Employee Spotlight: Silja Polvi-Huttunen, Senior Software Developer

Nov 8, 2021 3 min

“To solve real-world optimization problems with super nice and smart people”, answers Silja Polvi-Huttunen, our Senior Software Developer, without hesitation when she’s asked what the most inspiring thing about her work is. 

Being part of a team that develops solutions to real-world problems humans face in their daily lives first piqued Silja’s interest in RELEX almost six years ago. 

“When I was looking for a new job, I compared different options in the software industry. I think that many jobs in some other industries solve sort of self-invented problems. That kind of a job doesn’t sound meaningful enough to me”, Silja thinks back.

Silja’s perception of what kind of problems she could solve as a software developer at RELEX has matched with reality. 

“Grocery stores work every day, and everyone needs them. There’s a big impact on how the ordered stock meets the demand and how much waste the supply chains generate. Our product can significantly reduce food waste generated by grocery stores by optimizing the supply chain”, Silja explains.

Silja’s team develops a demand forecast model for RELEX’s software. RELEX offers a unified solution, Living Retail Platform, with many different functions, but the demand forecast is in the very heart of it. Functions, such as shelf space calculations and workforce optimization, use the demand forecasts as an input to get the most accurate results.

“Demand can be affected by many things, such as the day of the week or the weather. For example, sales of ice cream, garden furniture, snow shovels, and barbecue food are affected by the weather, while milk and toilet paper are sold every day regardless of the weather”, Silja gives a simple example.

Working in a product company that offers flexibility and plenty of opportunities

Silja likes to work especially in a product company. She thinks being a consultant and working on changing projects wouldn’t sound like her thing.

“In a product company, you can find your place and work with a familiar community, code, and product. Some coders are like hunters who enjoy chasing after big catches in the woods. I’m more like a farmer who wants to watch our own product grow and the company prosper. It may not have the same excitement, but for me, this is the best option”, Silja smiles.

Work at RELEX is very flexible. There is a great deal of freedom in terms of working hours and habits. Everyone is allowed to do their job as they see the best. For example, as a mother of small children, Silja works a shortened week. 

“I was immediately supported in my decision to work part-time. It’s perfect because I love my job, but at the same time, I don’t have to miss out on anything else that is important in life”, Silja says.

There are a lot of opportunities to grow and make an impact at RELEX. Many move in-house to learn a new technology or develop a different part of the product. You can try different things and influence what you are currently doing.

“The best part is that you can make an impact if you have noticed that there’s something to improve. You can make your voice heard. Right from the start, my suggestions were taken into notice and improved right away”, Silja says.

The product is top-notch at what it does 

There is a lot to optimize in the retail industry. It might not be the first thing that comes to a developer’s mind that retail calculations are fascinating, though.

“Once you get acquainted, there’s plenty to optimize with machine learning models in this industry. Optimization problems are interesting and humane. Algorithms aren’t simple but truly challenging. We need the best talent in the industry to think about them to make an impact”, Silja thinks.

RELEX has developed its own in-house database, which is compelling for a developer. Its purpose is to make our work flexible.

“In some companies, an external database provider is used, so everything has to be adapted accordingly. We tailor the database to our own needs. It allows us to develop our product more holistically. In addition, the product is excellent, even the best in the world in this industry”, says Silja. 

“It’s inspiring to develop a product that is in an active development phase all the time. Maintaining something is boring compared to our work, which constantly evolves and requires new innovations.”