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Meet a Member – Peter Panfil
VP Global Power, Vertiv

Peter PanfilPeter Panfil is the Vice President of Global Power at Vertiv. He leads strategic customer development for the Power business and works to apply the latest power and control technology to proven and emerging topologies to provide the availability, scalability, efficiency, and sustainability customers demand. Approaching 30 years in mission critical space, he has held executive positions including VP Engineering and VP/GM AC Power, prior to his current responsibilities. He is a frequent presenter and spokesperson for industry trade shows, conferences, and media outlets serving the IT, facilities, and engineering industry.


How Did You Get into the Mission Critical Business?

I got into the mission critical space the way most in the industry do – in a roundabout way. I was working for a small company doing power system design for precision environments like research and aerospace, and was approached by Liebert (now Vertiv) to apply digital control technology to UPS systems. Up until that time, most UPS were controlled by analog means or with analog/digital hybrids. To develop product features, I had to learn everything I could about what made the industry tick and how our equipment would be applied.

Only in America

My children and grandchildren are tired of hearing my stories about spending the summers of my youth picking beans for 6 cents a pound as a day laborer. It gave me drive and desire to learn and improve myself. I was the first in my family to go to college. My children and their spouses/partners now boast 3 different PhD recipients. Only in America can a poor kid from working class parents (one with only an 8th grade education, the other with a high school diploma) that started out living in the projects become an engineer, then a business executive, then a domain expert in a field as challenging and demanding as data centers. Over my career, I have logged over 2 million air miles, been to Asia 75 times, EMEA and CALA dozens of times and too many cities in North America to count. This first hand observation and direct contact with data center customers and operators gave me a unique perspective on the issues they face delivering reliable, efficient, sustainable critical space. Who knew when I was picking beans and looking up at the sky as planes flew overhead I would get to travel the world as I have. My wife and I have to resist the urge to pinch ourselves to make sure it is all real.

Blood Type B+ (Be Positive)

I am a happy person and try to always look for the positive in everyone and every situation. I often joke that my blood type is B+ (it really is). I encourage those around me to find a way to say “yes,” then quantify what the yes means. When I became a manager, I would ask associates how they were. They would immediately start describing what they were working on. I would stop and ask them how they really were. They would tell me about their kids or grandkids, about something that was bothering them, about happy or sad things that they were experiencing in their lives. I cherish those interactions.

The Love Of My Life

I could not have achieved what I have in my personal and professional life without the love of my life, my wife Rachel. In February 2023, we celebrated our 44th wedding anniversary and I love her with all my heart. The world admires and loves Rachel and does everything they can to make her happy, including me. She makes me a better person. I recently started on an “it’s not all about me” campaign at her behest. It has changed the way I interact with others for the good. She has given us four wonderful grown children and eight grandchildren, ranging in age from 5 to 23. We are involved as much as we can be in their lives. I am “Good Time Papa.”

What Have Been Some of Your Career Highlights?

I am proud of the positive impact I have had on the data center industry. Interestingly enough, many of these highlights have been shared through 7×24 Exchange forums. Over the course of my career at Liebert (AKA: Emerson Network Power, and now Vertiv), I have been part of generational changes in the industry: from mainframes, to client server, to cloud, and now high density compute. Each of those transitions challenged the industry to look at new ways of doing things that would help them lower cost, improve reliability, increase efficiency, and help save the planet through sustainability initiatives.

I have met with data center operators and their customers large and small – from hyperscalers to enterprise to SMB. I consider many of them personal friends in addition to professional colleagues. When they select their critical infrastructure provider it is a partnership. They expect the relationship to last 15 or 20 years and longer. When stuff happens, they want their partner to help them figure things out. When capacity or configuration changes are needed, they want a trusted advisor to help guide them through it. Above all, they expect to be treated professionally and honestly. I am proud to fill that bill.

I was honored recently to give a keynote at the 7×24 Exchange 2023 Spring Conference in Orlando. In my presentation, I noted that the data center industry is the result of disruptors and disruptions. Some folks are uncomfortable with disruptions. I feel one of my strengths is the ability to help spot disruptions and to help quantify the impact they will have on data center owners and operators, and to make those transitions as painless as possible. Whether it is the evolution of dual bus to reserve designs, the introduction of alternate energy storage like LIB, or the quest to generate zero carbon, the data center industry has been at the forefront of using technology to improve people’s lives. That is something we should all be proud of.