Employee Spotlight with Carlo Wouters
Carlo joined BioStrand as Head of Technology in 2022, bringing with him over two decades of extensive ICT experience in areas such as Enterprise Architecture, Information Management, Integration Architectures, and Software Development. As a seasoned consultant/entrepreneur, he has demonstrated a solid ability to bring people, technology, and business together to successfully deliver highly complex data-driven integration architectures.
It is this proven leadership experience in achieving the perfect balance between people, technology, and business priorities that he brought to his role as Business Mentor at mentoring specialist firm Ambits. This was also the role, where he was looking to match his mentees with innovative companies, that first brought him into contact with BioStrand.
Carlo’s decades-long career spans a multitude of roles including university lecturer, researcher, data engineer, project manager, chief technology officer, partner, and consultant. As Head of Technology at BioStrand, his mission is to support a team of highly talented people as they reach for the stars.
This is Carlo
What motivated you to come work for BioStrand?
From my initial contact, I was able to sense the enthusiasm, ambition, and capability driving BioStrand. This convinced me to stay in touch with the BioStrand team and follow the company’s adventure more closely. Before I signed up for a full-time role, I worked for BioStrand as a consultant to really get to know the internal workings and the team I would have to work with. During this time, there were two key factors that convinced me. One, I quickly became part of a tightly knit management team, without egos or politics, only feeling appreciation. And two, I experienced first-hand the potential of BioStrand’s team of data scientists and engineers. I consider it an utmost privilege to be able to work as a member of the management team to support a team of such highly talented people.
How would you describe your role in the company?
In broad terms, my role is to support everyone that has practical questions in order to enable the delivery of innovative solutions, efficient processes, and happier people. In my experience running software-focused companies, this covers a range of technical aspects (making good architectural choices), application lifecycle management aspects (processes required to develop and release quality software) as well as people and team aspects (hiring, training, coaching, career management, etc.).
What is Lensai Technology about?
Well, the “What” of the company is to use advances in technologies to make life sciences research more cost-efficient, faster, and better than is possible today. This typically means switching from ‘in vitro’ processes to ‘in silico’, i.e. replacing lab work with computer models that can predict the outcome.
The “How” of the company is that we use patented ways of efficiently bringing all kinds of data (sequences, structural, natural language, …) together so that better all-encompassing models can be built. The innovative way that we intertwine all this information allows for entirely different ways to approach problems but facilitates new approaches to optimize computational complexities. In some ways, this is like the difference in the problem-solution approach of a quantum computer as opposed to a traditional computer.
What happens next in the Lensai journey?
Peering into my crystal ball I see us having a couple of years where we continuously improve various processes around IPA and our customers. Some of these improvements will be incremental yet significant, while others will have the potential to disrupt entire fields. Given the importance of the life sciences sector, our focus will always be on creating a proven, trustworthy, and high-quality offering. After that, I expect we will start sharing these mature services with the entire world, in the form of SaaS (Software-as-a-Service). The only thing uncertain is the timeline, which may be significantly shorter depending on what we discover and can predict.
What do you see are the biggest challenges facing data-driven businesses in 5 years?
Oh my, where to start? We’ve only scratched the surface of what proper Data Governance would look like in terms of tooling in a complex ecosystem of microservices-based architectures. Our ability to achieve robust all-encompassing metadata management will provide the foundation to comprehensively address issues related to compliance, maintainability, automation, security, etc. I'm pretty sure that this will keep us occupied for years to come. And that’s not even talking about the ‘information overload’ problem, which will only get increasingly difficult. For instance, how do you determine what ‘relevant’ information is in all the available data? I also think that the exponential increase in data, and the consequent computation challenges, will lead to more companies reconsidering their cloud-native policies in favor of more hybrid cloud-based strategies.
Another interesting trend to highlight is some of the research going into web3 (not the same as web 3.0), with Tim Berners-Lee leading the development of database technologies that incorporate some of the data privacy (GDPR) principles at their core. It will be interesting to see how these developments will impact ‘traditional’ database technologies (relational, document stores, graph databases, etc.) and the abstraction/access layers on top. In short, we won’t get bored anytime soon!
What have you enjoyed most so far about working here?
Feeling useful sharing whatever knowledge I have, and gaining so much knowledge from others. With every question I get and we discuss, I have the feeling we are moving forward as a team and as a company. What really stands out for me is how people really listen to what is being said, and that office politics and egos are never protagonists in the discussions. That in turn makes me feel immensely appreciated, sometimes discovering I apparently can have added value in areas where I didn’t even think to have any.