Frank – Solution Consultant
My week started excitingly with my first visit to one of our new customers; a Dutch tour operator. At this customer we are going to implement a revenue management solution that will enable them to prize their products (holiday packages) in an optimal way. Additionally, we will help them gain insights in their data. The projects started this week, so at this point we are mainly focused on getting the requirements and expectations of the customer clear. My job: to capture these requirements in a domain model, which then can be used for the configuration of the revenue management solution.
On Tuesday, we had the formal kick-off of the project in which the whole team was introduced. This marked the real beginning of the project. Such a kick-off is always exciting, because of the positive energy everyone has when starting a new project.
After the kick-off, I spent some time working on a side project where we built a tool for a major airport. This tool takes the schedule of the check-in desks (flights assignment to desks including check-in time windows) and creates a schedule to control what is shown on the displays above the check-in desks. This was done by hand, a labor intensive process which is now automated.
I had a special and exciting experiment planned on Wednesday. For a costumer we will be using facial recognition data. My job on this day: find out if you can get the facial recognition software working on a machine of the customer. Unfortunately, it proved that this was not possible due to a difference in processor architecture of the customer’s machine and the libraries for the facial recognition software.
The fourth day of the week, Thursday, I spent again working on the revenue management solution for the travel operator. I dived into the data to see what the possibilities are and how we should proceed with incorporating that into the model.
In the afternoon, we had a so called business unit meeting with the whole ORTEC Consulting department. In this meeting some nice presentations were held by both ORTEC employees and guest speakers. After the meeting we had some drinks in the sun, which marked a great ending to a good day.
My week ended like it began, visiting the tour operator again. It is our experience that working onsite with the customer is invaluable to a project. It makes it much easier to ask questions to a customer, brainstorm and more. Apart from that, it is of course nice to meet new people and work in new places!
Gerwin – Business Consultant
One of the major pros of working at ORTEC are the opportunities you get. I have been able to develop my knowledge and skills rapidly, in different roles. I think it’s hard to find an organization where I could have developed myself at the same pace. From day one ORTEC puts trust in your talent and capabilities and gives your responsibilities, which also means that you need to be able to work autonomously and take initiative.
After my graduation from the TU Delft at ORTEC – for which I developed a modelling tool to configure optimal warehouse lay-outs, still used today -, I started working as an implementation consultant. In that role I have worked on implementations in France and the UK. Being on site there, really bringing the system to live and operational, working together with the customer and interacting with the other parties involved is hard work but great to do. The team work, the dynamics and the tangible results are things I really like and give great satisfaction.
In my current role as business consultant there is no such thing as ‘a typical work day’. I might be analyzing customer data at the office, meeting new prospects at an event, learning about Artificial Intelligence at a lunch-lecture, in a conference call with colleagues at the kitchen table at home or presenting an intra-logistics solution design at a customer. My main role is to translate customers’ goals and needs in a solution design. What I like about it is that it requires both hard thinking and cracking your brain – to fully understand the problem and to find creative solutions – as well as social- and communication skills in the interaction with the customer – having the best solution doesn’t equal winning the contract –
Working at ORTEC means working with the smartest people to solve the most challenging puzzles. I enjoy working in an environment full of bright minds who challenge your own thinking. And although ORTEC people are truly authentic and unique, I think there is some shared DNA: an innovative mindset, a bit geeky, down to earth and simply helpful and friendly.
Leendert – Manager Software
I have been working for ORTEC since May 2010, and with great pleasure. I started my ORTEC career as an OR engineer, in which I was responsible for the development and implementation of algorithms for optimization problems within ORTEC’s vehicle routing and scheduling software. This work fitted perfectly with my master studies Applied Mathematics at the University of Twente, and my PhD Research at the Industrial Engineering department at the same university.
After a number of challenging projects, I got the chance to enhance my impact on the organization by leading a small team of OR engineers. The first thing I did as a team lead was to invite the team to express their thoughts on what they think we should work on. I collected this input, and presented it to the ORTEC Software Development (OSD) board. I immediately learned that such initiatives are highly appreciated at ORTEC: we could start executing all projects, and the people of the team were highly motivated to work on these projects, since they contained their own proposals.
Another important step I took was during a tough project in which the chosen algorithmic solution unfortunately did not work well. In such situations, there is a big temptation to keep on working on the algorithm to get it working against all cost, especially when you have invested already a lot of time and energy in it. However, we dared to change course, and started a completely new solution approach. This step saved the project and even turned out to become the foundation of a completely new version of our vehicle routing and scheduling algorithms, which is both the most complex and the largest optimization component of all ORTEC’s standard solutions.
In my current position as a manager software, I divide my attention over roughly two things: 1) leading a department of 30 people divided over 5 development teams, and 2) setting the algorithmic roadmap within 4 of ORTEC’s standard software packages. The first part of my job asks strong interaction with and attention for people, which is a fascinating challenge, since every person is unique. I hereby strongly focus on redirection instead of controlling, such that the people have an optimal working environment for developing themselves.
The second part of job asks, next to a large share of pragmatism (after all, we solve ‘real’ problems in practice), also a strong in-depth OR knowledge. Therefore, I collaborate a lot with people from academia. For example, I am involved in two research projects with Dutch universities, we continuously have several master students doing their master project within our development teams, and I visit at least one scientific conference per year.
The combination of management and contents is a challenging one, I really have to capture my agenda. However, if this is a natural habit, then you can achieve a lot of nice things within ORTEC. And the really fun thing about working at ORTEC is that it is like visiting a playground full of OR challenges, every day again.
Pieter – Business Consultant
After finishing my PhD in experimental physics I started working at imgZine as a business consultant. ImgZine, which is part of ORTEC Living Data, offers a smart communication solution for large companies. This publishing platform feeds personalized content to apps, websites and other channels, and is driven by algorithms using natural language processing and machine learning.
The job consists of determining how our technical solutions can be applied to the specific situation of a customer. This is a very dynamic position, one moment you are in a meeting on the 26th floor of the Rabobank office, the next moment you are digging through thousands of lines of code looking for a bug.
I often get the question why I didn’t continue my career in physics. While my work is no longer about atoms and lasers, the analytical way of solving problems is very similar. The laws of physics are replaced by the business rules and algorithms in the software, and instead of measuring the quantum state of a particle, we try to measure customer engagement. By thinking, analyzing data, and making models we try to understand and predict processes in the best possible way.
ORTEC is a very nice company with many young, smart, and authentic people. Specifically, the division Living Data in Amsterdam has a real start-up atmosphere with a strong team spirit where you can quickly get a lot of responsibility. Together we have to make the company successful, but in the meanwhile there is always some time for a game of table tennis.
Arno – Data Scientist
After my finishing my master’s degree Operations Research and Quantitative Logistics in 2014, I started working for ORTEC Consulting as a Data Scientist. Currently I am part of the Advanced Analytics & Optimization team. When describing my job in a couple of words, I would say: challenging, varying and above all a lot of fun!
A typical day starts with a good cup of coffee with one of my colleagues. It’s always nice to catch up and see what everyone has been up to. One day I was talking to my manager and he said: “I have a nice case for you. One of our customers wants to be able to predict demand for their products more accurately. We’ll have more information this afternoon.”
Later that day I received a USB stick: “This contains all available sales data over the past three years. Can you analyze this and see if you can find some interesting insights?”.
In our team we call this Exploratory Data Analysis. We analyze the data with R or Spotfire and look for high-level insights. How many customers do you have? Where are they located? What kind of products do they buy? This process is very important and often consumes a fair amount of time.
After this first analysis, we go to the customer together to present the results in an interactive session. In this meeting, we show the most interesting parts of the data and the possible quick-wins we identified. It’s very nice when a customer recognizes your results and can relate the numbers to the underlying business operations.
The purpose of such an interactive session is primarily to determine next steps. For this particular case, we ended up building a predictive algorithm that is still used on a daily basis.
The beauty of working with ORTEC is that the case discussed above is only a small part of the all the things I work on. In addition to working on projects for clients, you also get the opportunity to develop yourself. For example, to learn a new programming language or to work with a new innovative tool. Last week I did my first job interview with an applicant and in two months I will accompany a graduate student. Nice, right?
Anne-Jette – Software Engineer
During my study Econometrics and Operations Research in Groningen I got introduced to ORTEC. I always knew that after my study I wanted to do something with OR, because I found (and still find) it very interesting to solve logistic puzzles. By attending presentations and workshops from ORTEC I got a good overview on what this company stands for, and this also gave me the opportunity to experience the atmosphere at the office. They both really attracted me. ORTEC has a very pleasant, informal ambiance, and a strong collection of software products that can optimize logistic processes in a wide range of markets.
Since the end of 2009 I am working as a software engineer on the Product Development department. I started working on a product to optimize load building of containers, and after a few years I switched to a product that optimizes routing for trucks. As a software engineer I mainly write code, but over the day my activities are very diverse. For example: designing, testing, documenting, discussing or implementing. And when I am actually writing code, the topic can vary also. For example last week I added new functionality to the user interface, while this week I am writing code to let the user interface communicate with our algorithms, to present the computed solution to the user. The variation in activities makes my work challenging and diverse. Therefore I find my work very interesting, since I like to see how to solve complex puzzles and how you can present the solution clearly to the user.
As I mentioned before, the ambiance within the company is very pleasant. Colleagues are always willing to help each other, and to let you know that your work is appreciated. And very important: there’s always room for humor! We work in small teams, where communication and cooperation are important. Together we work on a larger goal: creating a product that can really make a difference for our customers.
Finally I’d like to mention that ORTEC offers its employees a lot of opportunities to grow. There is a wide variety of roles to choose from: consultancy, software implementation, testing, support, design, .. And if you feel like you need a new challenge, there is always an opportunity to switch to another team or department. And there is budget to follow courses and workshops, both internally and externally, or to do internships at other departments.
Caroline – OR Engineer
When I studied mathematics at Utrecht University, I learned about discrete optimization. In particular, I enjoyed coming up with fast and scalable algorithms. At that point, I could only write them down on paper, but it seemed useful to be able to implement something as well.
That’s why, after I finished my master, I decided to take some computer science courses at Monash University (Melbourne). This gave me an idea of what it would be like to work as a software engineer. I chose ORTEC because I think logistics is an interesting application, and ORTEC’s software is very capable of handling that.
Today me and two colleagues discussed what new functionality we would like to add to the software. We have a couple of ideas on how to approach this. I immediately start implementing one of those ideas. A bit later, another colleague walks in: he tells me that he tested some code that I wrote last week. Unfortunately, it does not work exactly as intended. It turns out the situation is a bit more complex than we originally thought. But that’s what I like about it: when it does finally work, at least you feel like you had to use your brain. After I correct the code, I ask another colleague to check it. By having two people look at it, we reduce chances of overlooking something.
What I like about being a software engineer, is that you can really create something. If a customer wants his planning to take into account new properties, you make sure the software is able to handle it. If you then plan something, you see a different solution than before. I like that, the idea that somewhere in the world, a driver will get into his truck because of something that I just thought of.