Data Centre Engineer of the Year
Sustainability is the buzzword of the moment in the built environment sector, but here at Black & White (B&W), it’s not simply a design trend. It’s embedded across our entire business - from our specialist team of building physics experts to our design principles. It’s at the heart of all we do. We don’t just walk the walk when it comes to sustainable best practice, we talk the talk - and it’s a philosophy that has fuelled our rapid global growth over the past two years.
B&W has created and developed a specific team of experts that’s focused solely on sustainability and building physics. Our depth of knowledge and experience in sustainability has been fundamental to positioning ourselves as the ‘go-to’ specialist MEP design consultancy not just regionally but globally too.
Bolstered by our sustainability strength, we’ve experienced rapid global growth in the last two years. Our workforce is now a 300+ strong team, a 50% rise in 24 months. Our client base has expanded, and our turnover doubled and we’re currently a 10-million-pound revenue business.
We’ve made our own pledge to sustainability, setting an ambitious target of becoming Net Zero Carbon by 2030. Sustainability at B&W encompasses more than just the avoidance of the depletion of natural resources. We believe that health and wellbeing and sustainability go hand in hand. The health and wellbeing of the occupants is considered by considering metrics such as daylight access, thermal comfort and air quality. We are, for example, working on a development called Warwick Building in London which is targeting certification under the WELL Building Standard using our own in-house WELL assessor. We embed sustainable design in all of our projects to determine the most efficient solution.
Unique data centre expertise and first-class engineering team
Our unique sustainability and building physics design expertise has also enabled us to carve out a specific strength in data centre design, differentiate our offering and lead from the front when it comes to creating more sustainable data centres.
And our expertise comes from our first-class engineering team who are constantly raising the bar when it comes to industry-leading, innovative, sustainable data centre MEP design.
One of engineers who has been truly instrumental in the successful delivery of B&W’s large-scale data centre projects, ensuring design concepts are fit for purpose and practically feasible, is Jonathan Robinson-Hoare. Jonathan’s hunger to learn and progress combined with his tenacity to seize professional development opportunities has led to him becoming a leader in our electrical engineering data centre design team.
Jonathan continues to raise standards in multiple ways across the business. Whether it’s leading on innovative, game-changing data centre engineering design, supporting other engineers in their professional growth, or simply explaining how to do a job and do it exceedingly well, Jonathan shows up every single day, smashing targets and driving ever higher standards for us all.
He’s determined, ambitious, switched on and skilled. Combine this with his excellent personal qualities of empathy, cooperation, positivity, and responsiveness, he encapsulates everything you need to become an incredible, intelligent and innovative engineer.
His strive for excellence in design, in the workplace and for our clients has significantly supported our rapid growth. Specifically, he’s helped to generate over £2 million in turnover with two of our larger clients. Jonathan continues to go above and beyond to meet client requirements as well as his colleagues' needs too. B&W’s ‘client first’ ethos is fully engrained within his work, and he delivers the best possible service at all times. Even when he’s working against the odds whether that’s in terms of time, resource or other challenges that inevitably arise during a project, Jonathan always goes beyond client expectations. The difference with Jonathan is that he doesn’t see clients as clients but rather an extension of the B&W team. He’s constantly in touch with clients, updating them on projects and gaining feedback at each stage of the design process before moving to the next phase. He informs clients before they ask for an update. He predicts what they’ll need and by when. His ability to foresee situations also enables B&W to excel in delivery, going beyond client expectations time and time again.
With over 20 years of industry experience, Jonathan started out as an electrician in November 2001 and then progressed to managing electrical installations. From there, Jonathan moved into design consultancy in March 2014 as an electrical engineer. This provided entry into the specific MEP electrical engineering industry as well as the opportunity to gain hands-on practical experience.
Jonathan graduated with a First-Class Honours in Electrical and Electronic Engineering (BEng) in 2017. He then became a lead electrical engineer on projects in 2016 with Patrick Parsons. In January 2019, he progressed to Principal Engineer before joining B&W in February 2020. Jonathan has a plethora of design experience including involvement in Electrical Power Management Systems (EPMS) and Building Automation Systems (BAS).
In a short period - two years - Jonathan has risen through the B&W ranks to an Associate Director leading teams of electrical engineers on multiple data centre projects ranging from 8MWIT to 32MWIT.
The impact Jonathan has had
In the last year, Jonathan has led the electrical design for various data centre schemes ranging from concept to construction for a total of over 200 MWIT capacity.
Jonathan has a sound knowledge of working in the 3D environment, using BIM techniques to ensure projects can be installed, maintained and future plant replaced without complications. His data centre specific experience includes a fundamental and outstanding knowledge of electrical engineering and how this influences the design and integration of electrical systems within a data centre, from MV/LV topology to UPS and generator systems.
Leaving no stone unturned
His hunger to learn and develop combined with his tenacity to seize professional development opportunities has led to Jonathan becoming a leader in our electrical engineering data centre design team. Jonathan works on our largest and most prominent data centre design projects where he is the key client contact. His role sees him travel globally to work closely with clients and he’s led projects across Europe and the UK.
Jonathan’s ethos is centred around leaving ‘no stone unturned'. He will not accept any mediocre solution as a given, he’s always pushing, and always striving for the optimal result, the best solution, for B&W and our clients. He has strong working relationships with our clients and is able to get clients on board with new, innovative ideas and move away from pre-existing designs, which may not be optimal or provide the best, most efficient, sustainable or cost-effective solution for the client’s specific needs.
Jonathan’s technical knowledge, passion and determination to do the best job he can for a client that meets their needs and benefits B&W too has always been his biggest strength. However, the most important skill he has learnt is how to transfer his knowledge and skills to others within the business and teach and train those entering the industry and joining B&W fresh from college or university.
The Covid-19 lockdown tested Jonathan’s ability and skills to do this, where in-person interaction has been limited over a long period of time. However, Jonathan has excelled in mentoring, training and upskilling new B&W engineers through video calls, online presentations and remote workshops with new employees across the company, while also developing a specialist training programme for new starters, ensuring their professional development is a priority and they’re provided with the right amount of support, instruction and guidance even when working remotely.
Jonathan’s ability to do this and take on a key mentorship role within the business has been fundamental to the growth and success of B&W in the last 24 months. By investing properly in new starters, providing effective on-the-job training, new and inexperienced employees have thrived and developed considerably despite not being able to collaborate, interact and share knowledge in person.
B&W has provided Jonathan with dedicated leadership training, to both maximise his strengths and minimise blind spots in his leadership style which has greatly helped him in becoming the superb mentor he is today as he continues to train and manage a number of employees across our global team.
Why should Jonathan win?
Alongside leading multiple international data centre projects for B&W, Jonathan has also played a key role in the development and training of our other engineers. He’s a mentor in data centre electrical engineering design services and has successfully onboarded several new employees, with no prior data centre experience, developing them into highly skilled, data centre engineers.
Jonathan has created and delivered specific training sessions on different aspects of data centre engineering design. He provides extremely useful opportunities for the team to develop within a supportive environment that ensures projects are delivered in accordance with B&W’s exceptionally high standards. Our focus at B&W is to develop a people-led strategy which is centred around our One Team approach. Jonathan embodies this through his daily mentorship of other employees, a skill he has worked hard to enhance, where he helps to equip his teammates with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed. Jonathan is outstanding at multitasking and fosters an ‘door open’ approach where any member of the team can ask a question, ask for help or seek guidance whenever they feel they need support or strategic direction.