#FACES 9 with Dr. Antonios Chrysopoulos, Head of Analytics at NET2GRID
New year, new #FACES episode! January is all about new beginnings and that's why we have with us Dr. Antonios Chrysopoulos, Head of Analytics, who has truly been with NET2GRID Hellas from the beginning while managing to continuously bring fresh perspectives and breakthroughs. A well-seasoned professional with more than 12 years of experience, Antonios started his career at NET2GRID as an analytics architect. After obtaining his Ph.D., he took up a teaching position at the Department of Electrical Engineering at Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, where he continues to participate in various research and development projects up until today. His vast AI and machine learning knowledge, as well as his analytical, technical, and organizational skills, and in addition to his rare capabilities as a mentor, have made him a huge asset for NET2GRID since day one. We are very excited to dedicate January’s #FACES episode to him.
Hello Antonios and thank you for being with us today! Can you tell us about your role as Head of Analytics?
The primary role of the Head of Analytics is to design and supervise the implementation of scalable and intelligent solutions and services based on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in the Cloud. At the same time, I am responsible for mentoring and facilitating the work of the members of the Analytics Team. The Analytics Team is trying to create meaningful services that will help end-users understand their consumption and reduce their carbon footprint (and bills, of course) by providing meaningful insights and recommendations based on their personalized needs and behavior. Additionally, we produce many ancillary services that extend the core service, like Solar Production Metrics, Smart Electric Vehicle Charging, Demand Forecasting, and many more.
NET2GRID turned 10 in 2021 and you have been with NET2GRID Hellas since the early days. Can you please tell us the story behind how you joined NET2GRID and share your view on how the company has transformed since you first joined?
In 2016, Dimitrios (Doukas) and I worked together in the University, planning our next steps as researchers. The goal was to build potential services as an extension of a European Project, resulting from the collaboration between our Laboratories. Through the help of our professors, colleagues, and friends and based on our network of interest, we initiated a project for the provision of Energy Analytics Services with NET2GRID B.V. on top of their existing Hardware and Cloud infrastructure. Since this collaboration was very successful, we decided to kickstart the Greek branch of NET2GRID in 2017. In the beginning, NET2GRID Hellas was essentially the Analytics Team. Since the pool of engineers in Greece is significant, the following natural step was to hire engineers for the Hardware and Platform Teams. Nowadays, we have become a medium-sized branch, with colleagues from all disciplines and with diversified skills. However, I believe that the “family,” cozy feeling that we had (from the beginning) is still there.
Can you share some of the latest projects you have been working on with your team of which you are proud?
Tricky question, since all the products and services that come out of the Analytics Team are like your children. You cannot pick one without the others being mad at you. However, I would say that some of the more interesting ones that we are currently working on are Real-Time Electric Vehicle detection, Solar Production Prediction, Demand Forecasting on an individual household level, and many more. One of the most exciting and contemporary services we are currently working on is Battery Services. Due to the significant increase in energy costs, batteries are becoming a hot commodity for saving money. To this end, we are currently working on a new service that will recommend the optimal and more affordable Battery solution for a household, based on its consumption and solar production. You have a Ph.D., and you were a Lecturer for many years at the Electrical Engineering School of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. How does your teaching experience help you in your current role?
I think that teaching young and brilliant minds that are the future prospects of our society is a blessing and an honor. The connection you can create with students via the lectures, the technical and personal discussions, and insightful questions can lead to extraordinary results. Since I am not that old (OK, maybe I am), the students could relate to what I was saying and feel more free to discuss everything on their minds with me. Moving forward, I like to think that my time at the university has shown me how to approach interns and junior engineers and mentor them to their full potential while doing exciting and novel things simultaneously. A second important trait that I have acquired is a skill in explanation in that I am able to break down technical or complex notions to be comprehensive for non-experts or non-technical people. This is very helpful when dealing with junior engineers, marketing/product colleagues, and external shareholders.
Aristotle University has recognized NET2GRID as one of the best working environments for juniors in Thessaloniki for 2018-2019. It’s no secret that your mentorship to our interns has contributed to this distinction. What are the main drivers behind your mentorship efforts?
Personally speaking, my main driver is that I can relate to their eagerness to explore niche technologies and exciting topics out of the strictly predefined university lectures because that was my main interest when I was a student and a young researcher. Also, I feel complete and proud when I see young women and men thriving in their work and research while unlocking their full potential through their effort and hard work. However, I think this is a company effort. I need to highlight that all the Team Leads and many of my colleagues are naturally good mentors. They can create the proper environment for young individuals to feel comfortable and learn new and interesting stuff.
Rumor has it that you're a big cinephile and your movie collection amounts to a three-digit number. If you had to pick only one movie to watch for the rest of your life, which would it be and why?
Haha, not trying to flex or anything, but the truth is near to five-digit nowadays. One of my few comforts during the COVID-19 situation was to search, buy and watch (old and new) educational or fun movies. You can never have enough, I guess. If I had to pick one movie, it would be my all-time favorite, “I Am Sam.” It is the story of a father with an intellectual disability (Sean Penn) trying to get back the custody of his 7-year-old daughter (Dakota Fanning). A lawyer (Michel Pfeiffer) is helping him for free to showcase that she is not just rich and ruthless. It is a profoundly bittersweet story, showing how family matters more than anything, how love conquers it all, and why we should not judge a book by its cover. Sean Penn is out-of-this-world in the movie, his best performance ever, hands down. Also, the movie’s Grammy-nominated soundtrack is full of covers of The Beatles. What more is there to ask?
What advice would you give to Engineering students who are about to kick start their careers?
It sounds like a cliche (and maybe it is), but I would advise them to continuously search for subjects that will make them feel complete while still young and full of energy. It is a pity to settle in a job/place/team just for the sake of feeling secure but empty at the same time. My second advice is to be inquisitive, question everything, and be self-driven. Yearn for helpful advice, mentoring, and creative discussions, but do not wait for someone to “push” you forward; you know where you want to go better than anyone else.
You can contact Dr. Antonios Chrysopoulos at firstname.lastname@example.org