Ctrl-Alt-Del: rebooting my career

After fifteen years in speech, language and Internet technology, I’m about to make a big career shift. Three weeks from now,  on February 22, I will join the ranks of the TeleAtlas/TomTom engineering force in the beautiful city of Ghent, on a permanent, full-time basis. My task: contribute to various process automation and improvement initiatives.

The reasons for this change are manifold, as they always are.

Firstly, I was craving to work (again) in an environment that blends innovation culture with a clear international dimension. Over the last five and a half years, I have had the chance to work on a number of international opportunities, ranging from the Beavis and Butthead Hotline to a project for a speaker verification company in Ireland. But in between, and all too often, I had the feeling to be missing out on much of the professional fun. This situation could not last forever.

Secondly, every now and then it’s good to enter a domain (geographical data management and applications) that is both new enough to be intellectually stimulating, and familiar enough to be digestible in a reasonably short time-frame. I’m very much looking forward to applying software development automation, process improvement and/or machine learning techniques in this new setting.

Thirdly, it will be great to have real colleagues again. However hospitable a customer’s working environment may be,  a freelancer fundamentally stays an outsider; however amicable relations with partner companies may be, there generally is no Big Plan or Strategy guiding your actions in a direction that goes further than your next assignment.

It’s not that we haven’t tried, as an industry. Since 2005, the Speech Technology Workgroup of ContactCentres.be have put a lot of effort into getting the speech technology business (back) on track in the Belgian telco and call center world. Our seminars in Diegem and Brussels have featured a number of local success stories. But the fact remains that the adoption of speech technology in this country has been slower than in the Anglo-Saxon world, Germany or France. A bizarre blend of overconfidence and lack of ambition from the major local players is one reason. Another one is the refusal of government agencies and state-run companies to programmatically open up public data for the innovative developer community (contrast this with data.gov and data.gov.uk).

Don’t get me wrong:  our industry pipeline does have a few high-profile speech projects coming up. But they won’t be for me anymore. It’s time to (let) go.

My life as a freelancer has brought me to some interesting (read: sunny) places like Silicon Valley, Mallorca and Cannes. It has also put me in contact with a number of smart and driven people who have made a difference to me. Special thanks, in no particular order, go out to Alain, Jean-Marc, Vincent, Peter, Vincent, Jon, David, Myriam and Patrick. We’ll be in touch.

And now for something completely different.

3 Responses to “Ctrl-Alt-Del: rebooting my career”

  1. Brigitte says:

    Hey Frederik,
    Ge gaat dat goed doen , weet ik zeker!
    Ik neem aan dat je weet dat Jan Verhasselt daar ook zit (of is het inmiddels “zat”?)
    En ach, navigatie en telefonie liggen niet zo ver uiteen…
    Succes met je verdere carriere!
    Groetjes, ook aan Barbara,
    Brigitte en co

  2. Philippe says:

    Hey Frederik,

    veel geluk met jouw re-boot! En welkom in de navigatie/GPS wereld ;-)


  3. Frederik says:

    Daar ik je al een tijdje niet meer hoorde begon in al iets te ‘vrezen’ !
    Veel succes met je nieuwe job !

    Ik heb met heel veel plezier met je samengewerkt ( en ben er van overtuigd dat het niet de laatste keer was….)
    Laat ons zelfs hopen dat we elkaar nog kunnen zien op even zonnige plaatsen !

    ALs ik iets hoor in de trend van : Druk 1 voor links of 2 voor rechts, dan weet ik wie er achter zit.


Leave a Reply