“I love to make things better.”
Mathematical optimization, Schober dynamics and …
“Wherever possible, I optimize, structure and plan. Effectiveness gives me pleasure and challenges my mathematical play instinct,” Andreas Häfner describes himself and specifies: “But that is not a compulsion. I also very much appreciate spontaneity; after all, sometimes planning makes no sense.” In fact, Andreas is also good for surprises, more about that later.
He has been working as a Data Scientist at Schober since January 2018 and ensures in the analysis team that data is turned into insights for effective marketing measures. In addition to standard applications, Andreas manages complex customer projects involving new data and complete analyses – geomarketing/geofencing, for example. The third area of responsibility: he is active in the universal data orchestration (udo) platform. To do this, he models data in udo so that users don’t need to study math and yet their customer interactions are tip-top. Is that madness already or just optimization at the push of a button?
The ambition awakens, but always nice and easy
But first things first: Andreas grew up in the Nuremberg region, about 10 kilometers from Nuremberg. He went to school here and, he says, didn’t stand out much in terms of performance until college. With friends he plays sports at that time – soccer, volleyball, table tennis – but also tries more exotic sports like archery.
“But then my ambition kicked in and I put more effort into it than before. And lo and behold, I was suddenly very good at many things that people had previously thought I lacked the talent for,” he recalls. Ambition is also important for him today. Ambition also includes discipline, so that “I achieve the best possible result,” he explains, adding: “Of course, you have to overcome your inner weakness every now and then and pursue your goals consistently. Even if discipline is important for the Franconian – both privately and professionally – it remains a means to an end to meet one’s own high standards. At the same time he is relaxed and easy going. He finds tolerance toward others self-evident. Whoever gets to know Andreas meets an open-minded person who can listen and likes to laugh.
Tinkering or the thing with mathematical optimization
With the college years, his interest in mathematics also blossoms, where his special talent shows. His teacher in the math advanced course encourages him and eventually motivates him to study business mathematics at the Friedrich-Alexander University in Erlangen-Nuremberg. Mathematical optimization and the sub-discipline convex optimization particularly excite him. This area of applied mathematics is concerned with finding optimal parameters for a complex system. Optimal means to minimize or maximize an objective function. That sounds too abstract? In his master’s thesis, Andreas deals with the optimal expansion of power grids. To do this, he creates models that relate parameters such as power poles, line paths, as well as physical conditions to align with a specific goal – such as minimizing maintenance costs. “It’s like a puzzle. You tinker, you model, and you’re happy when, in the end, the calculations fit together perfectly in practice.”
But he is also always concerned with diversity and exploring the world. Before graduating, Andreas spends a semester abroad in the USA. In Minnesota, he expands his professional and personal horizons, travels the country and enjoys student life. Back in Germany, he turns down the offer of a doctorate. Enough studies, Andreas wants to get into practice.
Schober, team spirit and Stuttgart
He will begin at Schober Information Group in January 2018. In principle, he would also have considered becoming an actuary in the actuarial field, but then takes the path of a data scientist in the marketing field. “Schober just has a lot of great and exciting data that I wanted to play around with,” he says, grinning, and continues, “The work is diverse, offers varied tasks and requires innovative thinking. So it suits me very well.” Another factor for him is the working atmosphere. The colleagues and the team spirit are super. “We support each other, and if there’s ever a hitch in a solution, brainstorming sessions help quickly.” The team, as you can quickly hear, is not limited to work. At lunchtime, they go to the gym together, play table tennis or foosball in between for mental refreshment, and they also like to drink a beer together after work, Andreas says. Because of Corona, however, there are no real commonalities at the moment; work is mainly done in the home office.
But he was also attracted to Stuttgart. After graduation, he felt like moving to a new city, and Stuttgart welcomed him well. After a stopover in Korntal-Münchingen, he now lives in Stuttgart Fasanenhof, close to the office by bike. “Stuttgart is great and not too far from my home in Nuremberg. I like the big-city flair here, there’s always something going on, the city is lively,” says the Franconian Swabian by choice. Nevertheless, he remains closely connected to Nuremberg: Friends, family, Nuremberg’s old town, three in the Weggla and many more things that you simply don’t forget so quickly; even in Stuttgart. And so he is also regularly in the old homeland.
Schober Dynamik: Always new, always innovative
Real dynamism and insane potential – these are the terms Andreas uses to describe his job at Schober. Above all, the possibilities of mobile data and the accompanying depth of information challenge his mathematical play instinct. And as a Data Scientist in the analytics team, it is precisely his job to bring together traditional and new data, proven and new analytics methods, analog and digital worlds for the benefit of customers.
Since his start, he has managed various client projects – from classic profile analyses and scoring to geoprojects such as catchment area analyses or visitor projections to very complex topics. But the development work on the universal data orchestration (udo) platform is particularly innovative: not everyone has the skills of a data scientist, but in the data-driven economy, everyone needs these skills. And this is exactly where udo comes in, because the platform provides all the necessary prerequisites and models practically at the push of a button. This is the case, for example, with the water specialist bevo, Andreas tells us. “Visualizations and programming and putting together dashboards have been the coolest part for me here, by the way, because it makes the benefits and insights from the data immediately visible. I love making things better!”
No, really? An American in Stuttgart
For all his mathematical precision and planning, Andreas is also spontaneous and good for surprises. In the background interview for this portrait, he provides – after about two hours of conversation – a completely different piece of information: His life has taken a very decisive turn privately with his studies abroad in the USA. In addition to university, country exploration and sports, he met and fell in love with his wife Angeles there. Initially, both of them were still prepared for a long-distance relationship, but half-measures are not to Andrea’s taste. And so the two have already been living together in Stuttgart for more than two years, have been married for a year and dream of owning their own home.
Otherwise, they enjoy what the city has to offer – meeting friends, going to the Volksfescht on the Wasen, to the Weindorf or other festivals in Stuttgart. If that can’t happen, sports, video games or series (currently “The Mandalorian”, for example) are on the agenda for relaxation.
Made to laugh for the bet
And what makes Andreas laugh? He doesn’t hesitate for a moment: “My wife. But we will never agree among ourselves who is funnier and who makes whom laugh more”. So it’s optimal: “She makes me laugh almost as much as I make her laugh,” he comments with a broad grin