Veterans & The Data Center Industry with Kirk Offel, CEO of OVERWATCH Mission Critical


Manage episode 311276941 series 3082496
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Kirk's background is in the U.S. military, serving as an electronics technician aboard the USS Memphis until the turn of the century. After getting out of the Navy, he started looking for career paths to plug himself into. He worked as a field service engineer while simultaneously getting his Bachelor of Business Management degree. Because the role involved traveling from site to site, he got to witness the building of multiple data centers and tech businesses in the early 2000s. After graduation, he became the Southwest Regional Project Manager at EATON. Towards the end of his tenure there, he was diagnosed with cancer. As he was battling against the disease, he vowed to strive for something much bigger than his management role. With whatever time he had left, he wanted to master the skills that would put him on top of the industry. He skipped around for the next few years, learning what he could from each company or contract as he went: EDSA Micro, HP, Modular Power Solutions, CyrusOne, NOVA Mission Critical, and Aligned Energy. He had opportunities to work with some of the best companies in the industry. He was also fortunate enough to remain healthy in the process of gaining this experience. When Kirk had learned everything he could, all the while making some excellent industry contacts and lifelong friends, he was ready for the next step. In 2015, he became the Co-Founder of Data Center Austin Conference (DCAC). From there he didn't look back. Later he expanded his grasp, becoming the CEO of OVERWATCH Mission Critical, which recently celebrated its second anniversary. Around half the staff is ex-military, driven and mission oriented. Sometimes their skill sets didn't apply directly to the industry, but their tenacity allowed these recruits to adapt to their new, fast paced industry even though it has such a high learning curve. One of their first clients, Compass Datacenters, helped them to set up the diversity and apprenticeship programs that shaped OVERWATCH's culture. Why Does Ex-Military Apprenticeship Matter? The common thread that runs through the soul of every ex-military person is drive. They spent years with concrete routines and long work hours, sometimes upwards of 100 hours a week even outside of combat environments. Transitioning to civilian life can leave these veterans without direction. There’s a mental health crisis for a lot of veterans, with military suicides being four times more common than combat fatalities worldwide. Civilian life is simply a different universe. Direction and purpose are the keys to bridging these two lifestyles successfully. Whether these veterans have experienced trauma during their service, or whether they’re just experiencing a massive culture shock that leaves them questioning their purpose and identity, a disciplined framework needs to go hand in hand with an understanding environment. This is why ex-military apprenticeship is so critical. It provides an all-important lifeline that will help them to achieve reintegration more successfully.