Niels van de graaf has been with us for 5 years
his amazing journey
In 2015 Niels van de Graaf joined us at IMAGEM as Market Manager for Government. His focus is to help government customers optimise their everyday processes using location-technology. Whlle celebrating his five-year anniversary, we asked him about his time at IMAGEM and his experiences.
How would you describe your role?
I am the Market Manager for Government and together with my colleagues we are constantly helping customers within the government to solve their problems and optimize their work processes by supplying location information. All government processes are linked to a location, so it’s only logical to apply location intelligence. I believe that IMAGEM helps the government to work more efficiently and effectively with its technology.
What is your background?
I’ve been active in the public sector for nearly twenty years. I started as a specialist in noise and vibration domains, specifically environmental noise, building acoustics and work safety noise. After this I moved to the IT sector. I worked for various engineering firms and large IT organizations. However, the large ICT organizations do not offer any specialism, so in 2007 I rolled into the geospatial sector. I worked here for about five years. The world of artificial intelligence had my interest, so for the following five years I worked in the world of knowledge automation, the automation of knowledge-intensive processes. And now I have been working at IMAGEM for five years.
What are your fondest memories with the IMAGEM team?
What I immediately think of is my first year and a half or two, in which we successfully marketed the M.App Enterprise technology in the Netherlands, together with my colleagues. With M.App technology made a major impact in the local geo-sector. Everyone was interested in how you can produce geo-information with this new way. No more GIS viewers.
What also stayed with me are the events, in particular the transition from our standard customer days to our annual Make Geospatial Matter conference in 2017. Especially the energy and fun that we have as a whole on such a day.
And of course HxGN LIVE [the conference of partner Hexagon AB] in Las Vegas. It was great to attend breakout sessions with colleagues and customers, to brainstorm, and of course the fun we had there.
Another memory comes to mind – the arrival of the Luciad portfolio, 2 years ago. A new 3D technology, which represents the physical reality in digital form and supports work processes. With this, IMAGEM has taken the step to give meaning to digital twin in the Netherlands and the added value this technology offers the government.
What drew you to this job?
Firstly, the M.App technology. When it was introduced, I saw a completely new way of geospatial information. It was and is something I really believe in. Smart M.Apps does something completely different from traditional GIS viewers or “databases”. With Smart M.Apps you create real location information: intuitive, interactive and understandable for everyone. I don’t believe in the GIS viewers anymore. It’s about information, not about data. In addition, I really wanted to use my years of knowledge and experience to let IMAGEM develop and grow.
What is currently your favorite project at IMAGEM?
At the moment it is our Environmental Act application. Together with the municipality of Almere, we are realizing a dream: to bring physical reality together with legal and administrative reality. In this way one can simulate different scenarios before they are actually implemented. Laws and regulations are automated and made applicable in a 3D copy of the physical reality.
What do you like about working here?
I find the mix between young and older colleagues very pleasant. And what really appeals to me is the innovative way of working here, with the ambition to help our customers. We constanly communicate to the market about innovative solutions that are alternatives to the “usual suspects” within the geo domain.
What achievements are you most proud of?
I am very proud of how we as IMAGEM broke through the market with the Smart M.App technology during the first two years. I am also proud of the increased visibility of IMAGEM in the market. Most people in our market now know that IMAGEM exists, but especially what we can do for them.
In addition, I am proud of how we can help our customers with location intelligence issues. Within the company I am proud of the colleagues and how we treat each other, we always have a good time. We challenge and help each other. We have a good mix of business & fun. In addition, I am extremely proud of the collaboration we have realized with, among others, the municipality of Almere, Capelle aan den IJssel and the police. It shows how we, together with them, have embarked on an innovation path that will soon help the entire government.
With which team member would you like to switch jobs and why?
I would like to switch with Walter [front-end developer] and Arjen [senior developer], because I don’t understand anything about programming, but I would like to learn it. I think it’s cool what you can create and do with programming. Anything is possible.
What is the first thing you learned within the company?
We have to be patient, not everything goes at the pace you want. Everything takes time, that’s something I’ve learned.
What three words would you use to describe your job?
If I describe myself and my role, I am an inspirator, motivator and advisor. I support my relations and colleagues by inspiring and motivating them with my advice.
If you could change one thing about the company, what would you change?
I would like to spend some more informal time with colleagues, such as more team outings or game nights together. In general, doing more things together after work. I would change that.
[This is unfortunately more difficult to organize with corona and we hope to do this more often soon!]
Who was your first desk-Mate? And whom do you sit next to now?
There were actually two, Dirk Voets and Mark van de Sant. Now my desk buddies are Patrick de Groot [Sales Director] and Mark Dunnewind [Inside Sales].
Tell something about yourself that not many people know.
In my teens I lived in Mallorca for two years. My mother moved there and we went along. We lived high in the beautiful mountains of Mallorca. I spoke fluent Spanish there, but unfortunately I forgot most of it. I only spoke English and Spanish there, so when we returned I had to learn Dutch again.
What many people also don’t know is that I am a born and raised Tukker [Twente]. I used to have a more rural accent than Herman Finkers’s. Fortunately, you don’t hear that anymore.