Last Friday, our monthly meetup was held at Owlin’s Amsterdam office with approximately 50 attendees. Opening the meetup, Michael Brooijmans, business development specialist at Holland Fintech, gave a speech introducing the company and its ecosystem.
Rabih Alqawareet from Owlin, a real-time news analysis company based in Amsterdam, followed Brooijmans. His presentation covered a wide range of points, from what Owlin stands for to its database, which collects data from around 3 million sources worldwide. Answering the questions from the audience, Alqawareet explained that Owlin uses various ways to extract information from Internet, with word-matching algorithms being the simplest tool favoured in this regard. Francesco Puglierin, data scientist at Owlin, further added that they implement entity recognition, identifying patterns in a text to link those patterns when relevant.
Fireside chat on IT recruitment
Featuring Owlin’s Ralf Nieuwenhuisjen, Wouter Kleijn from Hack Your Future, and Rob Thenuissen from Algo Dynamix, the roundtable discussion offered fruitful and interesting insights.
The discussion began with the participants commenting on the challenges of IT recruitment in fintech. Thenuissen pointed out the difficulties in finding the right people and keeping them, while Nieuwenhuisjen directed the audience’s attention to the gap between people with financial backgrounds and people with IT backgrounds, in terms of various work-space manners, and the importance of building a bridge between them. Nieuwenhuisjen was of the opinion of hiring junior persons in case the product in question was an uncommon one, as “juniors succeed better” with such products. According to him, “it’s not only what they can bring, but also what they can learn”. On the other hand, Kleijn shared his views on the importance of hiring smartly, such as investing in young talent, so they can be educated professionally. Such professional development later reveals itself when young people come up with new technological solutions.
Moving forward to the second question of the round-table discussion, the participants shared their views on the challenges and advantages of having a diverse hiring policy. Referring to the studies showing the benefits of gender diversity in the workspace, Kleijn also added that the more an organisation is willing to target global customers and partners, the more that organisation should be interested in hiring globally, as foreign employees’ exposure on the organisation’s website affects the viewer, who might be a future customer or partner. Kleijn illustrated that one of the biggest partners of Hack Your Future appreciates the fact that Kleijn and his team help refugees. On the other hand, how a majority of companies remain unaware of the benefits of hiring refugee remains a challenge.
Moreover, Nieuwenhuisjen believed that having a common communication language within companies -such as English- was advantageous. He shared that people got less emotional when they were not speaking in their native language, which yielded in more intellectual honesty and less misunderstanding. Nieuwenhuisjen also believed that it was wise for an organisation to hire outside of the Netherlands, if that organisation was selling products outside of the country.
Finally, participants discussed ways toward building and maintaining a diverse team. Recognising the challenge of keeping employees satisfied, Thenuissen shared some of his experiences concerning when he realised his need to be heard, and his wish to have a discussion with his employer. Agreeing with Thenuissen’s views on the need to be heard, Nieuwenhuisjen contributed that it is also important to help employees realise, in an open and egalitarian way, that the team also mattered. Furthermore, according to Thenuissen, there was another point more important than the need to be heard, which was having a vision. “If you have a vision, there is a way to go, but if you don’t have one, it’s hard to keep people”, he claimed. Finally, according to Kleijn, the answer was the commitment and vision of the employees.