Rob Di Stefano, IT Director

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Green Machine, IT Director, Earth Rangers

Rob is an industry leader in green technology – and his work helps teach kids how to preserve the environment and save animals!

Rob helped the Earth Rangers Centre of Sustainable Technology (ERCST) win three global awards for the cutting-edge, smart green technologies in its data center. The center’s size is only 100 sq/ft in size thanks to green tech. Otherwise it would need to be 10 times larger! Rob travels to tech conferences across North America to present and promote the data centre, while helping other companies adopt green tech too.

Rob’s CareerMash

Rob mashes environmental technologies that keep buildings cool in summer and warm in winter with trail-blazing info tech. He works at Earth Rangers, an award winning charitable organization located in Woodbridge, Ontario. Earth Rangers and their animal ambassadors like Cosmo the lemur and Sonic the barn owl visit schools and communities across Canada. They aim to inspire everyone to adopt sustainable behaviours that will protect animals and their habitats.

To be a true leader, Earth Rangers has to walk the talk. The ERCST is not just home to the animals – it also houses some of the most cutting edge green building technologies on the planet.

Rob led the ERCST’s transformation into cloud computing and virtualization. Cloud computing lets you store and run files, emails and applications on remote Internet-based servers (Gmail and Facebook are examples of cloud-based applications). With virtualization, software that seems to run on one computer is actually split off and shared among several different computers. Rob helped virtualize 64 physical machines down to one. This reduced the energy by 150,000 kilowatts per year, comparable to the average annual energy use of nine Canadian homes.

“Everything we do has an impact on the environment. We’ve created a demonstration site for other organizations to see what we can do with a small footprint by virtualizing and saving energy.  A lot of companies are starting to do this because of the cost savings and the reduced green footprint. We can use the money that we save the kids programs and the animals. We also plan to use the heat that our data centre generates to warm the animal wing,” Rob says.

A day in the life

As the in-house tech guy, Rob supports the 50 people who work at the ERC. “My team and I are responsible for the data center, telecom, network, servers, application support, maintenance, and purchasing. Most important, we ensure that all users have the tools to do their jobs.” Rob and his team work from a queue generated by users who email requests. “It is like a ticketing system. We track our work so all users get support in a timely manner.”

Rob and his team continuously check systems and backups to ensure everything runs as expected. ERCST computers monitor and analyze energy use. They provide a picture that shows how to become even more green savvy.  Rob also works on special projects and alongside ERCST sponsors like Dell. “I get to work on some really cool technology and branch out my skills into marketing and sales. I have some great ideas and my peers are always open to listen to them,” he says.

Why this job rocks

  • “I love to work with leading edge technology, but I also get to work for a great organization that has a mission to educate children and their families to be our next generation of environmental stewards,” he says.
  • Rob says his job is fun, educational, challenging, and never boring. “It’s not like 10 or 20 years ago where you sat in a room programming all day. You get out and work with the greatest technology available. The possibilities are endless...”

Roadmap

  • Rob studied computer science at Chaminade College School, a private boys high school in Toronto. He then went to NuBase Technologies where he earned a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer designation.
  • He got a job in tech support at Microforum, a company that manufactures multimedia and designs products from DVDs to video transfer to web development.
  • He moved over to Pitney Bowes Canada, a communications company that produces hardware and software solutions for businesses.  He worked there six years as manager of infrastructure support services.
  • In 2008 he became IT Director at Earth Rangers. He’s taken various technical training courses online and in class throughout his career, earning certificates such as Project Management Professional (PMP).

Speed Bumps

  • Rob has to ensure Earth Rangers keeps up to date with green technology and practices what it preaches. 
  • He constantly experiments with new ways to make the centre even greener.
  • Right now, the ERC operates 90% more efficiently than most buildings its size, but Rob is trying to use IT to increase even more.

Tips for success

  • Start immersing yourself in technology now.  “You’ll need to know every aspect of IT from a technical side, then you’ll need to be able to present and communicate with your peers.
  • Always stay up to date with leading edge tech and keep in mind that green tech and cloud computing are on the rise. Knowledge is power,” Rob says.