This is the next blog in the continuing series of interviews with top-echelon and renowned professionals. In this blog, I interview Fabio Banducci, President and CEO, Peer 1 Hosting who shares his deep expertise.
Fabio Banducci joined PEER 1 Hosting as its Executive Vice President in October 2005, reporting to the Company's co-founder and then CEO, Lance Tracey. In September of 2006 Fabio was appointed President and in September of 2007 he became President, and Chief Executive Officer of the company and its subsidiaries.
Under Fabio's leadership, PEER 1 Hosting has emerged as one of the world's leading IT hosting providers as a result of an unrelenting focus on delivering an exceptional customer experience. During his tenure, PEER 1 Hosting has consistently grown profitably, expanded domestically and internationally and received numerous corporate awards.
Prior to joining PEER 1 Hosting, Fabio spent 12 years with a Canadian investment banking firm where he served as a member of the executive committee and board of directors and was responsible for all banking activities at the firm.
Fabio holds a Bachelor of Applied Science degree from the University of British Columbia and an MBA from McGill University. He is also a CFA Charterholder. Fabio lives in Vancouver, British Columbia with his wife and three children.
To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link
Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic
Fabio, can you profile your history prior to joining PEER 1 Hosting? Based upon your experiences in your prior roles, what lessons would be useful to the audience?
"....It's all about the team....Stay very focused against your business plan and objectives.....Welcome and embrace change....Hone your skills to seek first to understand before being understood...."
From your educational background, what specific items are most useful to you now as a leading executive?
"....It's changed over the course of time; earlier in my career I was drawing on more of my 'left-brain centric' skills, (the analytical rigorousness that comes from the engineering training, logic in general), and as I gained more management and leadership exposure and roles, it certainly has shifted to more skills that I learned through my MBA training, which tends to be more on the people side and the softer skills...."
Fabio profiles his prior and current roles with PEER 1 Hosting and talks about his goals.
"....Today my roles really center around managing relationships with our board of directors (we are a publicly listed company on the Toronto Stock Exchange)....I seek to continue to mentor, build and grow our team....I get involved with executive sponsorships....strategic partnerships....I also look after acquisitions on behalf of the company...."
What kind of attributes would make for a successful leader/candidate for PEER 1?
"....We are a value-based organization so we have an enterprising spirit about us. In addition, we are in the service industry and we have elected to position PEER 1 very much as a leading service company. From a leadership perspective we are looking for those who are in tight alignment with our values and within our culture, who have leadership experience and who take pride and are fulfilled by building teams and who put the customer first....in addition to the technical competence level...."
What are the major challenges facing the industry today and how can they be solved?
"....Particularly over the last seven to eight years, there has been an increase in the power densities of the servers that are deployed within our data centers as well as other data centers...."
What are the major opportunities facing the industry and how can they be leveraged?
"....I see the dependency on the internet continuing to accelerate and I think you will see all sorts of movement (whether it's software vendors moving their applications to a web-based form of application, continued e-commerce opportunities) and I think it is a tremendous opportunity for the industry....I think virtualization will play a role because it creates enhanced efficiencies in the types of deployment that hosting providers such as PEER 1 are able to offer to their customers...."
What are the best practices in the hosting industry?
"....An ability to support and scale your customer's deployment....An organization that can be responsive and has the technical expertise and domain knowledge to be able to proactively identify and resolve issues that surface in respect to the infrastructure....Data center infrastructure is also becoming increasingly important, particularly in light of the fact of the increasing power density of the servers that are being deployed....Network performance is another area...."
What are PEER 1 success stories and how do they translate into meaningful value?
"....PEER 1 Hosting was founded here in Vancouver in 1999 and from very, very humble beginnings has now emerged ten or eleven years later as one of the leading hosting providers in the world, targeting small and medium sized businesses...."
Fabio profiles PEER 1 Hosting's growth.
"....We are publicly listed, so all of our financial information is available through sedar.com....Our customers now deploy and provision our services through seventeen data centers that we operate primarily across North America, in addition to one data center we opened up last year in the UK. All of that data center infrastructure is connected together by what we refer to as the PEER 1 super network (high performance IP network) that we retain full control over...."
What value do you offer to SMEs?
"....We deliver peace of mind. When I think back to the reason why we exist, the reason for the success that we've enjoyed to date is because we've held true to our mission. Our mission is really to enable our customers to focus on the possibilities on the internet and not the problems...."
Can you define your net promoter score and why that is so important to you?
"....The net promoter score is an industry accepted measure that really is driving the question of how engaged and passionate your customer base is. It really comes down to asking a very straightforward question, 'How likely are you to refer (in this case, PEER 1 Hosting) to your friends?'.....so it makes it personal...."
Why should we care about your new data centre?
"....This new data center is located in the Greater Toronto area. It's the first new data center to come to market in that particular region in some time....We're offering co-location, managed hosting and dedicated hosting from under the same roof as this data center in Toronto....The response has been very favorable...."
What are your plans in terms of additional Performance-Optimized Data centers (POD)?
"....A few months ago we launched with POD A, with the announcement of Capgemini we've announced POD B, and we expect that this year we will commence construction of POD C, and there will be a total of four PODS available within the Toronto data center. We are also looking very actively at three other sites and locations and we are getting closer to identifying a more permanent home for our PEER 1 UK operation...."
What do you consider to be your top contributions?
".....In my role as President and CEO what I have found most fulfilling in the last five years is the opportunity to create an environment where very bright and passionate people can thrive. It really is all about the team and building an environment where the team can thrive...."
You've led this organization very successfully through change, so what are some of the best practices for leading change of that significance?
"....I find myself transitioning with what previously was more of an internal, tactical role (in order to provide the leadership and to build the team) and now I'm excited about the future because the team is firing on all cylinders and that enables us to consider a number of strategic opportunities. So my role has become more external in nature now....certainly compared to five years ago...."
In your prior roles, what were some of the most difficult challenges that you were not able to overcome at that time? What would you do differently now?
"....Fail faster....Always ensuring you have alignment around your strategy, the priorities that align with that strategy and the initiatives that align with those priorities...."
What are your top 5 lessons for effective leadership?
"....Be authentic....Trust your instincts....Fail faster....Run your own race....It's all about the team...."
Fabio comments on the specific innovations that have amazed him.
"....The first few weeks of the iPad, I characterized it as the Blackberry for middle-aged men...."
You choose the areas - provide your top predictions of future trends and their implications/opportunities?
"....I find the internet to be remarkably disruptive (in a good way)...."
Which are your top recommended resources and why?
"....Trusted advisors and mentors (networking)....TEC (Canada) and VISTAGE (US)...."
Fabio shares an interesting story from his work.
I have a unique opportunity to drill into the accumulated wisdom from an accomplished executive. If you could sum up your life experiences with career tips for the ICT professional, what would be your tips and the reasons behind them?
"....Stay true to yourself....Always enhance your customer's experience....Strive for excellence (seek constructive criticism, continue to exceed expectations, enable others to succeed)....Have fun...."
What are your thoughts on computing as a recognized profession like medicine and law, with demonstrated professional development, adherence to a code of ethics, and globally respected credentials? [Notes: see www.ipthree.org]
"....We already operate under a number of standards and I think that the IT profession in general is very professional. I certainly hold ourselves out as a professional organization and I hold out all of our 400 employees as professionals seeking to deliver and focus on the needs of our customers...."
If you were doing this interview, what questions would you ask and then what would be your answers?
"....'In terms of leadership, what do you find most fulfilling in your role as CEO?'...."