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Microsoft in your community

Getting to know datacenter employees: Nick Hengelman

Datacenter Employee Spotlight is designed to bring recognition both to DC Techs who went through the Datacenter Academy or support their peers through mentorship and volunteerism. The spotlights also work to illuminate real-life examples of pathways into IT careers and provide potential role models to those looking to access to the digital economy.

Introducing Nick Hengelman

Datacenter Operations Manager

North Holland

Employee since 2017​​​​​​​

Early days

Nick Hengelman was raised with one younger brother in a small town in the north of Holland. Nick’s dad was a motorcycle enthusiast—Nick was even picked up from the hospital in a sidecar after he was born! When he was a young child, Nick’s small hands made him ideal for helping his dad with motorcycle repairs. This led to Nick’s interest in electrical engineering, and during school, he found an internship at a wind turbine company.

The path to technology

After completing the internship, Nick continued work on wind turbines, eventually working on commissioned projects on Aruba and Curaçao, building 60 megawatts of capacity for the islands. After spending so much time on the islands, life back in Amsterdam seemed a bit dull and Nick began to look for his next career move.

Nick began working on power and cooling systems for the datacenter before it was even fully built, as a contractor with the critical environments team. Nick eventually became a Microsoft employee as a project manager for the compliance team. A year later, he became an IT operations manager, and was recently promoted to datacenter operations manager for the entire campus. “I have a lot of confidence in the infrastructure and how it’s built because I’ve been here from the start and had to be very hands-on,” Nick says.

Superpowers

Nick has been instrumental in bringing the Datacenter Academy (DCA) program to the Netherlands. “The first time I heard about [the DCA] was by accident, in a newsletter. I wondered, why don’t we have this here? How can we make staying here more attractive, so that people don’t move away right after school?” Nick and his colleagues identified a school near the datacenter, and just drove over to present the idea. Although it took a few months to convince the school, Nick and his team’s persistence paid off and a new Datacenter Academy was created. Nick’s tenacity is apparent in the datacenter as well. “Thinking on my toes in a crisis situation is definitely what I like to do.”

A day in the life

A typical day starts with Nick meeting with his six leads who manage the technician teams. He’s updated on anything that occurred during the night shift and any critical needs. Nick says, “I don’t like to be in my office all day and my door is always open,” so he spends time walking around the datacenter and talking to the team to understand and prioritize needs. “There’s no schedule. There’s not really a playbook for how the day is going to go because it’s such a dynamic environment.”

Favorite childhood food

Dutch pancakes.

Nick remembers looking forward to weekend breakfasts because that often meant having pannekoeken, or Dutch pancakes—thinner than American pancakes and more akin to a crepe.

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