Leaders in driving ESG, growth and community relations

Leaders in driving ESG, growth and community relations

STACK’s EMEA leadership team explores its growth over the last 18 months and how it’s hyper-focused on sustainability and creating positive relationships

Delivering growth while maintaining a positive environmental and social impact is at the heart of STACK Infrastructure’s operations. As a leading global developer and operator of data centres, STACK provides digital infrastructure to scale the world’s most innovative companies. It’s acutely focused on doing so in an environmentally and socially positive way, through measures such as powering all facilities with 100% renewables, piloting innovative projects like heat reuse, and engaging relevantly with local communities.

This is embodied by STACK’s EMEA Vice President of ESG, Michillay Brown. Proudly South African born and raised, she is motivated by the beauty and complexity of her homeland to drive change and make a real, positive impact.

“Data centres are the foundations of the global digital landscape and building critical infrastructure with respect for our planet and its people is essential,” she says “Sustainability strategies that deliver tangible results is something I'm incredibly passionate about.”

Encouraging and inspiring the data centre workforce of the future

Reducing carbon footprints, circularity principles and delivering benefits to communities is what drew Brown to the data centre industry and especially to STACK following a career in mining.

Amy Daniell, STACK’s Senior Vice President of Strategy and Development in EMEA, shares how the industry has evolved at an exponential rate over the last 15 years, and that the scale of STACK’s projects never ceases to amaze her. Amid the growth, the company’s focus on sustainability and its workforce is also moving forward at pace. 

“Eight to 10 years ago, a big data centre in Europe was five or six megawatts,” Daniell explains. “Now, it’s more like 50 or 60 megawatts. It's a very different scale. The key evolution is that we are reaching a talent saturation point in our industry, and we’re having to look to other industries for new talent.”

Daniell, who studied law and worked in construction before entering the data centre space, works closely with local schools to encourage young people from all backgrounds to consider careers in data centres and STEM subjects. But Daniell doesn’t work alone to shape the workforce of the future; across EMEA, STACK runs several local education programs with a range of benefits for students, from learning about and interacting with data centres, to internships and apprenticeships. 

Though STACK operates in three distinct regions – Americas, EMEA and APAC – John Eland, the Chief Executive Officer of the EMEA business, explains that client focus, speed, agility and excellence in delivery unite STACK worldwide.

“We want to ensure that STACK resonates with people, both inside and outside the industry, for the right reasons,” Eland shares. “Our ESG and DE&I programs are pivotal to ensuring that we not only strive to deliver excellence in data centre development and operations, but we also provide a welcoming and thriving work environment for our people along with developing strong connections with the communities in which we operate.”

Giving back to communities STACK serves

What STACK is cognisant of, Brown highlights, is that operating around EMEA presents its own challenges when it comes to ESG and delivery, with local laws, boundaries and obligations varying from location to location. STACK’s approach to ESG is global at its core, but flexible so that when implemented at a local level it serves the needs of communities.

“We unlock so much value when our global regions are collaborating and sharing best practices with different yet regionally relevant initiatives,” Brown explains. 

STACK has implemented a number of progressive ESG initiatives on a local level, such as heat reuse solutions and rainwater harvesting. One of its most pioneering projects is in Oslo, Norway, where heat from STACK’s data centre is reused to warm up to 5,000 city homes. Brown adds: “STACK is also factoring in local biodiversity as part of our basis of design. This means looking to incorporate low-maintenance green facades which cover the building with native species of vegetation. It's very attractive for the aesthetics of an industrial area and attracts wildlife as well. Conservation efforts with campus beehives is another initiative we’re particularly proud of.”

In 2024, STACK will launch its new global ESG framework and commitments, bringing a holistic approach to ESG across all areas of STACK worldwide.

United through solving complicated problems with people of different backgrounds

Eland is a firm believer that STACK’s success and continued growth EMEA-wide is well supported by its strong dynamic culture and diverse workforce, with more than 30 nationalities represented in this region of STACK alone.

“STACK is present in 23 markets and counting,” he says. “And of course there are logistical considerations that come with adding new markets, new regulations and new members of the workforce. We’ve been driving harmonisation while remaining highly focused on growth and maintaining that strong growth trajectory,” he adds. “Over the last 18 months we've been focused on integrating three legacy regional businesses and have successfully brought it all together. We're one STACK organisation in EMEA, one team, applying STACK’s global delivery principles to serve as a trusted partner to our clients.”

Partners with common values central to STACK

And although STACK is in a strong position to make positive change and significantly grow, it can’t do this on its own.

“Partnerships are at the forefront of our business practice. We want to develop long-term relationships which are key to consistency and sustained success,” explains Daniell. “So to continue to deliver at pace and serve as a partner to our own clients, building strong relationships with our supply chain is essential,” Daniell stresses. “Trust is key. It’s a matter of building a strong supply chain and collaborating with them to achieve our goals of delivering excellence in service, on time and on budget, sustainably.” 

Daniell details how STACK’s partner companies are carefully selected. Shared core values, including the sustainable sourcing of raw materials, is non-negotiable. She admits that while many of STACK's valued partnerships are already established, the company continues to seek alliances with those who also put sustainability and respect for the planet at the heart of their offering.

“We’re looking at all of their processes because they're part of our value chain,” she adds. “We’re making sure that once our buildings are fully operational, we've worked diligently to understand the origin of every single component. The organisations we collaborate with share our sustainability principles and want to achieve the same goals. We all want to be on the same journey."

A phase of hypergrowth

The term ‘sustainable future’ has more than one definition for Eland - to him, it applies to both the planet and the business.

“Our entire industry is in a phase of hypergrowth. We were already experiencing a phase of strong growth driven by core compute requirements, but with the advent of AI – particularly over the last year – there are larger-scale demand requirements coming to market that show no signs of slowing,” he details.

Eland sees the next 12 to 18 months focused on ensuring STACK’s growth trajectory in EMEA continues to match that of its hyperscale clients, ensuring successful and safe delivery.

“We see no evidence of these requirements diminishing. We are ensuring that we are well-placed, well-served and properly structured to support them as they arrive.”

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