How long have you been working in the field of mathematical Optimization and when did you join Weoptit?
“I studied mathematics combined with computer sciences and software engineering at university and after graduation in 2010 I was drafted into a research group specializing in the field of vehicle routing problems.
I went to work in a software house for a couple of years after the research group left the university but in 2017 Pekka, who had been one of my old colleagues from my university time, hinted that Weoptit might be able to provide more mathematical software development work.“
Has it always been an interest of yours?
“I have always been interested in problem solving and since mathematics and optimization are usually the tools to use, the interest has come from necessity. However I have enjoyed using those tools and they seem natural to me. I didn’t have a clear career plan growing up (or even now for that matter) though and have selected things to study and where to work mostly based on a gut feeling when the opportunities present themselves.“
How do you explain to people (not so familiar with Optimization) what it is you and the company do?
“We make computers do things. 😉“
What impact do you think Optimization has or can have on the world around you?
“Generally, seeking Optimization possibilities is triggered by some necessity, ie. lack of some resource or distributing them to have more output from them. I think people are generally striving to improve their lives which makes them seek optimization opportunities both on a smaller and larger scale. Modern technology nowadays is offering even wider capabilities in solving very complex problems.“
What do you do in your own time to switch off and relax?
“I can usually be found near some sort of playing field either in a playing, coaching or spectating role. I have been a football coach for 17 years now and spend a lot of my time either coaching, playing or watching (ie. “studying”) the game. I also play, recreationally, a wide range of other sports such as floorball, disc golf, snooker, badminton…“
Considering your answer to the previous question, what team, excluding the obvious choice – QPR (no interviewer bias here), has been the most enjoyable to watch over the years?
“I actually paid a visit to Loftus Road to watch QPR play Newcastle back in 2015 – but not my obvious choice – sorry!
As football is just not a program on TV for me, the most enjoyable games to watch are always the ones that can be seen live (in person) from the stands of the stadium or from the sidelines of the field. So cycling to Harju to watch JJK play always has a special meaning to me and a different level of enjoyment.
From a coaches perspective, I always enjoy watching teams with clear identities and game plans, regardless of what they are. The Guardiola-era Barcelona was probably the pinnacle of the free-flowing short-pass game, the current Finnish national team is a perfect example of a cohesive team-working unit and Simeone’s early Atlético was an absolutely brutal counter-attacking battle machine. I generally don’t like watching teams that have been built by buying marquee players and then wondering how they will all fit on the pitch at the same time.“
What has been something you have taken away with you from managing a football team that has helped in your career?
“I think football team management is a perfect school for any business side team management too. The backgrounds in football can vary way more than in any business, as the businesses tend to hire people with similar educational or working history. Therefore it gives perfect practice for anyone’s people skills.“
What has been that one bit of advice/wisdom that you have carried with you through your life and career?
“In Finnish we have a saying Norsu syödään haarukallinen kerrallaan. Loosely translated The elephant gets eaten one forkful at a time – so to echo the words of Henry Ford, nothing is difficult if it is split into small enough pieces.”
What book are you currently reading?
“I’m currently reading “Football in Sun and Shadow” by Eduardo Galeano which I got for Christmas. It’s essentially the history of the sport written from a novelist’s point of view instead of a football journalist’s one. So far I have enjoyed it immensely.“