Mission teams, curiosity driven research and actioned insights - Working in Data Science at KONUX

Immo Söllner, Senior Data Scientist, 06.07.2023

Hey there! Who are you?

My name is Immo and I’m a Data Scientist at KONUX. My background is in physics and before switching to data science I worked in academic research labs for over 10 years. During that time I focused on problems in quantum optics, semiconductor physics, and their applications in quantum information science. At KONUX I currently work in a team that falls under the broader topic of Switch Health.

I’m passionate about understanding and deconstructing problems. In my opinion that is a prerequisite for reliably coming up with "simple" solutions. For me an important step towards enabling that is to develop a thorough understanding of the data generation process, which at KONUX means learning about our devices as well as acquiring the relevant railway domain understanding.

Can you tell us a bit about the set-up of the analytics team at KONUX? How are you organized, how do you work together?

Within KONUX we mainly work in mission teams. Based on the type of work these are often quite cross functional, where a typical team would include 2-3 Data Scientist. These missions can last from a few months to over a year.

In addition all Data Scientists are members of our Data Science guild. The guild is set up to establish best practices and ensure general knowledge sharing between all Data Scientist in the company. It also organizes other activities like our weekly journal club.

How is your role different from a similar one in another organization?

I really like that Data Science is a central part of the KONUX value proposition. This is also why we have "actioned insights" as one of our main metrics, which tracks how much our generated insights inform customer actions.

The phase that KONUX is in right now as a company is very exciting from the data science perspective. While we are very much still a start-up in the sense that there are a number of new products being developed and validated with customers in different pilots, there is also a part of our product line that is in the process of being adopted at scale. This leads to new types of challenges in our data science work that I had never experienced before.

It sounds like there is a lot to do, is there still time for curiosity driven research?

Yes! We have something we call moonshot time, which should correspond to about 15% of our time, averaged over the year. Here we have the freedom to spend time on crazy ideas that aren’t part of any existing roadmaps yet. Several times a year we have a Festival of Ideas where we have the opportunity to share these ideas with the rest of the company.

What do you love most about working at KONUX?

There is a critical mass of people that are personally invested in their work, care about getting stuff done the right way, and are not afraid of challenging each other in a constructive way.

Tell us more about yourself…

Some fun facts

I moved around a lot with my family growing up, never living in the same country for more than 5 years since I was a little kid, and graduated from high school in Norway.

Also, I got married to one of my co-workers at KONUX, 5 days after starting to work here (we had been together for 10 years at that point).