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CIO as a storyteller

Teresa Leung, Computerworld Hong Kong | Oct. 16, 2012
Brian Lillie, CIO of Equinix, said he aims to turn people directly reporting to him into CIOs in a recent interview with Computerworld Hong Kong.

Brian Lillie, CIO of Equinix, said he aims to turn people directly reporting to him into CIOs in a recent interview with Computerworld Hong Kong.

CWHK: Tell us about your professional background--what did you do before joining Equinix in 2008?

Brian Lillie: My first job was an US Air Force officer after I finished an undergraduate degree in math. In the Air Force, officers are trained to be generalists and moved around every three to four years for different assignments. At one point, I was commander at the communications squatter, so I did a part-time masters degree in telecoms management to understand what I was managing.

In the mid-90s where the Internet started to take off, I left the Air Force and joined Silicon Graphics --the darling of Silicon Valley at that time--as a senior manager of networks. Then I moved to Verisign where I was in different technical roles including VP of IT. I left the firm for a year to attend Stanford Business School. After that I returned to the firm and took up business roles. My last role at Verisign was head of global sales operation. Altogether I have been in IT for about 16 years.

CWHK: How is work different in a datacenter company?

BL: I don't think Equinix is necessarily a datacenter company. It's a company providing critical services to CIOs. I am fortunate to be in a firm that has a world-class datacenter and network choices that I never had before. At Equinix, 'we drink our own champagne' as we build app portfolio for our own and customers' use.

At Silicon Graphics or Verisign, you had no choice but to beg carriers to come in, get them to populate your datacenters, and sign long-terms contracts with them.

CWHK: How big is your team at Equinix? How are tech pros in Asia different from their counterparts in the US?

BL: There are about 180 people in the global IT team. Besides 'classical IT', my team's responsibilities include software development and engineering for customer-facing products, and helping customers architect their networks, applications, and datacenters.

When it comes to Asian tech pros, I want to avoid generalization. Tech pros across all regions in Equinix focus on customers and operations excellence--they're also passionate about our own projects and those of customers. Asian IT pros sometimes are more thoughtful, as well as data- and process-driven. They are also fast decision makers, with a gut-like reaction. I have a development team in Singapore and another in Silicon Valley. This combination is amazing, bringing discipline and creatively together.

CWHK: Do you report to the CFO or the CEO? How do you manage your relationship with the CFO?


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