Getting to Know our Asia-Pacific Leader – Desmond Chen

Jeremy Deutsch
Desmond Chen
Getting to Know our Asia-Pacific Leader – Desmond Chen

On the Chinese zodiac calendar, 2022 marks the Year of the Tiger. And as we look to the future of our business in China, the confident and adventurous spirit of the tiger reflects in our approach to success. Our ambitions continue to grow as we work to meet the market’s opportunity with agility, and strengthen the value we bring to our customers in their transformation journeys.

At the start of the year, I talked to Desmond Chen, our new Managing Director of China, on the evolution of the technology landscape in the market and his customer-centric approach to driving success.

Jeremy Deutsch (JD); Desmond Chen (DC)

JD: First up, can you tell us more about your background? How do you think your experience as a sales leader helped you understand our customers’ needs in this new role?

DC: I’ve spent 25 years in customer-facing roles, primarily in sales and management positions in telco, ICT, and data center businesses. My experience of being a sales professional and leading a sales team led me to where I am today. I’ve built a customer-centered mindset throughout my career, strengthened my interpersonal communication skills, and improved customer empathy.

My industry background has helped me better understand customer requirements. I can work with my team to provide suitable solutions that solve their business problems and deliver value that exceeds their expectations.

Leveraging my industry knowledge and sales experiences, I look forward to introducing Platform Equinix® and our versatile product portfolio to address our customers’ needs in and from the Chinese market.

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JD: China is a unique market, so what do you think about its data center landscape? Are you seeing emerging opportunities for Equinix in China?

­DC: The short answer is yes, and I believe the data speaks for itself. Currently, China is the 2nd largest economy, and its data center market is also ranked 2nd globally. The domestic market is mainly divided into two categories: carrier-operated and carrier-neutral. Equinix belongs to the latter, which is a fast-growing sector in China. Even back in 2019, carrier-neutral data centers accounted for 37% of the total market and were forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 32% over 2019-24 to reach RMB 75 billion by 2024. More importantly, in 2020, the Chinese Government announced that data centers were one of the seven categories of “new infrastructure” that would be a key focus and developed to support the domestic tech industry. All of this presents a massive business potential for Equinix in China.

Meanwhile, we are also observing a trend of Chinese companies accelerating their global journeys. We’ve been successful in helping Chinese companies expand into new overseas markets, quickly localizing their infrastructure, and securely and seamlessly connecting with thousands of service providers and enterprises through our robust ecosystems. With our global platform, they have fast-tracked their digital advantages for the past several years. As their international businesses continue to flourish, we expect more opportunities, and we will continue to evolve our offerings and services to facilitate their business needs.

JD: 5G, autonomous driving, and e-gaming–if you were to pick one, which would you think would be the most prevalent trend in the coming years in China?

DC: I would say 5G is the future, but it’s difficult to just choose one as they are all important and connected. With its ultra-fast speed, 5G is taking connectivity to the next level. It serves as a backbone to enable advancements in autonomous driving and e-gaming, along with many other emerging technologies. It will offer a huge boost to many in those industries and will also become a crucial driving force for data centers.

With businesses having an increasingly higher requirement for seamless digital experiences, Equinix is set to empower digital leaders by bringing together and interconnecting the infrastructure to move fast, get to the market first and pivot quickly when market conditions change.

Our data centers play a critical role in the rollout of 5G services across regions. Using ecosystem-rich data centers found on Platform Equinix, we have fostered the ideal infrastructure for telecommunication carriers to increase interconnection between counterparts. In China, we’re partnered and connected to all major domestic providers, including China Telecom, China Unicom, and China Mobile, plus the primary VPN providers.

JD: As we begin a new year, can you tell us your aspirations for 2022?

DC: Every year, I have a wish list of professional and personal targets. In most cases, there aren’t any overlaps. But for 2022, one of my aspirations is international travel! As far as work, my last business trip was Connect in January 2020.

Personally, I’m really looking forward to connecting with my regional and global colleagues, peers, and friends again face-to-face in the new year. My family also can’t wait any longer to travel and get on a plane to explore Europe again since our last summer holiday in 2019.

Professionally, 2022 holds a lot in store for Equinix. Last year, we expanded our Equinix Fabric™ ecosystem in Hong Kong with the addition of four leading network service providers (NSPs) in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan to deliver connectivity into Greater China. This year we aspire to help more Chinese companies go global or expand their overseas business through our global digital infrastructure. We will continue to bring secure, on-demand, easy, and low-cost connectivity for all our customers and push the boundaries of innovation.

JD: We have just added 575 cabinets in the SH6 Phase 2 expansion in the second half of 2021. Can you tell us a bit about the plans for the China market?

DC: SH6 is the latest International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) we opened in 2019 with our JV partner–Datang Gaohong. Located in the Pudong Free-Trade Zone, the SH6 IBX is our largest facility in Shanghai and serves as a hub for the trading and financial services sectors. The newly added capacity aligns with our roadmap to scale the core business in China as well as our commitment to our customers, allowing Equinix to be their trusted partner in this rapidly growing market. Stay tuned as we continue to expand our presence in the market in the future!

Another key focus will be supporting the expansion of Chinese companies to overseas markets through our global footprint. Via Platform Equinix, Chinese companies can accelerate their growth on a single platform to offer direct interconnection–within a vibrant set of ecosystems–to their customers and strategic business partners across the globe. And our digital services offering will make this journey much easier and faster.

JD: How would you describe your leadership style?

DC: Rather than calling myself a leader, I would describe myself as an inclusive team player who supports team success, a business driver who values challenges and carries momentum, and a guardian for our incredible culture at Equinix. As a true believer of The Magic of Equinix, I like to take every chance to serve as an ambassador, both internally and externally, promoting the Equinix brand, products, culture, and values across the region. I’ve been working with the team since 2013 and together we’ve been able to achieve so much innovation and growth. It truly has been an amazing experience.

JD: Last question, tell us something about yourself that we don’t already know.

DC: My major is Economics, which might not seem related to my experience in IT, telco, and data centers. I still recall my experience with Intel’s Shanghai factory where I spent 6 months as an on-site project supervisor when my formal job was to be the account manager for them.

That experience from 20 years ago taught me the value of spending more time with customers, learning from them and understanding their business in order to find the right solution to meet their needs. This insight guides my work even today and I continue to encourage my team to cultivate similar relationships with customers.

Fast-track your digital journey with Equinix China

I hope this interview with Desmond has provided more insights into our story in China. I look forward to working with him to help our local customers expand globally in the coming years.

Do you want to know more about the interconnection landscape in China and seize emerging opportunities? Learn more about the latest trends to watch out for in 2022 and how Equinix can help you capitalize on emerging markets, connecting businesses directly with digital supply chains in China, and the world.

Our data centers play a critical role in the rollout of 5G services across regions. Using ecosystem-rich data centers found on Platform Equinix, we have fostered the ideal infrastructure for telecommunication carriers to increase interconnection between counterparts.
Jeremy Deutsch
Jeremy Deutsch President - Asia Pacific at Equinix
Desmond Chen
Desmond Chen Managing Director, China