Interview With 2023 DCW Keynote Speaker Chris Crosby

Ahead of his keynote presentation at Data Center World 2023, Chris Crosby, CEO of Compass Datacenters, talks with AFCOM's Jordan Sutlive about the current state and future of the data center industry.

Jordan Sutlive, Content Manager, Data Center Programs

April 27, 2023

3 Min Read
Photo of attendee at the Data Center World 2022 conference and exhibition.
Data Center World

“So you’ve heard of Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions, right?” Chris Crosby, CEO of Compass Data Centers, asked me towards the end of our chat. “We coined a phrase a while back, actually — it’s Scope 4. Scope 4 is what you avoid.”

Crosby’s attempt to re-categorize emissions here — including his coining of a key phrase, “Scope 4 emissions,” which has steadily gained traction throughout the industry at large — underlines his continued efforts to ensure sustainability (yet another buzzword that’s since become an industry-wide mandate) is at the forefront of every data center operator’s mind. His company, which offers to construct data centers with sustainable technologies such as reflective roofing, CarbonCure™ manufactured concrete, and water-free designs, proudly claims that one of its express purposes is to “design and build our data centers with the expressed goal of preserving the environment.”

Chris Crosby Headshot


In his upcoming keynote speech at Data Center World, Crosby is poised to enable data center leaders across the nation to similarly emphasize sustainability in their construction practices and daily operations. With a bold vision regarding the future of sustainability, Crosby will provide expert insights not only on how to enhance your de-carbonization efforts, but also on the non-carbonization principles of those risky yet avoidable Scope 4 emissions.

Related:Data Center World 2023 Keynotes: What to Expect

AFCOM: How would you describe the current state of the talent gap that has impacted the data center industry? What steps can data centers take now to mitigate this labor crunch?

Chris Crosby: I think there's a couple of elements to it. There's the sheer quantity of folks at the bottom that are necessary at the technician level, construction level, operations level, and network level. And then there's obviously also an aging out at the top, as it relates to folks like myself that have been in the space for some time. So you have to take it from a two-pronged approach. I think on the bottom level, you've got to stop looking for experience and start to design processes and systems that let inexperienced people understand them and enable them to be productive. At Compass, we view that as a really important element, where we can be a feeder system for the industry, and we can do very prescriptive elements with people who aren't necessarily qualified. Day one, you should get them the qualifications, get them the experience that's there, and in order to do that, you have to develop those types of programs. That's the first step.

The second step is, from the top down, how do you bring others into this space? Well, education is a big part of it. We've been part of a master's program at SMU to get people experienced with things from a data center systems perspective, but also just getting exposure to our space. Frankly, we as an industry don't do the best job of promoting our space. We run basically most of the economy, and yet data centers get a bad reputation out there versus what we actually contribute to society. I think we need to get a lot better as an organization and as a group just in self-promotion about the good that we do out there in order to attract the talent we need, because we would benefit heavily from talent from other industries.

Related:Exclusive: DCW Keynote Interview With Rebecca Weekly of Cloudflare

Read the rest of the interview with Chris Crosby in AFCOM's Five Data Points.

About the Author(s)

Jordan Sutlive

Content Manager, Data Center Programs, Informa

Based in Richmond, VA.

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