Essential Guide

The 2013 IT Leadership Awards: Profiles in leadership and management

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IT manager helps foundation build true net-zero energy facility

Marcus Krawinkler looked beyond the cloud in pursuing a net-zero energy and LEED-certified facility. Get to know this IT Leadership Awards finalist.

Our SearchCIO-Midmarket 2013 IT Leadership Awards recognize the contributions and innovations of IT professionals within midmarket companies. We put out a call for nominations of individuals who have excelled in six categories: cultural innovation, technological advancement, business value, green IT, IT engagement and customer experience.

Marcus KrawinklerMarcus Krawinkler

Marcus Krawinkler, manager of IT systems and operations for The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, located in Los Altos, Calif., is a finalist for the Green IT Award. Krawinkler created and advocated for a plan to keep the foundation's IT infrastructure on-site at its new headquarters, designed to be a net-zero energy and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum-certified building.

Initially, foundation executives and design team members supported moving the IT infrastructure to the cloud as a way to cut down on on-site energy use, but moving processes off-site doesn't necessarily equate to a reduction in energy consumption. Considering, Krawinkler challenged -- and eventually changed -- their thinking with a plan for the foundation, which distributes grants to support education, health and environmental sustainability projects, to meet energy use goals while keeping IT systems at the facility.

With the server infrastructure already virtualized, Krawinkler set about upgrading the switches and routers equipment, installing a more-efficient storage area network, and transitioning from a private branch exchange phone system to a Voice over Internet Protocol system. As a result of these efforts, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation opened its truly net-zero energy facility in June 2012.

Get to know Krawinkler in our Q&A below.

Number of years in IT: 17

Revenue: None. Our endowment is currently around $5.8 billion.

Number of employees in the company: 115-plus temps and contractors.

From the judges

"Very green story. I would love to hear how it was done and if it's replicable."

Number of employees in IT: 7

Educational background: Attended California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Calif., majoring in mechanical engineering, [then] moved into the IT space.

First job: CAD [computer-assisted design] work and some office IT support for Failure Analysis Associates (now known as Exponent).

What's the best advice you've ever received? Don't ignore your gut.

In the movie of your life, who would play your character? Depends on who is directing!

If you could have just one superpower, what would it be and why? The power of suggestion. Explaining the complexities of system integration can be tough.

What's your favorite app on your smartphone or tablet device? For work, probably iTeleport. Nothing beats the ability to connect to a full desktop to get work done in a pinch. For fun, I hate to say it, but I probably play Angry Birds games more than anything else.

Where do you fall in the iPhone vs. Android debate? They both have their merits -- depends on the user. Personally, now that jailbreaking iOS devices is technically illegal, I'll be losing access to some of my favorite productivity tools, so I'll be leaning toward Android.

Describe the best technology decision you ever made. Virtualizing our server infrastructure. The flexibility and quick turnaround it provides is critical to running an efficient shop.

An excerpt from the nomination

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation set out to build a LEED platinum and net-zero energy use building. The challenge was to prove that the entire IT infrastructure could be run on-site and still meet the energy-use goals of the organization.

Was there ever a technology you thought was a gimmick but now couldn't live without? If not, which current technology is a gimmick or overly hyped? Virtualization: Ten to 15 years ago, servers could barely handle one instance of an [operating system] with a database. Now, I can't imagine spinning up a new server every time we go into a development cycle.

What's the biggest challenge you face in IT today? Content management! Getting cross-organization agreement on information architecture, content types and document taxonomy is never an easy task. In the world of Google Docs and the like, fending off requests for tools built around low/no security and convenience -- which have minimal integration capabilities, no workflow, no administrative or record management capabilities -- is frustrating. Did I mention my superpower would be the power of suggestion?

Which role and/or internal partner do you rely upon the most? Probably our technical support staff. They do a great job keeping users happy.

What's your prediction for the next big technology? I've heard of this new thing called a cellphone. It's a telephone you can use almost anywhere and it fits in your pocket! Really, though, we need better batteries. Laptops aren't going anywhere, and they need to last as long as [mobile] phones and tablets.

What's your favorite non-monetary benefit or perk of your job? Besides working in a very nice, new building with great catering, it's knowing I work for an organization that strives to improve and preserve the world we live in.

What is the biggest problem you see with corporate cultures today? Jumping on the bandwagon! Media and advertising push hokum technologies and services, which tout lower costs, but these quick wins have hidden costs in quality and productivity, which quickly make them end up costing more.

What are "rookie mistakes" you see in up-and-coming IT leaders? Taking on too many projects; don't spread yourself too thin.

Describe your leadership style: Nerd alert: Think Dr. Who meets House

I have a participative leadership style. Teamwork is critical to a successful project of any size, so I often take a role in facilitating teams to decisions and projects to completion. As a subject-matter expert, sometimes I have to balance consensus with efficiency. But most importantly, work has to be fun or it's just not healthy. Sometimes it's hard to do, but I try to make time for those opportunities.

This was first published in May 2013

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Essential Guide

The 2013 IT Leadership Awards: Profiles in leadership and management

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