In the INAP Executive Spotlight series, we interview senior leaders across the organization, hearing candid reflections about their careers, what they love about their work and big lessons learned along the way.
Next in the series is Roberto Montesi, Vice President of Sales & Operations, International for INAP. He also oversees international facilities, as well as web and VPS hosting provider, Funio, an INAP company.
In our conversation, Montesi discussed what he loves about his role at INAP, his passion for life-long learning and why Montreal is a strong market for INAP’s business. Read on to learn about these topics and more.
The interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
Tell us about your education and career path. Did you take any detours to get where you are today?
Technology and IT have been a part of my life since a very young age. I would jump at the opportunity to go help someone having desktop computer problems, so it makes sense that my first part time job was in technical support at a call center. As my career progressed, I took on leadership roles quickly, as my enthusiasm for the job would get noticed. These leadership roles have allowed me to spread my passion for this work and have my employees perform amazing customer service.
After a few years managing technical teams, I decided to continue my career in management, but focused on touching multiple departments, including retention, sales, dispatch center, finance and collections. At the same time, I decided to also invest in revenue properties and start a restaurant with a couple of business partners. But those stories would lead us way off track. After a few years of managing and building call centers, I decided to go back into technology at iWeb Technologies, Inc. The smaller sized company allowed me to get to know everyone quickly, and I was excited to go back to managing a team of highly technical CSR.
After a few years of building up the team and center of expertise, my passion for our products grew—specifically, colocation. I look at it as similar to owning property and leasing an apartment, except we lease space and power. At that time, during a re-organization, the sales team and collections team were reporting to me temporarily while we hired a new director. Once he was in place, he proposed that I move on to the sales organization as a senior account manager, focusing on our top customers. From there, after the INAP acquisition, I am now leading the International teams.
Where are you seeing the most momentum and opportunities within the international business unit this year?
We have seen some great breakthroughs in Montreal with VFX, and our new London Region for Cloud and Colocation has helped to build traction on pipeline growth. The gaming sector is also still very attractive to us, as is Ad Tech.
What’s a typical day like for you?
Since I oversee sales and operations for our international markets, I would say no two days are the same. In operations, we find ourselves reacting to plans that need to be either moved up faster or delayed to prioritize something else. On the sales side, my days start by looking at the forecast and pipeline to see where the team might need my support. My one-on-ones planned with my team members are crucial to help me organize my future schedule around their needs.
What do you enjoy most about your role at INAP? What do you think is the best part about being in the data center and cloud industry?
I have been a part of the company for 11 years, and what keeps me on board and engaged are the customers. Seeing how we support customers as they grow and meet their objectives is what makes me love my job. Also, the amount of technical learning I get on data centers, solutions, network and future technology. Why wouldn’t you want to be working for us?
With the roles you’ve held at INAP and iWeb, what have been the most exciting changes over the years? What’s been a constant – something you’re glad has stayed the same?
Having worked for three very different CEOs, it’s great to see Pete looking outside the box on strategy. He wants to grow the company and brings many ideas to the table while surrounding himself with a great executive team of people he trusts. I think we are well positioned to hit our targets and keep growing the company. On the operations side, we execute well. I’m happy to see leaders staying on with us over five or more years, still working hard to ensure we deliver to our customers. Without a great operations team, it would be hard to be the provider so many customers trust.
Out of the qualities you possess, which do you think has had the greatest influence on your success?
Again, my hunger to learn more and never back down from a challenge. To have the trust of so many in the company and being allowed to lead such an important part of the business, it’s an amazing feeling. But I do have to say I love winning a new customer. That feeling of beating your competitors never gets old.
You’re based in Montreal, a city that loves to tout its bona fides as major Canadian tech hub. Why do you think it’s an ideal market for our industry?
Montreal/Canada has a great relationship with the U.S. It’s an easy extension for any American to come up to Montreal and have access to so much great talent in our industry. I can say that data centers are growing fast here because of the very low cost on power and land taxes, but also the colder temperatures that permit us to run free cooling up to 10 months a year. We also have fiber rich density coming up from Ashburn and Europe. This makes us a great location for customers looking for Edge locations.
What are some of the big lessons you’ve learned in your career?
Surround yourself with great leaders who understand ownership. We are all interdependent to make this a successful journey while we are here. Don’t try to do it alone. It doesn’t scale. And lastly listen to your managers and other executives, they are my mentors even if they don’t know it.