As a senior data analyst in NIRAS, Torben Kirk Wolf strives to effectuate work processes. Apps, business intelligence, and robotics may sound like complicated development projects – it must be time consuming and expensive to develop! But Torben can build an app in just one afternoon. This has been made possible through the development within Data Science, and Torben takes pride in developing solutions that are not too complicated, so he can pass them on to his colleagues – because Data Science can create value in all projects.
Torben originally graduated as a civil engineer within structural engineering. During his time as a student, he was always the one, who stuck around till late at night in the project room to optimize an Excel sheet. Since then, he has competed in the Danish Excel Championships, and when he got a job as a geotechnical engineer, he once again got the role as the Excel-expert, who exclusively worked with data-driven solutions across many projects.
When Torben started in NIRAS, he finally put his expertise within geotechnical engineering behind him. Now he is a full-time Data Scientist, and he is determined to establish an entire department dedicated to Data Science in NIRAS.
Why did you end up in NIRAS?
I had come to a bit of a slump in my career as a geotechnical engineer. Even though it wasn’t my impression at the first glance, I found that NIRAS is first of all very far in the digitalisation process. And second, that NIRAS is an organization with the courage to pursue new opportunities. We have software developers, PhD students within industrial technologies, and skills within machine learning, remote sensing, and much more. In my opinion, we are one of the most digital consultants, and that allows me to pursue the potentials within Data Science.
How good friends are you actually with Excel?
An evening a few years ago, I saw a Facebook post about the Danish Excel Championships. My first thought was; I do not want to do that! But it did intrigue me, so I tried to solve the first task for fun. When the deadline for the task approached, I was close to solving it. So I completed the task and sent it in. I came through to the next round – and when the same thing happened again, I started taking the competition seriously. I came further and further and finished at a shared 4-5 place. It was really exciting. I became familiar with new technology and thought; I have to use this!
What is your goal for digitalisation in NIRAS?
All of our systems have to be connected, and it has to be completely natural that we don’t need to print materials or copy data manually from one system to another. All of this needs to be automated, and we shall not flinch when we hear the word ‘database’. My vision for the Data Science department is that in five years, NIRAS will be the leading company in Denmark, when it comes to integrating Data Science in the work of the consulting engineer.
When did you know that you wanted to become an engineer?
Early on. I remember as a six-year-old talking to my parents about becoming a LEGO-designer, because I didn’t have enough pieces to build all the things I wanted. When I realized that it would be a short career, I decided that I wanted to be an architect instead. Then I found out that I am not good at being creative on command, so I decided at the age of ten that I wanted to be a structural engineer. And that stuck.
What makes a good day at work for you?
A good work day is one the does not look like the day before. I like doing many different things. It is a good day when I have my headset on and work with hardcore coding all day. But I wouldn’t enjoy spending all my days like that. It is also a good day when I help my colleagues in Environment or Building extract value from complex data sets. And client meetings might just be my favourite, when I can feel the appreciation for the work I do. In the end, that is what drives me: when I feel like I am creating value, I am happy.