Get to know Arne Vanhoof
Arne Vanhoof is a seasoned data professional with 13 years of experience. As the Managing Partner at Aivix, he combines his passion for data with business & people development. Arne’s transition to Aivix was driven by a desire for a more fulfilling career. With a focus on employee well-being and a collaborative partnership with Tom (Aivix’s technical lead), Arne contributes to the company’s growth. Aivix offers a close-knit atmosphere, exciting projects, and opportunities for personal and professional development, making it an exceptional place to work.
How long have you been working in the data world?
I graduated in the summer of 2010 and started working in September 2010. I studied Business Engineering – Management Information Systems. So, I now have almost 13 years of experience in the data world.
What job did you do before this, and what was the trigger to change?
Well, let me take you back in time. I spent just under three years working for one of the “Big 4” corporations. I met our colleague Geert there, and somehow, we both made the decision to quit the Big 4 at the same time. I didn’t feel quite at home in a ‘Big 4’. I felt more like a number and still longed for a smaller company where I could pursue my interests more fully. . Geert decided to start at Cubis and I went to another analytics consulting firm.
But after nine wonderful years, I yearned for more. I felt as though I had hit the company’s ceiling and was becoming bored with the primary technologies, which motivated me to study something new. So, in 2021, I made the decision to pursue a postgraduate AI degree. I was particularly interested in discovering more about AI, data science, and data engineering. Learning new things entails personal growth, so as my outlook on the future changed, I realized it was time to explore new possibilities. At that time, Wim & Jeroen were looking for a manager at their brand new company: Aivix, and from there I made the choice to make the switch.
Where, when, and how did you discover your passion for data?
Even before I started further studies, I knew I wasn’t going to do pure IT. I didn’t want to be only involved in the technical part and programming. Nor did I want to do something purely functional. I wanted to be able to combine the business and the technical part, being the bridge between business and IT. So, the interest in data has actually always been there. For me, it was very clear that it was the direction I wanted to go in.
Why the choice to study a Postgraduate AI? Why the choice to move from SAP to AI?
I have always been interested in AI. To really immerse myself in it, I decided to pursue the postgraduate degree. I felt this was really necessary if I wanted to continue in this field. My work-life balance was not ideal at that time though. It was very tough to combine this study with a full-time job, certainly during the exam periods. I took this postgraduate course from September 2021 to June 2022. And then immediately started at Aivix. As a result, I am now up to speed with the latest insights as far as AI is concerned. So, I certainly don’t regret taking that step.
How did you get in touch with Aivix?
I’ve kept in touch with Wim via Instagram for the past 10 years after my first application to Cubis. More in an informal way, especially to laugh with Anderlecht’s poor results. At some point, I went out for dinner with Wim again, there I mentioned that I was looking forward to something new, and Wim spoke about the idea of starting Aivix. All the pieces of the puzzle fell into place for me at that moment. The rest is history.
‘For Aivix, the employees are number one. If they are happy and feel good about themselves, it will also show in the work they deliver.’
How do you keep your work life balance under control as a Managing Partner?
I have the feeling I certainly can keep my work life balance under control. But I also don’t have children and also have enormous respect for those who combine it with children ;). My partner works a lot himself and has the same mindset as me. So, we are actually well matched. I always have to be able to look forward to a holiday, though. There is always a holiday planned that we can both work towards. But I am of the opinion: if you love your work, you also have no problem working hard and a lot. I enjoy going to work every day.
How is the collaboration with Aivix’ technical lead, Tom Thevelein?
Tom and I work together a lot; we also decide most things together. Tom is much more technical, especially when it comes to Data Engineering, while I am more of a people person. Tom will mainly take care of meetings with the customer which are more technical. I’m doing more account management and other things we divide between us. We complement each other perfectly. That is why the cooperation goes so smoothly. I am very grateful that I can further develop Aivix together with Tom.
What evolutions do you still expect within Aivix? How do you see Aivix growing in the future?
There are now 10 employees at Aivix. In September, four more graduates will join us, making 14. We would also like to recruit some medior and senior profiles this year.
What I have noticed is that there has always been more supply than demand on the market in terms of Data Science. What I see now is that there is much more demand for Data Engineers, but the supply is less. So, I do expect that in the future, there will be more and more market opportunities in Data Engineering.
‘It is good that you create a lot of dynamics in your team. Everyone looks at everything from a different angle, and so you also learn a lot from each other.’
What are Aivix’s main challenges at the moment? And how would you like to tackle them?
Seniority. We are a young and dynamic team. But we find that it is not so obvious to find medior and senior profiles within this industry. We always get the response, why switch to do the same thing? So it’s important for us to be able to differentiate ourselves and demonstrate the added value & culture of the Intellus Group. Hence, this year too, we would like to focus on recruiting more experienced profiles, who in turn can also share their knowledge with our younger, motivated team members coming out of school.
How do you invest in the development of your employees? How do you make sure your employees stay happy?
We make sure we speak to everyone every two weeks and follow them up closely. We really do keep in close contact with our employees. If there is a problem, or someone is not happy on their project, we will look for a solution together. I notice that this is also appreciated by our people. For Aivix, the employees are number one, it’s our capital. If they are happy and feel good about themselves, it will also show in the work they deliver.
What advice would you give to young professionals considering entering the data world?
Building a network is very important, it’s the number one tip I can give to young people. Keeping good contact with the clients you have been working with, with people you meet in this world, it’s so important to your career. Personally, it was also very important for me to finish all my work at the previous employer very nicely. The data world is very small and the chances of running into each other again are very real. So leaving somewhere with a good relationship, both to the company and to the clients, is very crucial for me. Of course, networking is one thing, but you also have to really keep in touch with these people. Send one another a message regularly, for example. And that does help for opportunities towards the future.
What is the most interesting trait you discovered about yourself during your career?
I worked in Munich for a year, every Sunday evening I went over there, every Thursday evening I came back. At times, it was tougher than previously thought. No one likes to leave their friends on a terrace on a sunny summer evening to catch a flight for work. That’s when I realized that being able to fall back on someone you trust is very important. My partner has been a great support for me. I am very happy and grateful that I had him with me to tell and vent my story to. So for me, realizing that my family and close friends are the most important thing, was a very interesting trait to discover.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
“It is important to create a healthy mix in your team. A mix of bachelors and masters, of men and women, of different character types and entities.” It is good that you create a lot of dynamics in your team. Everyone looks at everything from a different angle, and so you also learn a lot from each other. And that is something I have really experienced recently. It is so nice and important to have different characters in your team.
Why do you think someone should apply for a job at Aivix?
First of all: the atmosphere within the group is really great. A lot of activities are also organized: team building, sports activities, short ski, the Intellus weekend, … . I myself was very pleasantly surprised when I started here about how much is organized for colleagues. This is very nice, because it makes you realise that the group is very close, and everyone knows each other.
Secondly, our projects. We are working on very interesting technology stacks. You can gain a lot of knowledge and learn from a lot of people. Because we are three brands under one roof, there are a lot of technologies and a lot of knowledge that can be shared. You also get the chance to discover where your interests lie, what direction you would like to take in the future. You map out your further career path a little yourself. You are definitely not treated as a number, and I think that is very nice.