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Luis Lázaro: “Data will save our lives”

Luiz Lázaro in MMG's office.

Luis Lázaro is a software engineer, “a lifelong programmer analyst”, as he describes himself. However, he decided to switch from programming to data. And today, programming in the big data paradigm has become his battlefield. Luis started at MMG in the Artificial Intelligence Department, in the area that has been recently created: Big Data Research.

As he explains, “MMG wanted to enter this field from the domain of research”. From his point of view, the needs of the company and the profiles of the department are more oriented towards production than research. The department has recently reoriented itself, so at the moment he says: “You’re catching me in a rut”. Now the department has moved to IT to collaborate more closely with other critical parts of the software lifecycle. The goal is to collaborate between system administrators, Devops, and architects.

You could say big data knocked on his door. This field of programming and data processing, so trendy lately, came into his life through the Alfonso X El Sabio University. At that time, Luis Lázaro changed photovoltaic energy for data. After passing through IcoEnergía and in full search of employment, the university contacted him. His software department, CEDIANT, was looking for senior developer profiles in Java. They wanted to create a big data team to do research and consulting oriented to all kinds of sectors, but focused on banking. “In Keedio I met a lot of people who had extensive experience in big data and I learned a lot”.

Luis Lázaro spent 5 years in this project, where he met David González, and from there made the leap to MMG. According to him, he decided to leave Keedio because the work began to focus mainly on consulting and pre-sales. “Each time he dedicated fewer resources to ideas and internal products”, he says.

His experience with big data makes him think that it can be a business in health. However, he says the hard part is finding the model. “I don’t have a defined product in mind that I can say: this will revolutionise the sector,” he explains. “I think I’ve always had more analytical and problem-solving skills than creative, after all I trained with analysts”.

“In the case of banks, big data has given a lot of value to their data by exploiting them with the right tools”. “But it has also been a badly used tool, that is, because of my experience it was used for everything, because it was fashionable”, he says.

In his opinion, the same could be done in the field of medicine: to exploit the value of data. However, he raises a dilemma: to what extent can health data become a business? Luis Lázaro prefers to think that all this information will be used as a service to citizens and their health. In his opinion, “we are at the beginning of Big Data, and one day the data will save our lives, because we are at the dawn of precision medicine, thanks to Big Data”.

First steps, with the military

But his first steps in the world of work were not this way. His professional career began at Telefónica (Movistar), working for the Ministry of Defence at CIDA (Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo de la Armada). Luis Lázaro started as a network operator and moved to the programming area. His work focused mainly on the development of software for telecommunications and monitoring.

After 9 years at Telefónica, he decided to take a different direction. “I needed a change”, he says. Luis acknowledges that the Ministry of Defence “was a good client”. As he explains, he had never had any ties with the military, but for him it has been one of the best customers. “I have very good memories of them. They always treated me very well”.

12-hour working days

After 9 years, Luis saw only 2 options: follow and make a career “as an oficial” or look for fresh air. He opted for the latter. Since his economic situation allowed him to do so, he decided to take a sabbatical year. He wanted to put an end to long hours and get out of a job that had already become routine. His idea was to be able to do his own developments and he started doing “little things” on his own, he even thought about being autonomous. “Suddenly one day a former co-worker or an old friend would call me and asked me if I could do a software module for this or that, and I would do it”, he assures with laughter. In addition, he wanted to be able to manage his time better, to dedicate himself to other aspects that he had left behind, such as sport. “I got burned because it was very static”.

Although this new stage was planned as a quieter period, the reality was different. Those “little favours and little Jobs” that he was assuming, in the end, absorbed a good part of his time. “I worked up to 12 hours in one day”, he remembers. Despite the workload, Luis remembers that year as a “very positive” period. He came into contact with former colleagues and began a project different from anything he had done before.

“I began to collaborate with the Alia2 Foundation”. This non-profit organization fights against child pornography on the Internet. “At that time they needed a computer developer, so I helped them for a while. I made programs to detect inappropriate content for minors”, he explains. “They didn’t pay me anything, but it was very interesting”.

 His field, monitoring

After this intense year, he joined IcoEnergia. This company is dedicated to making designs for photovoltaic plants. His profile fit due to his extensive background in network device monitoring. They wanted a software for monitoring photovoltaic plants to measure performance and manage control. “Professionally, it was an experience, but when I finished the development, I decided to leave. If I stayed I was going to do microcomputing”.

Before coming to MMG, Luis already knew the start-up world. According to him, large companies have the disadvantage of being very static, monolithic and pyramidal. However, he acknowledges that they also have their advantages: they are more structured. “Start-up allows you to contribute with a lot of ideas, but you have to marry with the company”. “You have more freedom, but you also have a lot more work”. “A start-up is growing. You have to give a little bit of yourself. Either you help them succeed, or you’re looking for a job at Telefónica”, he says.

At the moment, his work at MMG focuses on MedsBla´s storyline. “This project is a feed of content or social network in which users generate content”, he says. The objective is to be able to recommend content to other users of the platform, that is, to share experiences. “Our idea is to go deeper into a specialized content recommender”, he adds. The interaction of the user with this content will put MMG on track to know what is interesting and what is not. In this way, he explains, the application will be customized according to the needs of each user.

If he had to boast something about MMG it would be its products. For Luis, who “came from working for the devil” (the banks), working in the medical sector is a source of pride. “I want to think that we contribute to the good of humanity”, he says. On the contrary, he says there is a lack of better integration of the teams. “We have very good ideas, very good products, but we lack the integration of teams”, he says.