Big data in a smart little city
Posted on Wednesday 4 March 2020
After working in Nelson Tasman as a university student Matthew Polson says it was always a place he thought about, so when he was offered a job with New Zealand’s largest technology company; Datacom, coupled with the easy lifestyle it was a no-brainer for himself and his family to move to the beautiful region.
What made you make a move to Nelson Tasman?
I used to come to Nelson when I was a student at Otago University and work on the orchards. I spent three summers up here and after that, it's always been a place I thought about. We were most recently living in Sweden when we decided to move back to New Zealand. I was lucky enough to get a few job offers in different places around the country but in the end, we couldn't really go any other way, Nelson just has such an easy lifestyle and is such a beautiful region. To be able to get a job here, working for New Zealand's biggest tech company, and to contribute in the company on a national level even though I'm not in one of the main offices has been brilliant.
My partner Holly is a fashion designer and we decided the Nelson Tasman region would be a great place to start her own label too, which is really exciting. I think in the modern world you don’t have to limit yourself and lifestyle by working in a bigger city. There are heaps of people in the Nelson Tasman region and other regions alike, doing amazing things via their laptops along with community support. This is the new modern workplace and I think it’s less and less important to be based in a big city.
What do you do for work in Nelson Tasman?
I work for Datacom as the National Head of Technology, Data & Analytics. I help customers with any kind of data need from data strategy, data management, analytics and visualisation right through to machine learning and AI. For example, a lot of what we’ve been doing lately is helping our customers build or modernise their data platform. Essentially this means taking data out of an organisation’s different systems and devices and combining that into a cloud platform. Organisations can then analyse and mine that data to gain insights about their business and build reports, visualizations, automations and products from it. Modern companies are becoming increasingly data-driven and are realising the value of their data and its ability to optimise and shape the direction of their business.
How do you find Nelson Tasman a place to work?
I think it’s kind of surprising. I’ve worked on projects in data analytics all around Europe, and actually the projects I have in Nelson are probably some of the most exciting that I've worked on anywhere. There are companies doing really amazing things here and there’s a high level of ambition - a lot of people have a real entrepreneurial spirit. So that’s been surprising as I didn't expect that. You always think okay ‘bigger cities, more money’ and that there will be more exciting work on offer but that’s definitely not the case, it's been quite the opposite really.
What do you most value about living in Nelson Tasman?
Living in Europe, we used to fly three hours each summer to go to the Mediterranean. You fly to all these amazing places but then you start to realize that you've got all that they offer and more back home. Nelson has these places with way less people and you can have it within half an hour of where you're working or right in central Nelson.
In the year we've been back we've had another child, so our life has been pretty family-focused. We’re doing a lot of gentle walks, going to beaches and doing a lot of swimming. On the weekends we're going out to cafes and doing all kinds of activities. It's great to be able to have somewhere with such a good climate, such great outdoors; beaches and mountains and forests and the culture here is amazing. It’s the kind of place where you can do everything in one day. You just have more time; you're not commuting everywhere - everything's just on your doorstep.
What do you think that Nelson has or offers that the main centres in New Zealand can't?
There's a lot of work in my area in the main centres but I think my partner and I looked at it and were like; okay, do we want to go to somewhere with bad weather? No. Do we want to go somewhere with bad traffic? No. We went somewhere where we have time to spend with the family and generally a little bit more time in our lives. I spent 17 years living in big cities and I was ready for somewhere smaller with that really good work-life balance.
Do you think Nelson's a good place to raise kids and what makes it different from other areas?
Definitely! We got to a point where my oldest daughter was about to turn five which partly prompted our trip back as we were deciding whether we wanted her to grow up Swedish or Kiwi. After looking for somewhere to live in New Zealand, Nelson Tasman was an obvious choice being an amazing place for kids. All the schools are amazing, and the kids get that kind of freedom that I had as a kid. That freedom was what we were looking for - growing up in a small town always gives you that ability to just run about and be gone for a few hours with no one really worrying and it’s awesome our kids can still do that in a place like Nelson.
How have you found the community since moving here?
I think it's really diverse here, there are lots of people doing different things and on different wavelengths. I think everyone's got that can-do kind of attitude, there's nothing to stop you doing anything. There's an entrepreneurial spirit to people, lots of cool start-ups going on and people doing inspiring things, working remotely for many companies overseas. No one is forced to live here; I think people are here because they love it more than anything.
The people here are really friendly and we’ve been able to connect into the community easily. I've been able to chat with people on the street or in a café, just anywhere really. It was pretty easy once the kids started at school too as there's a lot of communities and the parents get invited to different events. We've actually bumped into a Swedish community so we're going to a Swedish midsummer party next weekend which should be lots of fun!
To discover more about living and working in Nelson Tasman click here.