People & Culture
Added Nov 6, 2020

Q & A with Gustavo Sato dos Santos: Head of Predictions and Market Modelling

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Gustavo is Head of Predictions & Market Modelling at Vortexa, and has extensive academic experience in statistical modelling and applied Machine Learning. 

We wanted to drill down into what qualities Gustavo keeps a look-out for in new joiners, what have been his most significant milestones at Vortexa to date and what day-to-day life really looks like as Head of Predictions & Marketing Modelling... 


What inspired you to join Vortexa?

I had the opportunity to get to know the Vortexa team back when they were only 4 guys in a small office. I was intrigued about what they were building, as they were so excited about it and always seemed to be having so much fun. Luckily I was able to join the fun a few months later, and haven’t looked back since.

What would you say is the most interesting aspect of your role?

What I find most interesting is modelling what we know to predict what we don’t (yet) know. There is a huge amount of complexity in our data, and the challenge is to understand the nature of the data (including any inherent errors and uncertainties), formulate assumptions that reduce the complexity of the problem, and create a model that approximates physical reality as closely as possible.

 

''...we come to rely on every one of our colleagues and celebrate their effort and contributions because every individual can and will make a real difference towards our joint success.''

 

I enjoy all aspects of this work – from analysing the data and discussing its intricacies with our market analysts, to imagining and implementing new models. At the end of this process, it is extremely satisfying to see accurate predictions being generated by our models and becoming a useful resource for our clients.

What have been some significant milestone moments for you at Vortexa?

The first milestone was helping deliver our first-ever product, which was presented at our launch in 2017. It was a very intense and exciting period and I remember putting the final touches over a couple of all-nighters the weekend before launch day. Another significant milestone was releasing a much-improved vessel model about 2 years ago that was able to generate cargo movement data more accurately, greatly increasing the quality of our data products.

What does day-to-day life look like for you as Head of Predictions & Market Modelling? 

As the Vortexa R&D team grew considerably over the last year (and is poised to grow even more next year), my time is split between supporting the many ongoing R&D projects and continuing to improve our core system and models. We have several new products in the pipeline, and it’s always exciting to plan and work on these.

 

''...We work very hard because we know that we need to go the extra mile to create a truly unique and valuable product out of thin air.''

 

At the same time, we are always identifying new ways to improve the existing products and data pipelines, and it is also very satisfying to make steady improvements in our system. Although the time I have available for hands-on work is less than what it used to be in my early days at Vortexa, I still get to spend a good amount of my time doing what I enjoy most: analysing data and building new things.

What key qualities do you look for in new joiners hoping to join your team?

I expect new joiners to share our nerdy passions which, depending on the role, may be one or more of the following: machine learning, statistical analysis & modelling, software engineering & architecture, and other relevant technologies. By “nerdy passion” I mean that the candidate was not satisfied with having just the basic knowledge in that domain, but was instead driven by their curiosity and went on exploring far and wide, trying new shiny things, sometimes delving into minutiae and getting stuck in rabbit holes.

As a consequence of their nerdy passion, the candidate has reached a much deeper understanding of the domain, and is also eager to tackle new challenges that allow them to test the limits of their skills and acquire new ones. The candidate also enjoys sharing their ideas and insights, and knows that the only way to tackle large, complex projects is by working effectively with their colleagues.

How would you describe the culture at Vortexa?

From its very beginning, Vortexa has had a very open, transparent, “can-do” culture. We openly discuss problems and solutions and listen to everyone’s opinions, valuing them for their content and not for who voiced them. We work very hard because we know that we need to go the extra mile to create a truly unique and valuable product out of thin air.

 

''...it is extremely satisfying to see accurate predictions being generated by our models and becoming a useful resource for our clients.''

 

Being a start-up, each of us knows that we sometimes need to go out of our comfort zone to do what’s needed, simply because there may be no one else to do that job at that specific time. For the same reason, we come to rely on every one of our colleagues and celebrate their effort and contributions because every individual can and will make a real difference towards our joint success.

We also like nerdy jokes!

Describe your working life at Vortexa in three words! 

Meaningful, intense, fun!

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