Thorleif Thorleifsson

Meet Jean Niklas L'orange

Welcome to Maritime Optima Jean Niklas! Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Thanks! My name is Jean Niklas and I have a master’s in computer science from NTNU. I have formerly worked for both small and big IT companies: My first job was in Rendra, a small startup in the construction industry. My last job before Maritime Optima was in Vipps: I worked in the “core payments” team, where we produced and maintained code that over 3,5 million people use for paying friends and companies. Suffice to say, the needs and demands are quite different, and it has been enlightening to see both sides.

I’m above average interested in algorithms and data structures, which is what I specialized in during my master’s. I got so interested that I implemented several significant performance improvements to a rather recent (at the time) data structure for my master’s thesis. Nowadays, this interest is mostly reflected in my work as head judge in the programming competition IDI Open, an annual programming competition at NTNU.

In stark contrast to the rest of the team, I prefer forests and mountains instead of the ocean. Time will tell if this job and my colleagues will be able to change that :)

What do you hope to contribute as a full stack developer and scrum master of Maritime Optima?

My first and main focus is keeping the other developers happy and making them more productive, without neglecting the business side of things. That means I’ll be helping out creating a good software foundation so we can focus on the bigger picture. I’ll also work on automating mundane/error-prone tasks where it is sensible, and ensure learning and personal growth is a key aspect of Maritime Optima – whether that’s in-house presentations, attending conferences, good code reviews or something else.

In due time, I hope my interest in NP-hard problems will be helpful for route suggestions or planning – or whatever unique and valuable feature we see that our customers would love to have.

There are so many maritime digital initiatives and start-ups around - why do you find Maritime Optima interesting and what do you think is special with Maritime Optima?

I think Maritime Optima is in a unique position because of the composition of people: Not only are they great to work with, but we have experts in the maritime domain and a very good technical team. As both “sides” are very interested in learning more about the other, you end up with a team both able to comprehend the shipping industry’s challenges and being capable of solving some of them in a good way.

What programming languages do you feel comfortable working with?

While I do have 8 years of professional experience with Go, I’m most happy with functional languages like Clojure(Script), Haskell, Elm and OCaml/Reason. However, I’d argue that programming languages are less important for a good work environment than people believe: Great coworkers, the ability to grow as a person, and the possibility to clean up in old code are far more important.

What do you think might be the most important success criteria for start-ups?

This is a difficult one to answer, as there are many ways to grow a company and there is a lot of survivorship bias out there. However, I do believe people underestimate the value of employee retention: Being able to have both developers and non-developers with a deep understanding of the domain and the software system – along with its faults! – is super valuable. I also think it gives you the option to think even more outside of the box and even longer term.

What is important for you to stay on a team?

An important aspect of staying is motivation, and I think that’s largely driven by mastery and purpose. If I don’t feel I learn and grow in the areas I want to learn and grow, my interest will diminish. If I can’t see that my work matters, it’s not as interesting to work on it. A good team takes this into consideration for all of its members.

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