7 augustus 2019

Using Big Data to make the world sustainable

Giuseppe is Italian and works at Vandebron as a Data Scientist. Read more about him in this blog.

Giuseppe is Italian and works at Vandebron as a Data Scientist. Read more about him in this blog.

At Vandebron, you know from whom you buy your electricity. But there’s an entire office between you and your source, filled with more than a hundred people who are fully committed to change the Dutch energy market. All under the guise of one mission: to get towards 100 percent sustainable Dutch energy as soon as possible. And those people have a story, like Giuseppe. He is Data Scientist at Vandebron and comes from Italy.

How did you end up at Vandebron?

‘In November 2015, Aart (ed. Co-founder of Vandebron) came to give a lecture at the VU University Amsterdam. That’s when I first heard of Vandebron. It was Sustainability Day and the VU launched a project called The Green Office, an initiative to support sustainability in academic research and at our campus. I was very inspired by Aart’s keynote. At the time, I was a researcher in sustainability of IT systems at the VU, or Green IT. But I was also busy trying to find a way to use IT to improve the sustainability of existing businesses. So when I heard about Vandebron, I thought: this is a great example and a smart way of achieving a sustainable world with the use of IT. The same day, Aart and I spoke while we were having drinks after his keynote, and I came in contact with Giorgio (ed. Head of IT at Vandebron). When I came to the HQ for the first time, it was more to see whether there was a possibility for Vandebron to work together with my research group. But I already noticed that it was a nice company to work for. And eventually I came to work here on 1 March 2017 as a Data Scientist.’

 What do you do as a Data Scientist?

‘In my role, I am busy bringing Vandebron to a 2.0 version. And right now I am doing that with the Smart Charging project within Vandebron EV (Electric Vehicles). At the moment, it is still a pilot project with Tennet (the transmission system operator in the Netherlands and in Germany) and IBM, where we use Blockchain technology to balance the Dutch electricity grid. Also, I am very happy to say that this project has won an award this year!

Furthermore, my vision on my position and strategy within Vandebron is that no energy company is ready for the future if they do not make use of their data in a smart way. That means that if we, as Vandebron, are in control of our data, we can use its value to improve the services we offer to our customers. Otherwise, we simply cannot survive. I really like being our first Data Scientist, because it is a responsible role that will be very important for Vandebron in the future. I feel it, that healthy pressure haha.’

Is it different to work in a Dutch organization compared to an Italian company?

‘At first I came here to study, as a researcher. I did my PhD partly here and partly in Italy. But I can say: yes, the Dutch working environment is very much different. It is a “no bullshit” culture. The Dutch are very direct in their way of communicating, and the more so in a business environment. I really like it. I don’t really like formalities and to much hierarchy within a company. Certainly in that case, Vandebron is an exception. It’s way more informal and non-hierarchical compared to other traditional Dutch companies. In my opinion, that is the biggest difference between Italy and the Netherlands.’

 Your Dutch is really good too. How long did it take you to learn it?

‘The first Dutch language course I did was in 2014, my first year in the Netherlands. It is important for me to integrate. The Netherlands is a country that has given me a lot of opportunities and I would like to stay here, so in my opinion it is respectful to at least learn the language. I find that very natural. And within Vandebron, I can practice my Dutch too. Sometimes I make mistakes and it is not perfect yet, but that’s something for the future.’

Do you have a sustainable lifestyle?

‘Yes I do. Actually, sustainability is one of the most important factors in my lifestyle. Right now at the office where I used to work at the VU, there’s stickers of me above every light switch saying: “Have you turned off the light?”, because I always said that when we left a room. For them, I am the reminder of sustainability haha. Also, I do not own a car, I always bike, I try to eat as sustainable as possible and I separate my waste. Sustainability is the biggest motivation for me, within my job and within my private life. It is my cause.’

 What is the importance of sustainability to you?

‘The first thing that pops up in my head is: for our children. That is the biggest reason why we have to make the world sustainable as soon as possible. I do not have children yet, but I want to. Also, I believe sustainability is an evolutionary principle. If we want to survive as a species, we really have to live more sustainable. Climate change can be the first reason why mankind can go extinct. So I cannot think of any other more important principle than sustainability.’

Geschreven door Jacqueline de Vent Escalante

Jacqueline de Vent Escalante, voormalig copywriter bij Vandebron

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