Justin Ellis, senior manager of network supplies specialist Comms Express, talks industry changes, what makes a successful data centre and the importance of sustainability.
What were you doing before you joined Comms Express and how did you first get involved in the industry?
I started my career in field sales, selling clothes and some of the cutting-edge technology at the time: records and tapes (yes, I’m that old!), as well as dabbling in water treatment and waste management. I got into the networking and structured cabling industry initially by making cat5e cables for my mates Steve and James, who are the founders and directors of Comms Express. Now I’m involved in a variety of aspects of the business in the realm of my passion for people, including sales, HR and facilities alongside furthering relationships with some of our branded manufactures.
What are the biggest changes you have seen in the data centre industry?
The shift towards data centre infrastructure management (DCIM) in the early part of this decade was the biggest change I have noticed in my 15-year career in the industry. While the drive to adopt DCIM was supported by a range of factors, I see the efficient use of power and support for heat density cooling technology that DCIM brings to data centres as a real game changer, building towards the longevity of data centres.
Its automated processes have changed the way IT departments use their staff time, something that’s valuable to me, and of course, the significant impact it has on a data centre’s all-important energy footprint.
In addition to earning a living, how else has your career created value in your life?
It has enabled me to work with my friends and together grow the business into what it is today. Steve and James have so much passion and know-how in the field of network cabling products, and we have played to our strengths, mine being sales and people. We weren’t to know how critical to the daily operations of any business networking technology and data would become, but it has been a rewarding experience to work towards a common goal together and see success.
How would you encourage a school leaver to get involved in your industry? What are their options?
If you’re passionate, hard-working and want to innovate the network and data hardware industry, come and work for Comms Express. Okay, if not that, find a company that invests in your growth and development, or even build your own and get a good group of people around you. I believe across any job, in any industry, the core of it all is always to aim to do more and maintain 110% focus in every endeavour.
What, in your opinion, is the most important aspect of a successful data centre?
While we want to keep up with the demands of data centres in a continually virtualised world, we also have a social responsibility to ensure this technology is developed, designed and operated in a way that enables us to consume as little energy as possible, and to use the energy we do in the most efficient way possible. To me, a successful data centre is about prioritising Green IT initiatives and seeking out the latest in hardware technology to work towards the sustainability of the environment and the industry.
What are the biggest pressures involved in your job?
Everyone would agree that this industry is a fast-paced one. New innovations are constantly being developed and it is our job to ensure we are supplying our customers with the best products available as soon as they enter the market. Personally, as I am involved in projects from HR to product development, I also need to ensure that with the speed of advancement, our employees are on board, sales techniques are updated and the various timescales involved in all these projects are delivered effectively.
What are your company’s aims for the next 12 months?
Comms Express’ culture and environment is what sets us apart from the rest. Our aims are to continue to enjoy strong growth by investing in more good people. We are true believers that if you invest in the right people and support your staff, good products, customer service and, in turn, company growth will follow.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Laziness. Unlike some components in a successful skill set like talent and education, being hard-working is something that anyone can achieve if they want to.
What are your hobbies/interests outside work?
I’m a family man, with two sons and a daughter, and I’m a keen Arsenal supporter. Even though I no longer sell them, I’m still an avid vinyl collector and lover of music. I also enjoy cycling, and I’d better not forget to mention my pets – I love my cats.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Always try harder.