Big Ideas: “How we can keep critical infrastructures online and mitigate risk as our digital society doubles” with Peter Curtis CEO of PMC Group One
As a part of my series about “Big Ideas That Might Change The World In The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing Peter Curtis. Peter as the President and CEO of PMC Group One and a mission-critical operation professional, author, and industry speaker. After surviving the 9/11 tragedy Peter focused his 30 years’ experience to design and implement SmartWALK™ a next-gen, cloud-based Facilities Process Management software product which sets SOP standards for facility engineers to expedite critical operations tasks and mitigate infrastructure risks by closing process adherence gaps for the future AI-driven digitized world. Peter is the author of Maintaining Mission Critical Systems in a 24/7 Environment — an imperative guide to designing, operating and maintaining mission-critical equipment and systems. As a professor at the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) and Marist College, he trains the next-gen facility operations engineers for a digitized world to meet ideals of integrity, public safety, energy efficiency, cost containment, environmental consciousness, and outstanding workmanship. He has created training and certification programs integrating his intellectual property and training pedigree for colleges and trade associations. Peter holds a Master of Science Degree in Energy Management and a bachelor’s degree in Electro-Mechanical Computer Technology from New York Institute of Technology (NYIT).
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Well, that’s a very interesting question: at age 4 I stuck a bobby pin into an electrical outlet and literally saw stars. From that point on my engineering path was clear, however, over the years as I accumulated knowledge and experience, I saw areas of the industry — from life and critical infrastructure safety standpoints — where clear improvement was imperative. But the mission-critical mindset is different. I attained my mindset from caring for my brother who had muscular dystrophy. I remember in my early 20’s taking him home from the hospital on a portable ventilator for which I needed to write an operations procedure… now that’s a mission-critical engineering mindset.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
By far the most memorable and interesting experience was 9/11 and my unfortunate luck of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. This event propelled me to be laser focused and purposeful with how I use my time. It has allowed me to solve industry problems with real solutions that today touch half the world’s population. For me it’s always about the masses and how many people you can positively affect by what you do.
Can you tell us about your “Big Idea That Might Change The World”?
Over the next ten years our digital society and the associated data centers supporting critical infrastructure and information flow for our globe will double in size due to the different types of processing that are continuing to evolve today: such as Edge and Machine Learning Data Centers along with existing legacy Colocation sites. At the same time, half of the building engineers operating the critical facilities will retire. How will we manage and continue to keep these critical infrastructures online, mitigate risk, retain corporate knowledge, and have standardized training for the next generation of building engineers and other industry professionals? Since most information flow is processed at data centers we must plan now and train the next-generation of mission-critical engineers to safeguard our digital society which affects more than half of our global population — and more than 70% over the next ten years.
Blending the best in class engineering solutions, technology, and education/training in an all-encompassing platform for Facilities Process Management is part of the plan to mitigate risks during the transitionary period of training next-gen engineers.
PMC Group One’s cloud-based SmartWALK™ is the “big idea” next-gen Facilities Process Management software product that sets process and standards for facility engineers to expedite critical operations tasks and mitigate infrastructure risks by closing process adherence gaps for our AI-driven digitized world. Eliminating antiquated spreadsheets, SmartWALK™ is the ideal companion to future building engineers. Using robotic automation, it offers digitized intelligence for mission-critical operations.
How do you think this will change the world?
Integrating the face and the intelligence of SmartWALK™ as an avatar or robotic companion for industry professionals will bridge the gap for tomorrow’s manpower needs and next-generation tools for the mission-critical industry. Failing to do this will leave our mission-critical facilities of tomorrow, which enable our vast digitized world, with no trained specialists which could easily lead to catastrophic failures and significant societal infrastructure disruptions. So, in answer to the question it makes the world safer from the traffic lights that are sequenced correctly, to the FAA keeping track of our airplane traffic and flow, to running our energy systems, not to mention all the commerce … just imagine if the critical infrastructures behind these massive systems fail, how our lives will be affected.
This idea is embraced by our professionals and is currently being adopted, the industry knows that a knowledge and manpower gap does exist. There are also many ROI paths.
Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this idea? Can you tell us that story?
The tipping point has occurred many times throughout my career whether it’s a catastrophic, cascading infrastructure failure or man-made event. The bottom-line here is our building engineers, industry professionals, and first responders need to be informed and respond using a situational awareness tool. This can only happen when process and programs are funded, and standards are put in place to solve problems — while ensuring that they can be refreshed and improved upon continuously.
What do you need to lead this idea to widespread adoption?
At this point, what we need is for the mission-critical industry to be aware and understand the importance of our “big idea” and to implement it across their facilities — all the heavy lifting is done.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
Everything that I have embarked on in my career has been harder than I thought — including writing books and creating new software platforms that our industry lacked. Essentially, I am a pioneer, with lots of arrows in my back because I think out of the box and have the drive to do something purposeful and useful with my industry knowledge, time, and energy — and aim to disrupt/improve the industry with new products. And to achieve all this, I wish someone had told me early on how much patience, perseverance, and continued persistence I needed to have to make a significant, far reaching impact on the society. I probably wouldn’t have listened because I know I’m doing the right thing — the journey to get there is another story.
The future of work is a common theme. What can one do to “future proof” their career?
Continue learning every day … just because you completed your education it doesn’t mean you are finished with learning. There needs to be a continuous improvement process both personally and professionally every year.
Based on the future trends in your industry, if you had a million dollars, what would you invest in?
I would continue to invest in SmartWALK™ to expedite interfacing analytics, machine learning, and robotics/avatar intelligence into the platform.
Which principles or philosophies have guided your life? Your career?
The principal philosophy that drives my life is to communicate and deal with everyone with respect and truthfulness. Listening is as important as articulating your thoughts. As often as possible, we should all try to get a 360-degree perspective with regards to important decisions.
Can you share with our readers what you think are the most important “success habits” or “success mindsets”?
When you have something important to do be sure to complete it before noon. I love lists — and make sure tasks that I need to complete are on a list — if it doesn’t make it to a list it doesn’t get done! If you have a project with a long lead time, hit it hard in the beginning to allow for a more creative process … to provide yourself time to think and be more creative rather than starting the project at the eleventh hour.
Some very well-known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say?
The PMC Group One is working on critical infrastructure tools and solutions designed to safeguard people and businesses against risks. We impact half of the world’s population by providing education, training and technology tools to the mission-critical engineering industry … an industry that touches every business around the globe. Our technology roadmap includes robotics, analytics, machine learning and other areas of wearable technology that empower building engineers, professionals, and first responders. Your investment in PMC Group One will equally impact every business around the globe in mitigating risks and ensuring mission-critical facilities have the best-in-class solutions for tomorrow’s digitized world.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.