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Data Centre Titans: Championing Sustainability in Asia with Wong Wai Meng, CEO of Keppel Data Centres

Wed 4 Oct 2023

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In the fourth edition of Data Centre Titans, we connect with Wong Wai Meng, the CEO of Keppel Data Centres and Chairman of SGTech’s Executive Committee.

Wong discusses his three-decade journey in the tech world, highlighting Singapore’s potential as a global tech hub and emphasising the importance of green innovation within the data centre sector.

Having started working and supporting himself from the age of ten, Wong’s resilience and drive underscore his insights and leadership.

Join Wong Wai Meng at Tech Week Singapore as he delves deeper into the impact of the digital economy, AI, and sustainability on data centres. Secure your free ticket today!

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What is your role and how did you get to your current position?

I am the Chief Executive Officer of Keppel Data Centres and Chair of SGTech.  Having spent 30 years in the tech industry, I feel both appointments allow me to give back to the tech industry and Singapore.

SGTech is the ‘horizontal-vertical’ that is helping to drive digitalisation and tech adoption across other industries.

Singapore is in a good position to tap into the fast growing global digital economy as a hub and SGTech is working with various trade association and chambers (TACs) and government partners to drive towards the vision for Singapore to be a global tech powerhouse.

I am also fortunate that working at Keppel allows me to tap into the cross-divisional engineering capabilities from connectivity to infrastructure to real-estate that is required to enable large scale sustainable connectivity infrastructure programmes like the low-carbon-zero-water Datapark+ project.

How do you see AI shaping the future of the data centre industry?

AI will change the way we live, work and play. That means an insatiable amount of compute capacity will be required and data centres is a core supporting infrastructure.

The intensive compute requirement of AI will definitely shape the design of data centre to handle the increased power and cooling density required. The real challenge is sustainability, that is, these increased energy and cooling demands need to be sustainable and green, and you need innovation to resolve this dichotomy.

How can we shift public perception from data centres being significant energy consumers to champions of sustainability and social impact?

To encourage renewal and green energy investment to accelerate transition, you need a real and aggregafor tted meaningful scale in off-take.

This is where the industry, SGTech, with Keppel and other partners is working on a Datapark program to unlock this dichotomy. We are looking to deliver significant digital infrastructure capacity that is critical in enabling the future of our digital economy, whilst accelerating our sustainability agenda.

The whole idea is to aggregate the demand from the data centre industry so that we can provide a meaningful scale to catalyse investment in new energy infrastructure and accelerate transition of green energy for Singapore.

What is one major challenge you’ve faced in your career, and how did you overcome it?

It is never about any single challenge and any particular point in time. When you set big goals and decide to set out on a journey to make a difference, you will constantly be faced with what seems to be insurmountable challenges.

What keeps me going are my beliefs and a ‘never say never’ mindset. What is easy and not scary is probably not worth your effort and time.

Can you share a pivotal moment in your life that has significantly influenced who you are today?

What has probably shaped my life most is that I started working and paying for myself since I was ten years old, until now. It was not by choice, but this experience has strengthened my adversity quotient, imbued a clear conception that nothing in life is an entitlement, but yet, an optimistic approach to life.

It has taught me that our destiny is in our own hands.

What advice would you give to someone starting in the data centre industry?

You are in one of the best industries, for at least the next decade. The industry is expected to grow exponentially, driven by digitalisation and tech adoption, with AI being one of the many tech trends on the horizon. Take advantage of it!

What quote inspires you as a leader or empowers you in your work?

If there’s one quote that I feel its important enough that can change the world, it’s Albert Einstein’s ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution’.

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11-12 October 2023, Marina Bay Sands

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