How Vodafone missed out on our CTO - and why he is putting his faith in unicorns
It was all going so well for David Bochenski. He was in the third year of his Maths degree, he’d finished his final project and he had a prestigious graduate placement at Vodafone lined up. So how did he find himself working instead for a scheduling-optimisation start-up in Nottingham?
“My third year project was to write an algorithm to find the best moves in the children’s game Dots and Boxes” says Bochenski. “I’d always been interested in computers and thought coding would be a useful skill to have. What I didn’t know was that there was an international competition for computerised Dots and Boxes, and that I’d wake up after a particularly good student party having agreed to fly to Austria to compete.”
One silver medal later, local news coverage led to David’s winning algorithm being featured, ever so briefly, on the BBC national news website, where, during its fifteen minutes of fame, it was spotted by a French man with a vision and the ambition to revolutionise the Field Service industry. “It turns out that there is a lot of synergy between optimising Dots and Boxes and optimising scheduling. Laurent Othacéhé (now CEO of Cognito iQ) offered me a job” says Bochenski “and I’m still working for him today”.
Whilst this is broadly true, it overlooks the intervening years during which Bochenski honed the skills and experience that he brings to his role as CTO of Cognito iQ. Othacéhé’s original company, 360 Scheduling, was a pioneer in the adoption of the Amazon Web Services Cloud, which it used to introduce true real-time scheduling to field service organisations for the first time, transforming the way they operate to this day. Bochenski became an expert in how companies can leverage the Cloud, leading to him setting up a successful Agile software consultancy specialising in Cloud and DevOps technologies. Othacéhé hired him as consultant on a significant project with Cognito iQ, supporting us to deliver a cloud-based cross-platform solution to Hermes, one of our biggest customers. There followed a job with McKinsey, advising companies in all sectors on Cloud, digital transformation and DevOps. However, the opportunity arose to return to field service and Cognito iQ, and he joined us as CTO in April 2018.
Part of his role is to ensure we are consistently developing solutions which enable our customers to transform their service businesses. However he sees his role as being more about managing people “People think that being a CTO is all about the technology, whereas it is actually mainly about teamwork”. He says that one of the best things about working with Cognito iQ is the organisational culture: “it feels a lot like being part of a big family”.
His vision for the future of the sector is that field service companies, once early adopters of mobile, can be ahead of the curve again if they take advantage of advances in Cloud, IoT, machine learning and predictive analytics. Bochenski says “The companies that will win are those that know what to do with their data. We can learn a lot from the unicorn companies (start-ups worth in excess of $1bn) such as Uber, and the way they use data to drive continuous improvement through their businesses. The advice I would give to a field service company today is ‘Be more unicorn’.”
We’re thrilled to welcome David Bochenski (back) to the company, and we know that with him as our CTO, there will be exciting times ahead for our customers, our partners and everyone here at Cognito iQ.