An interview with Mads Navntoft Noe, Senior Software Engineer

How long have you been with UNSILO?

I’ve been at UNSILO for three years – before UNSILO, I was with a much larger software company.

So you have a preference for large or for smaller companies?

I appreciate being able to get things done rather than go through piles of bureaucracy. Here you have to take responsibility yourself to make sure a project succeeds. You can’t just blame upper management. On the contrary, here you are given a free hand to make decisions you can support, and have the privilege to work with skilled and passionate people.

Here at UNSILO I am responsible for the front-end architecture, and I can make my own architectural decisions. Of course, these decisions are often a result of real-life compromises, and you discuss the decisions with other members of the team, but it’s important for me to solve the problems in a way that I can believe in.

How does what you do differ from the machine-learning team?

We are a lot of different people at Unsilo, with different competences. Front-end development does not involve complicated maths. Instead, the challenges lie in handling many concurrent events, and managing differences between partners.

Concurrency and configuration management requires a lot of structure and discipline, which matches my work style well. Lower in the stack, especially when dealing with NLP (natural-language processing) and varying data quality, based on the content we are given to work with, things can get more chaotic.

Other competences that are important for front-end work include those of a “softer” nature, like UX (user experience) and aesthetics. We brand our machine-learning people because that is what we are known for, but we also have a very skilled product team. The product team, which I am part of, has the task of making the content enrichment applicable to the real world.

We are still a young company in very new field which lacks tools for the users to make use of the enriched content. We need to challenge ourselves to determine how best to communicate these ideas.

What does your typical day involve?

At the moment my day is actually quite varied. In my current role, I do architecture and feature implementation, but also end up doing integration with the service layer, plus quality assurance and coordination in general. During the last year, I have had the opportunity to establish a solid foundation for our front-end architecture, which stands us in good stead as we scale up our operations and take on more clients.

What about your spare time?

My main spare time passion is zouk, which is a couple dance with elements from modern dance and various Latin American dance styles. As it’s a niche dance style, zouk expertise is widely spread. I have travelled to many countries to participate in dance festivals and workshops. How I guess dancing fits with software development is the creativity and “nerd” gene. My friends in the dance community have the same trait – we may look cool on the dance floor, but basically, we are just nerds who love to dive into even the smallest details and improve them.

I also sing in a university choir, Aarhus Universitetskor, when I have the time. It is an ambitious choir with a broad repertoire, but often with focus on relatively new choral music. However, since I started dancing, I cannot always find time to participate in all of the choir’s projects.

Where are you from in Denmark?

I am originally from Lemvig, in West Jutland. Just as we have varieties of character in people from different countries and cultures, we have also have people from different parts of Denmark, which is a good thing, as our different traits and viewpoints complement and challenge each other. There are cultural differences between east and west Denmark. People from the east tend to express themselves more “enthusiastically”, while people from the west seem more “down to earth”.

Can you think of something about yourself that others don’t know?

Not sure I can find anything they don’t already know – I love boring my colleagues speaking about myself…

Many thanks, Mads.

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