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New Leadership At The Top For Data Center Giant

Digital Realty has appointed REIT veteran Mary Hogan Preusse to head its board.

Digital Realty Board Chairman Mary Hogan Preusse

Hogan Preusse will take over as chairman of the board at Digital Realty, the world’s second-largest data center provider, the company announced on Monday. A member of Digital Realty’s board since 2017, she begins her tenure as the public data center giant faces pressure to adapt to a growing but rapidly evolving digital infrastructure landscape. 

"Mary's extraordinary investment experience and knowledge of our industry and technology-driven platform will be tremendously valuable as we continue to adapt to the changing world and enable our customers to execute on their digital transformation initiatives globally,” Digital Realty CEO A. William Stein said in a release. “I'm thrilled to work even more closely together with her to execute our long-term strategy." 

Hogan Preusse steps into Digital Realty’s top post with more than 30 years of experience in REITs and public real estate investment. From 2000-2017, she served as a managing director of APG Asset Management, where she specialized in public real estate investment in the Americas. This followed eight years as a REIT analyst at Merrill Lynch. In addition to the chairmanship at Digital Realty, she holds board positions at Realty Income Corp., Host Hotels & Resorts and Kimco Realty Corp., and she serves as a senior adviser at real estate venture capital firm Fifth Wall

When she officially succeeds board Chair Laurence Chapman in August, Hogan Preusse will become one of the few women atop data center industry mastheads. The industry has drawn criticism for what many say is a widespread failure to recruit and promote women. Her appointment is particularly notable in that she will lead one of the giants of the digital infrastructure space. With 290 facilities in 26 countries, Digital Realty is second only to Equinix in the scale of its global footprint. 

“These changes align with Digital Realty’s longstanding commitment to strong governance principles, including refreshing Board leadership to balance fresh thinking and new perspectives with experience and continuity,” the company said in the release.

Hogan Preusse takes over the top leadership post at a time of significant uncertainty for Digital Realty. Data center REITs were one of the darlings of the public markets in the months following the coronavirus outbreak, but recent months have seen a growing sentiment that public markets — and perhaps the REIT structure itself — are less than ideal to meet the industry’s enormous development needs. Of the five data center REITs on public markets just a year ago, only Digital Realty and Equinix remain. QTS and CyrusOne were taken private by Blackstone and KKR, respectively, while CoreSite was purchased by tower REIT American Tower