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Apto Meet the Team Series #3

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  • Apto Meet the Team Series #3

Meet Roger Gough, Chief Development Officer at Apto: Championing growth and innovation in the data centre industry

This is the third in a series of articles introducing you to the Apto Leadership Team.

Roger joins from Amazon Web Services (AWS) where he led EMEA Construction for nine years. Over this time he had oversight of 200 professionals to expand AWS footprint and deliver hyperscale data centres across 10 countries, including new markets. In his last year at AWS, his team delivered over 100MW in DC capacity with €1 billion+ annual capex budget. Roger previously built bespoke enterprise data centres at Digital Realty in APAC.

His extensive experience, coupled with his commitment to safety and sustainability, makes him a key player in Apto’s mission to meet the needs of our customers. Here, Roger shares his perspectives on Apto’s exciting journey ahead.

From AWS to Apto: Shaping a vision

With close to a decade of expanding AWS footprint across Europe, how has your experience shaped your outlook and approach for this new venture?

Roger: Given the significant scale of operations at AWS, my time with the firm was quite an eye-opener. It gave me hands-on experience in what it takes to break ground in new markets. Managing complex expansions within tight timelines, along with the various challenges they present, proved to be an incredibly enlightening experience.

Among other things, I learned how to tackle permitting issues, navigate diverse environmental regulations and orchestrate a critical supply chain. More than anything, it underscored the importance of understanding customer needs and pushing boundaries to exceed their expectations. There’s no doubt that this has prepared me for the exciting opportunities ahead at Apto.

Industry evolution and customer priorities

What are the most significant changes you’re witnessing in the industry, and how do they impact customer priorities?

Roger: Sustainability has been the most prominent driver in recent years. The European Union is pushing various directives, including Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE), water usage and carbon footprint. It is now a top priority for our customers and investors, who demand environmentally responsible solutions.

We’re also navigating the Article 8 Taxonomy regulations, which focus on sustainability metrics. As part of our sustainability goals, we aim to be ISO-certified, which means adhering to energy efficient practices and sustainable design. Each country has different environmental requirements, but our goal is to design and build the most energy efficient and sustainable data centres possible to align with these evolving norms.

Design, construction and operational priorities

What are the top design, construction and operational priorities of your customers?

Roger: Let’s take these in turn.

Design: In terms of design, sustainability takes precedence. Customers are increasingly focused on PUE and look for energy efficient facilities that don’t heavily rely on water cooling. We aim to utilise outside air cooling as much as possible to reduce water usage. We also aim to use sustainable materials where possible, such as electric arc furnace steel and recycled concrete.

Ensuring resilience and redundancy in the MEP systems remains a top priority. The implementation of systems resistant to single points of failure is imperative, while optimal use of available power resources is also crucial.

Construction: In construction, timely delivery is paramount. Customers rightfully expect us to adhere to our schedules and complete projects as promised. Key considerations include modularisation, constructability and sustainability. We must build without causing disruptions to existing operations or future phases.

Safety is fundamental at Apto, we believe in building safely or not at all. We prioritise safety from the design phase, ensuring that our facilities are constructed and operated with the utmost safety in mind. This involves designing with accessibility and maintainability, including critical elements like postdoc connections.

Operations: When it comes to operations, ensuring the safety of those managing the data centres is essential. Proper documentation, labelling and training are crucial. The emphasis on maintainability is paramount to ensure smooth ongoing operations, with a particular focus on accessible electrical infrastructure.

A promise is a promise

How will you deliver on the Apto promise?

Roger: Our approach is straightforward—build what we promise, when we promise it, at the cost we commit to. This hinges on forging strong partnerships with our customers, thoroughly understanding their needs, and marrying that with our expertise in discerning the possible from the impossible.

Securing the right sites is pivotal. Our partnership with PIMCO gives us access to off-market properties aligned with customer demand and equipped with the necessary power infrastructure. Overcoming permitting challenges is a significant aspect of securing these sites.

Working in tandem with our trusted network of partners, the Apto team combines this knowledge with a deep understanding of data centre design and construction. This allows us to build according to a robust schedule that takes into account all the intricacies of permitting.

Through this collaborative approach, we secure viable sites conducive to expedited data centre construction, ensuring we deliver on our word.

Energised about the future

What excites you most about the coming months?

Roger: The startup energy here is truly fantastic and I’m so pleased to be part of this exciting inception phase! While we’re just getting started, yet we’re seeing a significant surge in customer engagement and prospective site opportunities. We’re gearing up to venture into new locations, finalising our designs and locking down some key metros. There are a lot of exciting developments in the works and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.

Why join the Apto journey

You’re building a team. What would you say to potential candidates eyeing roles at Apto?

Roger: Joining Apto at this stage is a golden opportunity. We’re a startup with substantial backing, crafting something unique. The senior team brings in a ton of expertise, and the work environment is pretty awesome. You’ll get to wear many hats, work alongside industry experts in various domains and contribute meaningfully to Apto’s growth story. It’s exciting, rewarding and definitely worth considering!

Stay tuned for more insights from the visionary minds shaping Apto’s future in the data centre landscape. As Roger Gough and the team embark on this journey, their unwavering commitment to innovation, sustainability and operational excellence is set to propel Apto towards success.

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