Eyjólfur Magnús Kristinsson
An engineer by training Magnús Kristinsson gained his Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Iceland before going to Denmark for his Masters in Industrial Engineering.
“One could argue I haven't spent my whole career doing that much engineering, although I've spent my whole career in the data centre and IT industry,” Kristinsson jokes. But with his logical engineering brain, Kristinsson is armed for what the data centre industry throws at its workforce — the ability to think on your feet and critically analyse to then problem solve, and fast.
He adds: “The essence of my engineering studies is the ability to learn new things and understand complex models and systems, and I've benefited a lot from that during my whole career.”
Starting his working life in sales straight out of university, he quickly worked his way up through the ranks to various managerial positions across the IT industry, although he admits that sales has always been an area close to his heart.
Kristinsson is now at the helm of atNorth, a pan-Nordic data centre and HPC AI operator which soon will be present in all Nordic nations. Currently operational in Iceland, Sweden and Finland — and launching atNorth’s ninth data centre in Denmark in Q4 of 2024 — atNorth provides data centre services to international customers as well as advanced HPC and AI services. Since atNorth’s inception in 2009, the company has been laser-focused on sustainability and has built its service offerings on the foundation that it operates in locations with access to renewable energy and where extremely high levels of energy efficiency can be achieved. For example, all its new data centres are built to reuse heat.
But what he truly takes through with him in his current role as atNorth’s CEO, a role held since January 2018, is his side hustle as a trainer and football referee.
“I very much learned how to deal with different kinds of people, how to motivate people and not least to work in difficult conditions sometimes,” Kristinsson said of his sporting experience. “Being a soccer referee helped me a lot, mostly in dealing with criticism in a positive and constructive way.”
But what really motivates Kristinsson, and what he says is his greatest strength, is his hunger for winning and achieving the best possible results.
“I enjoy getting people on board with things I want to achieve as well as the company as a whole,” he reflects. “I love getting everyone on board and then taking the team to that destination, and that has proven to be a great way of creating success in my career.”
He also attests that this collaboration and camaraderie, much like in sport, is key to atNorth’s ongoing success, but sometimes can present its own challenges. “There are challenges everyday,” Kristinsson admits. “It can be challenging to operate a team of a lot of people. But another challenge, which I enjoy most, is critical and analytical thinking.”
A keen advocate for teamwork, collaboration and knowledge sharing, Kristinsson is keen to acknowledge that despite his success being down to his own grit and determination, the influence of others has left a mark on him both professionally and personally.
“What has helped me the most,” he admits, “is learning to be humble and respect people. Someone’s probably told me at some point when I've been too arrogant or something. But these, I would say, are my two greatest learnings.”
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“For me, we're so much more than a large technology company. There's a responsibility on us as a strategic partner to nations, and as a partner to governments.”