man power and shifts but from a construction perspective, it is becoming very challenging now. As you know, our clients don't stop. Our clients don't stop. Our industry is, my company is, running flat out right now, every one of my clients, all my hyperscale guys, can't build Data Centre capacity fast enough and that was before we had this Covid-19 incident. Garry: It's very interesting and that's one of the realisations. As you know, I';m interviewing you here from Ireland and the digital factories, as we've called them, they’re still operating a full-tilt, if not up to 700% more capacity, but that till is still ringing for Ireland Inc. that generating of Revenue and the products and the software as a service whereas all the other factories unfortunately, due to the social isolation, are closed. So all these things, solidify back to probably the people that we've constantly, you and I, and the rest of us, try to get inside the head of, the policymakers, the fiscal people, of our nation's to realise that this is the oxygen of the digital world and there isn't a separate economy to the digital economy.So I think ultimately, it's like a lot of things, isn't it Terry, if you want to really know what it's like to have a broken arm, you’d better have broken your arm. Terry: That's correct. And the bright spot, it’s interesting. So as I look at my world, because we meet every day and we talk about North America, South America, we talk about what's happening. The bright spot in my global portfolio is Ireland because you have the hyperscale guys and they're all very active. I was thinking about Ireland the other day, where my biggest it challenge is labour mobility. So just take it aside whether people should, or should not travel, that's a different discussion, or go to work every day. The bright spot for Primary integration, or Bureau Veritas Primary Integration, is that Ireland has huge data centre demand and it's active now. So I know that in my rest of the world when this ends, my guys are going to hit. I mean, we’re busy in Ireland. you guys are going to be in great shape and the first people that heal. Garry: So have you learnt anything about yourself? Good or bad. Or have you gotten to know your farm animals, or your wife. Over the last number of weeks, have you learnt anything positive? We don't read manuals anymore you and I. Terry: Listen there are many positive things and you learn from your people. To me, probably the greatest learning lesson has, or one of the greatest things that I've seen that’s pleased me, is how willing people are to help other people, at the grassroots level, not at the political level, but at the grassroots level…how to get things done. So for me, I live in a very small rural community, like yourself, so my goals everyday are, I'm more cognisant, or more conscious, of people that live paycheck to paycheck and people that work in the labour pools, that serve our restaurants, our resorts, our stores are local. So one of the things for me, and I will always remember now, is to stay with the local guy, You know a lot of us chain, tend to go to the big chains and I've been consciously trying to support our local folks in our local vendors and try and help our immediate community. I think that's one of the things. This is the first time I've ever spent three months at home, without traveling, in 15 years. So it's extraordinary for me. It's extraordinary to be home every day. Garry: As always, you and I could probably talk for another 15 hours and still have other stuff to talk about. Three words, Terry, close it out. Three words to close out the session. Terry: All right. Garry: Oh, you wrote it down? Terry ’Please smile everyday’. Please smile every day. I would have said four words which would be ‘please try to smile everyday’. My original sign, which my wife thought was pretty funny, said ‘Give a hug’ She goes “I don';t know if that's so appropriate with social distancing” Garry: Right now its not but it will find its day again. Terry Gillick, President of BV Primary Integration, as always, you're a wonderful person and a great guy to spend a few minutes with. Thank you so much. Terry: Garry I so much enjoyed our conversation, please be safe and thank you so much for your time and you guys, all you guys in Ireland, we love you from over here and we miss you. So be safe and will be see you soon. Garry: Likewise.
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