Employee Spotlight | Ole Kristensen’s 25 years at EIVA
With EIVA’s 40th anniversary this year, we are taking a moment to acknowledge the contribution of one of our most long-standing colleagues, EIVA Software Manager Ole Kristensen, who has been with the company for 25 years.
Having been employed at EIVA since February 1993, Ole Kristensen has built a career as software developer of solutions for the maritime survey and construction industry. Reflecting the evolving scope of EIVA’s activities, Ole’s time at the company has been focussed on development of a broad range of tools, from navigation aids to systems for subsea data acquisition, processing and analysis.
Such is the impact of Ole’s contributions to the company, it is fair to say that the totality of EIVA’s current line of software products has been conceived of, built, developed, and refined under his expertise and sage guidance.
Entering the maritime industry
With an MSc in mathematics and computer science, Ole joined EIVA in 1993 after a five-year stretch as a telecommunications software developer at 7-Technologies (now Schneider Electric).
Aside from his father’s work as a fisherman, Ole held little experience at sea nor any particular call to maritime work, but a simple newspaper advertisement set him off in the direction he was to make his career.
Times were different back then. At that time EIVA remained a fledgling software company – with just fifteen to twenty employees on the books as Ole remembers it. It is worth noting as well that applied computer science, the fundamental basis for Ole’s work, was rudimentary at best, relative to what we see today in the research and development labs of EIVA. The developments that were to unfold in this context over the course of the subsequent 25 years as Ole says, ‘have been fundamental to the activities, growth and success of EIVA.’
‘Building on new science and new technologies, to benefit the maritime survey and construction industries, is the driving force to all that EIVA do and always has been. It’s remarkable how technology has changed since I began at EIVA, and I believe we have done well to capitalise on all that it has to offer.’
Programming at sea
Although much of Ole’s time was devoted to scripting at the computer, his responsibilities afforded him frequent secondments out of the confines of his office. To be sure, extensive travels over the years have led to Ole’s expertise and experience being shared around the globe.
‘One of the first substantial projects I was involved with was NaviScan (our sonar acquisition software). The project began sometime in that first year. EIVA had bought a laser multibeam sonar system for our rental pool, but we didn’t have any software to handle it, so we had to develop something new.’
‘Around March-April we boarded a vessel to test the software; we sailed from England across the North Sea to Mongstad in Norway. I was told to bring clothes for a week...I didn’t get back to land for five weeks.’
A sign of the times, Ole commented that the NaviScan software was running on a DOS platform and hardware with just 1MB of RAM available. ‘It meant we had to be very efficient in terms of how we used what little bandwidth we had!’
Still, it was sophisticated in its own rights, and as Ole remarked, ‘It was more or less the first piece of commercial software written for multibeam sonar. Today it looks old fashioned of course, and the accuracy for time tagging was 50 milliseconds, whereas now we work at 15 microseconds – but it worked well.’
An early version of EIVA NaviScan running on two PCs, one with DOS and another with Windows 3.10, on one of Ole’s early sea outings.
Iterations and change with the rise of the digital era
As it does, time passed by and the years ticked away.
‘One morning I woke up, around 2000, and I had ‘Software Manager’ on my business card,’ says Ole. ‘The company had grown up a lot and product range had expanded massively by that time. I became much more involved in administration and project development.’
As the internet dawned, its unbounded possibilities made their presence felt with significant shifts in the work of EIVA. ‘In earlier years we were much more focussed on markets in and around Denmark; Norway, France, countries around the North Sea and so on. But back then marketing was all done in the real world, on paper, in trade journal adverts, and at exhibitions – that all changed with digital opportunities, and we began to reach further afield.’
EIVA still holds its headquarters in Denmark, but now operates from offices in Germany, the Philippines and, most recently, Brazil. Extending EIVA’s strategic footing further still, a growing number of companies – including the recent addition of GBT – act as formal EIVA representatives.
As the digital era unfolded, great advances in computing power and sensor technologies opened the doors to a whole new league of maritime survey and construction solutions which greatly impacted and are now plainly evident in EIVA’s product lines.
Ole observes: ‘Very rapidly we began working with more powerful hardware and much more data. That meant building software capable of harnessing that data and delivering more meaningful insights. It’s really incredible what we’re now capable of, and it’s been fun to see how that which was theory back in the day is suddenly reality in today’s workplace. I think that’s one of EIVA’s strengths – we push that advancement.’
In parallel to diversification of EIVA’s offerings to the maritime supply chain, its staffing diversified too, and we now host employees from more than a dozen nations.
The appeal of EIVA
Ole is not alone in having remained at EIVA for many years – something that begs the question as to what kept him at the company.
‘Throughout my time at EIVA, aside from enjoying programming and development of new solutions, I have always enjoyed that my work kept me close to company partners and customers. I think this is because we’ve always been careful to listen to customers and respond appropriately. All projects are different, and so in building software (and hardware) we work to deliver solutions which can be well applied across different and varied circumstances.’
‘Being a relatively small company, we’re flexible and can be quick to adapt to customer needs as well as new technologies. That keeps things exciting for me.’
Relatedly, Ole explains how growth of EIVA in departments outside of his own in software has kept things fresh. ‘In more recent years, EIVA’s efforts to support customers has expanded greatly. For instance, in offering NaviSuite eLearning courses. It’s a very appealing characteristic of EIVA.’
An early version of EIVA NaviScan running on two PCs (one DOS and another Windows) of the sort Ole worked on in his earlier days at EIVA.
While nothing is as constant as change, some aspects to his work have endured. One of Ole’s first events at which he represented EIVA was Oceanology in London. ‘I first attended the event in my second year at EIVA and I’ve been going to it ever since – I don’t think I’ve missed a single one. That event certainly got bigger come to think of it. It’s a small enough community, even now, that to this day I still see some familiar faces. Even the competitors are friendly!’
As Ole’s work continues, so too does that of EIVA. We endeavour to remain a company at the forefront of maritime solutions, and at the same time, one that cares deeply for the commitment of its employees, who, like Ole, go above and beyond in their work.
Offering a closing remark, Ole says: ‘Friends sometimes ask me if I never had ambitions outside a single company. Twenty-five years is a long time, but it’s almost the contrary. As long things are moving forward, inspiring, and worthwhile, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.’
We look forward to the next 25-year work anniversary we can share with you, but until then you can stay updated on EIVA’s activities at eiva.com, on LinkedIn, on Facebook and now on Twitter (how the times do change!).
Ole at work behind a more modern computing set-up.
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