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Microsoft in your community

Getting to know datacenter employees: Björn Ahnell

Microsoft’s success depends on our people. We are proud to introduce some of the talented folks in your community who work in our global datacenters. Discover what inspired them to pursue a career in the tech industry, the different pathways they pursued, and what a day in the life of a datacenter employee looks like.

Introducing Björn Ahnell

Critical environment engineer (mechanical)

Gävle, Sweden

Employee since April 2021

Early days

Björn Ahnell grew up in Falun, a small city in Dalarna County, Sweden. As a child, he spent most of his free time outdoors, enjoying nature and playing sports. His favorite sport was soccer. As a teen, he took up motocross and motorcycling. Riding and tinkering with bikes sparked a lifelong interest in mechanics and engineering, eventually leading him to earn a degree in marine engineering from Chalmers University in Sweden.

The path to technology

Björn came to the datacenter from a background in the military as a systems technician operating sonar on navy ships and then as a marine engineer onboard cruise ships in southeast Asia. When COVID-19 gave him some unplanned time off—six months’ quarantine on board a cruise ship, to be specific (“luckily it was a cruise ship, so we had water slides and a basketball court,” he says)—Björn had plenty of time to contemplate his next move.

When a colleague suggested he apply to the Datacenter in Sweden, it seemed a natural step. Four class A datacenters had recently been built in Sweden, three of them near Björn’s hometown. Datacenters might seem a far cry from cruise ships, but they share similar mechanical systems—cooling systems, safety systems, fire alarm systems, water treatment plants. “My cruise ship experience fits very well,” says Björn.


Björn’s superpowers are the support and enthusiasm he brings to his team. “I listen to everyone. I’m listening and helping everyone,” he reflects. “I’m quite friendly.” It surely helps that he genuinely enjoys working with his teammates. His favorite thing to do on the job, he says, is taking on challenges as a team. “It’s a common thing among us engineers that we like to solve problems. It’s especially fun to solve problems together with some spit balling… you just run through some ideas. It’s a really nice part of the job, really.”

A day in the life

Björn starts his day with a morning sync with the other mechanical and electrical engineers on his team. “We go through incidents that might have happened overnight or over the weekend and discuss what jobs we are going to have that day,” Björn explains. They discuss issues that have come up and any extra support a teammate might need. The rest of the day varies depending on what maintenance issues arise in the mechanical systems of the datacenter—for example, the cooling or rainwater harvest systems. “For a datacenter, that is the primary challenge—cooling.”

Favorite childhood food

“My mom’s sandwich cake is my favorite,” Björn recalls. “She makes it with a special kind of bread.” The Smörgåstårta is a savory layered treat perfect for special occasions in the summer.