E11 - Nigel Van Houten at Ekco

Charlie  Draper
Nigel  Van Houten

By Charlie Draper & Nigel Van Houten

On this week’s episode on The Route to Networking, Charlie Draper, the Germany Network Consultant at Hamilton Barnes sat down with Nigel Van Houten, the Infrastructure Manager at Ekco. Nigel talks us through his journey through the networking industry and his current position in leadership and touches on his blog/vlogs and what inspired him to do that.

Nigel took on an engineering course at university, shortly before enrolling in an IT course where he ended up taking on Information Education. University isn’t always for everybody, but in Nigel’s case, talking from the position he’s in today, says it helped him greatly. To start, it helped him with his critical and analytical thinking and thinks it’s always best to study as much as you can for as long as you can. Regarding his management position, he doesn’t hire people based on education only, but in his experience, he met a lot of professionals through that platform which essentially helped him further in his career so if it wasn’t for those people, he wouldn’t be where he is today. Although, he does believe he would be in a nice career but not the one he’s in currently.

If you took us back to 20-30 years ago, IT has expanded and evolved in many ways. Nigel’s take on the changes is interesting yet correct… every person in the IT industry years ago was made to do absolutely everything, from centre management to coding and restricting and everything you could think of. For example, in a business, someone would have to build the infrastructure and website where that just wouldn’t be possible now down to the fact the workload has grown, and we now have the technology to do that for us.

Not only is Nigel a successful businessman at a well-respected and expanding company, but he also loves to blog/vlog. He started writing his blogs when he first started out working, he’s always had blogs in his life as that’s where he loved to share and debate. Vlogs are something that he’s only just started doing, so all is still very new to him. He spent a lot of his free time finding things to learn and discuss with people online and dives into the psychology of why people act the way they do, how they work etc and uses this to adjust the ways he manages and the people he works with.

Some background on Ekco… they buy other companies and it’s only getting bigger. They are backed by investors and there is now a large push on the company to become a cloud provider, infrastructure, and backup service. With this, comes much pressure and daily challenges. He describes it as being in a pressure cooker, putting all different kinds of people and technologies together, figuring out where you want to go and then finding out how you’re going to come into this new place where you want to come to an ‘Ekco’. His take on overcoming these challenges is to land on the ground, look around and ask a lot of questions and remain incredibly curious.

The expansion of Ekco has grown profusely going from 150 employees at the end of last year to now 280 people, continuously growing, almost doubling in size. The datacentres they are covering right he can only describe as “too much”.

Every hiring manager looks for a specific person when in the hiring process, with Nigel, aside from being skilful, he looks for curious people, people who don’t ask questions are an immediate no-go for him as they are hard to teach. Linking to that, being eager, people who are eager to fix things and make them right. And finally, something that’s slightly controversial… something that goes against a lot of hiring managers’ beliefs… to have a bit of laziness in you. Lazy people don’t like to fix things twice and want to get things done the first time around. So, the key trait to have, in his words… “you need to be a little lazy”.

Then it takes us to our quick-fire round… how much caffeine does he drink a day? You will never guess how many… Listen to the podcast to find out: