As our growth journey continues, the Asia-Pacific market marks the fastest growing region for Equinix. With 50+ International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data center across key regional metros, we continue to empower our customers and partners in their digital transformation journeys. Our success has been down to the top-notch talent that continue to join our team, bringing new ideas, experiences, and innovations to shape the future of digital.
David Bate joined Equinix in June 2022 as our new Senior Vice President of Sales in Asia-Pacific. In this “Getting to Know” session, I sat down with David to discuss the evolution of his career in technology, his vast experience in different regions that has helped shape his leadership style today, and his visions for Equinix going forward.
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Jeremy Deutsch (JD); David Bate (DB)
JD: You have three decades of rich experience in sales and operational leadership prior to joining Equinix. How has your previous experience prepared you for this role?
DB: I have had the privilege of working in Asia-Pacific leadership roles for the past 25+ years, including in New Zealand, Australia, Japan and Singapore (three times). Over this time, I have had a wide variety of experiences in sales, sales leadership, large deal management, partner and channel management, business development and operations. In each of these experiences, I have learned new things from the people I have worked with and the customers I have helped create value for.
In my two most recent experiences at IBM and VMware, I had the opportunity to lead transformational initiatives. At IBM, I led the transition from a traditional, on-premises middleware software business to a hybrid cloud, subscription-based software business. I joined VMware after IBM and led the team to launch the VMware cloud business in APAC. Very much like my experience at IBM, this also involved taking the traditional VMware virtualization software business from on-premises to one that is subscription-based, SaaS and in the cloud. It also involved working with hyperscalers and managed services partners to help our customers accelerate innovation, increase business agility, reduce costs and launch new services by moving to the cloud.
Equinix’s success story closely mirrors mine, transitioning and expanding from providing colocation and interconnection services purely to offering all-encompassing digital services and infrastructure. I’m excited to bring my experiences to continue Equinix’s success in this next chapter.
JD: What have been some of the defining moments of your career so far?
DB: I view a career as a series of small, micro-moments that build on day-to-day successes and then larger moments that act as branching points to define new directions.
Looking back, the first of these branching moments for me was when I moved from Telecom New Zealand, my first employer after completing my engineering degree, to IBM. I remember this being a very deliberate decision based on the desire to move from designing networks and carriage services to delivering business-level outcomes for customers.
The next significant branching point came when I was invited to take on a role working for IBM Japan for what was supposed to be five quarters to stabilize the IBM Japan middleware business and also groom a successor. Having completed that task, I was asked to stay in Japan for another four years to run business operations for the IBM Japan software business.
Acting as a bridge between the Japanese branch and headquarters, I had various responsibilities including, market segmentation, headcount deployment, pricing and many others, which became wonderful learning experiences for me. The following two branching points were what I’ve previously mentioned—leading transformational shifts at IBM and VMware.
JD: It seems like your career has brought you across various regions in Asia-Pacific. What are some of the unique lessons/stories you’ve learned so far?
DB: We are blessed to work in such a wonderfully diverse region as Asia-Pacific. Whether it is diversity from the perspectives of culture and language or geography, business maturity and technology adoption—no other territory has the variety that we have. It’s what makes what we do, serving a wide variety of customers and perspectives every day, so rewarding and stimulating.
Although this was already obvious to me, this appreciation was reinforced when I had 12 months of leave between leaving IBM and joining VMware. While I thoroughly enjoyed the freedoms that my leave provided me during the first three months, I was itching to ‘get back into the game’ by the mid-point. My year-long break taught me just how much I love what we do professionally and how much I appreciate the thrill of working with committed, passionate, hardworking teammates and customers every day.
JD: Would you say your leadership style adapted or changed in any way during your career? How would you describe your leadership style now?
DB: Every day we have new experiences and learn new things, and I believe these learnings shape our careers and further evolve our approach to leadership. This has included being led and mentored by people who continue to be my reference point, and I strive to emulate those aspects of their leadership styles that I connect with most strongly.
Over the years, here are a few takeaways I observed in these leaders:
- Demonstrate high levels of personal integrity and respect for the people they lead and the wider community.
- Being inclusive, tolerant and open in how they interact with others. This extends to being willing to listen to and respond positively to feedback.
- Embrace servant leadership as a philosophy and way to encourage those they lead to show up, wanting to deliver to the very best of their abilities.
- Focus externally and put customers at the center of decision-making.
In a recent conversation with a member of my former leadership team, they described me as having a “people-centric, inclusive leadership style”. I was flattered by these comments because if I were asked to describe how I would like to be seen as a leader, these are words that I would choose to include.
It’s also great that the observations I have taken away over the years align closely with Equinix’s commitments to its employees. Equinix has built an award-winning culture on principles that every employee should feel that they are safe, belong and matter, and I’m thrilled to support these principles in my leadership.
JD: The latest edition of Equinix’s GTTS revealed that IT leaders in Asia-Pacific are optimistic about their growth. How do you see Equinix’s role in supporting these organizations?
DB: Our customers are facing unprecedented disruption to their business models, clients and supply chains. But at the same time, they now also have infinite opportunities to explore new markets, accelerate the pace of innovation and achieve ever greater efficiencies. With our ecosystem of interconnected partners and suite of digital services, Equinix is uniquely positioned to help our customers transform, move more quickly and bring new, differentiated services to market ahead of their competitors.
To successfully meet our customers where they are on their transformational journeys, we need to adapt and change how we engage with them. I believe while maintaining our relationships with the traditional infrastructure owners is important, we also need to develop new relationships with new personas, including people like Line of Business and Applications Owners, the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), and the Chief Digital Officer (CDO).
We must also adapt our language and value proposition to engage with these new personas, moving away from a conversation about power and space to ideas that include speed to market, time to value, the total cost of operation and application life cycles. The typical CMO today is unlikely to be interested in how many cabinets or kVA are going into a data center in support of a new product launch!
JD: Can you share some of your upcoming priorities for the Asia-Pacific region?
DB: My first priority is to listen and learn about our business and team in Asia-Pacific. While I have spent the past 10+ years working with customers leveraging cloud platforms to transform and do new things, Equinix occupies a unique market and uses specific vocabulary—something I am working to understand as quickly as possible!
Otherwise, my other priorities include sustaining our existing business to deliver strong Q3 and Q4 outcomes while, at the same time, building a pipeline of opportunities for the first half of next year.
You’d also be surprised at how many organizations are still working in siloed traditional functions. Hence, another priority is to continue to raise awareness, nurture and accelerate customer adoption of digital services. This includes working closely with our sales teams, sales leaders and partners to enable our competencies and confidence in having new conversations with new personas and new customers about how Equinix accelerates transformational journeys.
JD: Rounding off with our last question, tell us a fun fact about yourself that we don’t already know.
DB: Although my family and I love living in Singapore and all the experiences that go with it, my haven is our 25-acre olive grove in Hawkes Bay, one of the wine-growing regions in New Zealand.
Our grove produces 30 tons of fruit/5000 liters of delicious, cold pressed extra virgin olive oil annually. You could say I spent my ‘gardening leave’ literally gardening. The fun part is that Audi New Zealand filmed an advertisement on our property to launch their new RS4 car during this time—and I starred in the ad!