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Rory O’Brien: ‘Mercury’s success is accelerated by our vision to serve clients wherever they go’
Fiercely proud of his Northside roots, Rory O’Brien is a ‘dyed in the wool Dub’ with a true adventurer’s spirit. Originally an electrician by trade, Rory’s relentless passion to push further has brought him to exciting new territories. Now Managing Director of Mercury’s Critical Data Infrastructure (CDI) Division, Rory is leading the charge across Europe, delivering large scale projects for some of the world’s most renowned data centre companies.
“I’ve been managing projects since I was 22 years of age,” Rory says. “Before I joined Mercury I had 15 years’ experience under my belt, but I wanted to work on the bigger projects! Mercury was the only business that was operating at that level.” Rory played a key role in delivering some of Ireland’s most renowned construction projects, including Dundrum Town Centre, Croke Park and the Corrib Gas Project in Mayo. He then applied his skills in the Building services and Data Centre sectors, first on a large data centre project in Grange Castle, Ireland, before driving key data centre projects in Europe. From Dublin to Istanbul, Rory has been instrumental in cementing Mercury’s reputation as a true construction pioneer.
“When I joined Mercury, It was a very different company to the one we are now,” observes Rory. “The organisation had been operating as a series of separate entities. It was ready for change. When the new CEO, Eoin Vaughan, took the reins, he implemented a strategy that saw the business unite under one single brand and vision.”
Rory was one of four Mercury trailblazers, leading Data Centre growth across Europe. “We were first out of the traps, from Ireland, with Data Centres,” he affirms. “We started small and now we have four Data Centre Business Units. We’ve grown this business right across Europe and now we’re pushing further afield. An important part of our growth has been our willingness to follow our clients wherever they go.”
“We could see the opportunity in Europe. We were out there on our own, willing and hungry for work and growth. We were the ones driving repeat business, meeting people. We grew our Data Centre business from that point!”
“We are specialists in Data Centres but we have never allowed ourselves to be pigeon holed”, Rory is quick to point out.
“We have been very strategic in terms of our business growth. It’s about getting the balance just right. Yes, we work on complex, large-scale projects, but we believe that small scale projects are vital to the business too. These projects are just as pressurised, making them the perfect environment to instill the right skills into our younger teams. This means they are ready to tackle the bigger challenges earlier on in their careers.”
Training and education are an area that Rory feels Mercury excels in. “We develop people. We educate them. All our people go through constant education. We’re completely invested in it. We train them and sometimes we lose them, but they come back to us. We don’t just offer a job, we offer an education, the right supports for their work and home life. We look after them.”
When asked what makes Mercury so different, there’s no hesitation, “Our people.” This is an area where Rory has a keen personal interest. “I would like to think I’ve played a key role in pulling teams together and keeping teams together, developing loyalty for the team and one another, and ultimately Mercury. I push for people to be treated right because I know that we are stronger together. If you look at our teams, they work hard for each other and that’s the Mercury Way. Our people are everything. A lot of companies have tried to follow our approach but are not doing what we are doing.”
“We hire people for the long term. We want them to become immersed in the culture and the business of the territory they are working in. For example, we have been working on projects in Frankfurt since 2011. Our intention is to stay. We don’t go for one project, we’re in it for the long haul. When people take a role, many of them learn the language. They live their lives there. It’s a fantastic opportunity for young people. They get to open themselves up to new experiences and really get to feel what city centre living is all about.”
Rory feels that investment in people sends out a clear message, “It shows the people coming into the business that the opportunities are constant. If you put your hand up, you will be invested in and given the chance. Everyone has an equal opportunity to grow. There are no obstacles and boundaries.”
When asked what the future holds for Mercury, Rory is very emphatic. “The industry is changing on a global scale. There’s a renewed interest in engineering and the dynamic is shifting from a male oriented business to a more equal playing field. The industry is evolving and there are increasing career opportunities for women. During lockdown my own daughter saw me in a meeting with a colleague, Aisling Goff. She was fascinated with her role in the company and now wants to know more. What an amazing role model for a young person embarking on her career.”
Rory laughs when probed on his management style. “Attention to detail. I have an appetite for it that’s insatiable. I manage the detail. I look for the detail. I question and push. But it’s only because I want to see everyone being successful. I want to see our people to succeed. I’m interested in people. What they’re all about, why they are doing it. That appetite for what we do never goes away. It’s addictive.”
What advice would Rory give his 21-year-old self? “Feel the fear but just go for it! I’ve had a lot of challenges. Some of them were overwhelming. But every challenge I faced has given me something better. Every setback has pushed me further.” Rory has one bit of final advice. “Make more time for your family,” he adds. “It can be difficult when you’re working on projects that are constantly taking you away from home. But it’s one thing I’m really trying to prioritise now.”
Mercury is Europe’s most experienced Enterprise Data Centre service provider. We go beyond to meet the challenges of the ever-growing Enterprise market. Over the last 20 years our highly skilled global teams have successfully delivered data centres for some of the world’s largest data centre companies. Our cutting-edge construction methods mean we consistently deliver highly complex and specialised turnkey services. We design, build, plan, construct and commission data centres using the highest levels of safety, quality and delivery. We then manage the maintenance of facilities post-construction.
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