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Behind the Scenes with Bjarne Sørbø

In the bustling world of data centers, where maintaining 100% uptime is a critical necessity, one manager has risen above the rest, recently clinching the prestigious Data Center Manager of the Year award at Data Center World 2024.  Now that the dust has settled on the successful event, we had the opportunity to catch up with Bjarne Sørbø, Operations Director of Green Mountain in Norway, to delve into his experiences, motivations, and aspirations. His journey is a testament to the power of teamwork, dedication, and a pursuit of excellence.

Bjarne has been part of Green Mountain since the beginning. He was employee number three when he started as a site manager in 2013.  He is now responsible for a cross-site and cross-function team that supports the local technicians while also developing the overall global processes and procedures of data center operations at his company. Working across multiple sites and disciplines, his team members are often involved in projects outside their core team. The team members have their unique skill sets ranging from automation, telecom, operations, process management, security, and fire protection, and together they form a strong basis for operational excellence. They leverage this input from all corners of the company to support and share their knowledge throughout the organization. “Bjarne fosters a culture where everyone is acknowledged for their expertise but at the same time understands that they are part of a team” says Svein Atle Hagaseth, CEO of Green Mountain.

Conversation with Bjarne Sørbø

To learn more about Bjarne's data center journey and the secrets behind his team's success, we sat down with him for an in-depth conversation: 

How did it feel the moment you won the 2024 Data Center Manager of the Year award? 

"Winning the award was a great experience," Bjarne shared. "I felt truly humbled and honored by this recognition, especially since there are so many talented leaders in this industry. I will use this opportunity to be a good ambassador for data center managers."

What's the most fun part of your job?

"Working with people! Both our own employees and our clients and partners. In the high-stakes environment of a data center, where every second counts, it's the human element that makes the difference. Maintaining 100% uptime is critically dependent on the people who work there. They need to have the right skillsets, attitudes, and resources to do their job. I love building a culture where we deliver on our commitments to the client. This is something I love to do, and I think it reflects in our results."

What do you believe is the most important quality for being an outstanding data center manager?

Bjarne explains his philosophy: "It’s all about being present for your team. I like to work closely with team members and be hands-on in different projects. My style is based on trust and is very non-hierarchical. I'm not the type of manager who sits in his office and reads reports all day."

His management style is grounded in trust and empowerment. "I empower my team to make the best decisions for the company, learn from mistakes, and take responsibility. This creates strong teams that perform well."

Irene Vikingstad, Chief People & Culture Officer at Green Mountain, added: “Bjarne empowers his team members by delegated authority and a high level of trust. This way, they can be creative, innovative, and make their own decisions for the best of the company. It’s a democratic, non-bureaucratic, and collaborative way of managing. A key part of this is “psychological safety,” which means employees know that if they do speak up, if they do engage and make decisions, there is room for mistakes. After all, we learn from mistakes.”

What do you hope to accomplish professionally in the next five years?

Despite his impressive 11+ year tenure, Bjarne remains focused on collective goals rather than personal accolades. His vision for the next five years is to scale up the organization while maintaining its core culture and values.

 "I don’t have any specific career ambitions on my own behalf apart from supporting Green Mountain’s strong growth journey," he said. "We have exciting times ahead of us, and every week we welcome new colleagues to the company."

"In addition to my focus on Green Mountain, I want to strengthen the industry’s reputation and inspire more people to embark on a data center career. Hopefully, I can cooperate even more closely with educational institutions to achieve this."

What advice would you give to new or aspiring managers in the data center industry?

For those looking to step into the world of data center management, his advice is simple yet profound:, "Make sure you make your team members your first priority. The most important thing is not your own career but the success of the team and organization."

He believes that acting in the best interest of the client and the company will be noticed and appreciated. "This kind of attitude will give you an interesting career within the industry," he assured.


A Bright Future Ahead

Bjarne is a strong believer in skills development and has been responsible for the growth of several educational programs both within and outside the company. He was the initiator behind the internal “Green Academy.” This initiative incorporates all the different training and education opportunities that Green Mountain supports. With a solid base of competence, his team can be innovative and solutions-oriented in their approach to problem-solving. This means that the team tries to explore new possibilities and technology. A fjord cooling solution, pilot projects on heat reuse, and his energy efficiency program for clients are just some examples of innovative solutions at Green Mountain.

Bjarne is an exemplary manager who goes the extra mile for his team, clients, and the company. As we wrapped up our conversation, it was clear that Bjarne’s passion for his work and his team are the driving force behind his success. His story is not just about managing a data center; it's about leading with heart, inspiring others, and continuously striving for excellence. Congratulations Bjarne!