Many of us strive to be lifelong learners to keep our skills sharp and advance in our careers, especially in technology. Sofie Haesevoets, senior product manager for the Luciad Portfolio, not only exemplifies this, but she encourages the same mindset among her team, other colleagues, and even with her family.
After earning both a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in computer science, Sofie landed at Luciad, now part of Hexagon, in 2005 — but not in the role you might think. Although she’s now in product development, she originally started in a product training role, then moved to the pre-sales team in 2007. By 2009, she was the pre-sales manager in Belgium.
One of Sofie’s most memorable projects came while she was part of the pre-sales team and was in the initial meeting with the French Air Force.
“The meeting almost didn’t take place because we couldn’t enter the military’s facility, and we had to meet in a hotel lobby,” she said. “But in the end, they became a customer, and they are still a big Hexagon customer today.”
As much as Sofie learned from her previous roles, she also did a fair amount of teaching. Regional Pre-Sales Manager Sebastiaan Helsen, who Sofie hired into the company, said he learned a valuable lesson from her when she asked him what “GIS” stood for in his interview, which was a new term for him.
“She said, ‘There is no shame in drawing a line to what you know and don’t know, and there is always an opportunity to take it offline, research it, get help, and come back with a good answer,’” he said. “I’ve done this a million times now, thinking back to those wise words, and I still share this tip with new people.”
Leading an Entire Product Portfolio Team to Innovate
In Sofie’s current role, she is responsible for the Luciad product portfolio and closely cooperates with four Luciad Portfolio development managers and their teams.
“My responsibility goes to the moment where the roadmaps for the different products are defined and aligned,” she said. “Then, the development managers take over to get the implementation started. Together, we discuss any challenges that may come up.”
In the same way that Sofie has gained knowledge from working on multiple teams, she supports the Luciad Portfolio developers in doing the same.
“If someone who was working on Java programming for a long time wants to move to web programming, then they have the opportunity to move for the next release,” she said. “It’s important for people to learn new things or face a new challenge.”
Facing — and surpassing — challenges is certainly not a new concept for Sofie and the product team. In 2016, they figured out a way to turn the LuciadRIA web-based data visualization solution from 2D only to 2D/3D, all while making it extremely easy for customers to implement the new feature.
“3D was added in such a way that our customers who had already written applications needed almost no changes to their existing code,” she said. “They could make a few small changes to the code and suddenly have 3D capabilities.”
Another team accomplishment that Sofie is especially proud of is LuciadCPillar, an addition to the Luciad Portfolio launched earlier this year for the C++/C# community.
“All of the products, after a while, almost become like my children,” she said, “so I care about all of them equally. But LuciadCPillar is special because with this team, we went through the entire process from the initial idea to actually releasing the product for the very first time.”
Reviving a Musical Past to Share with the Future
When Sofie’s not in the office, she’s usually spending time with family, reveling in her love of music, or both, since her family shares in that passion with her. Sofie plays the violin and studies other instruments, and her children play the guitar and saxophone.
“Before I had children, I played quite a lot, and then I stopped playing for over ten years,” she said. “It’s never too late to go back to what you enjoy.”
The same love Sofie has for educating and leading at work also bleeds into her music. In fact, she recently became involved in a music school, where she teaches local children to play the violin.
Nele Coghe, who joined Luciad as a product marketing manager in 2017 and supports the Luciad Portfolio, has also experienced Sofie’s positive leadership firsthand.
“Besides the fact that she’s very knowledgeable, I especially appreciate that Sofie’s always enthusiastic when I have a creative and outside-of-the-box idea for a blog post, launch theme, or product name, like ‘LuciadCPillar,’ ” Nele said. “She’s also supportive of initiatives for which other colleagues need a little more convincing.”
To see what other new ideas Sofie and her team have come up with, check out the Luciad Portfolio on our website.