Data Scientist Pijus: volunteering at the day center is the best way to spend your free time

23/12/2019

Two days a week he comes to work much earlier so that in the afternoon he could rush to Vilijampolė where at Gerumo rankos day center he will be working with children until the evening. Mathematician and Data Scientist at Centric IT Solutions Lithuania, Pijus Kuzma says that willingness to give and share is an integral part of his life, and volunteer work that he has been doing for six years now, is far more enriching than he could have ever expected it to be.

Although musically inclined, Pijus quickly realized that he would not be a great musician, so he left the conservatory and started studying the exact opposite - applied mathematics. When asked why, Pijus first remembers his late grandfather’s words, “If you’re not sure what you want to do with your life, study mathematics, which provides the perfect basis for logical thinking in everything you do.”

“However, as I quickly realized, it is not enough to enter a university program - a deeper understanding and the development of logical thinking come only through hard and motivated work. For me, this eye-opening motivation was my trip to Denmark to study through the Erasmus program. While studying there and writing my bachelor’s thesis, I truly understood what mathematics is and how to apply it,” Pijus recalls the intense years of studying.

Along with the master’s studies, my career started - it was a job at one of the Kaunas’ ICT companies and later in one of the Lithuanian banks, working on the capital adequacy assessment and quantitative calculations. “For me, it wasn’t just a time of learning practical skills but also a touch upon and understanding how people communicate in non-academic settings,” Data Scientist remembers.

Data science - for solving various problems

Today Pijus is a member of the Centric company’s subdivision’s team located in Kaunas - one of the four Data Scientists. “We could say that the things I do here are very different from what I used to do in previous companies. We do not follow defined regulations and create everything from scratch, nurturing each project like a baby, which definitely draws you into product development from the initial phase,” Pijus tells about his work.

What are the projects being developed by Centric data scientists? One of the more interesting ones is a cooperation with a railway maintenance company to help replace worn-out rails.

“Together with the Dutch, we are developing a system that would help detect the rail cracks at an early stage, which would not only save the company huge sums of money but also, most importantly, increase safety - by making rail track maintenance more efficient,” Pijus explains.

Another interesting project is image recognition. Lithuanian team is developing a product that allows retail companies to reduce theft at self-checkout points using the recorded data from the video cameras.

Rewarding generosity

Where numbers and analysis ends, another, no less important part of Pijus’ life begins - volunteering and working with youth in Gerumo rankos organization, with which he not only works but is also a co-founder.

“It all probably started in childhood when I was an active member of the scouts. Later, after returning from my studies abroad, together with like-minded people I understood that the ideas of non-formal education were close to my heart, bringing joy and meaning into my life. This is how we set up a public institution Gerumo rankos, which is growing and expanding year after year: initially, it was only summer camps, weekend gatherings, and later it turned into weekly activities. And this year, we have opened a youth day center, where every weekday, from 3 pm to 7 pm all children from Vilijampolė, who want to spend their time after school in a safe, bright and purposeful way, are welcome. According to Pijus, working with socially excluded children, a few major issues become clear right away. One of them is an inappropriate support that causes the opposite effect. “Giving a child a euro or buying them new pants does not solve the problem. Often you allow them to fixate on the thought that it is convenient to be supported. The second problem is that children do not have the opportunity to get out of the surrounding social environment that tends to draw them in and thus they fail to experience social integration. Finally, we look forward to welcoming children from all backgrounds, not just socially excluded, as children from a wide variety of backgrounds often need a safe, welcoming environment where they could spend some time and we are always ready to welcome these children and invite them to join our activities.”

Although Pijus admits that working with young people is often a challenge - sometimes upon their return home, volunteers shed a tear - still other things make it all worth it. “I may not have understood it before I started volunteering but I perfectly understand it now that as much as you give you will receive twofold. Earlier I would say that I come here for the children, today, I can safely say that I also do it for my own sake - there is no better way to spend my free time.”

A reflection of the company’s internal culture

According to Eglė Valantinė, Human Resources Manager at Centric IT Solutions Lithuania, it has long been recognized that socially responsible activity not only benefits the environment or society but also enriches people’s lives by providing diverse experiences. “Naturally, modern companies foster a culture of responsibility and sharing: it is important for every employee that their work in the company makes sense - so additional social activities contribute to the nurturing of that meaning,” she says.

In addition to participating in company-sponsored relief campaigns, Centric employees can adjust their work schedule according to their personal responsible activities, independently initiating contribution to the community, whether it is a trip to a day center, support for stray animal shelters or giving away unnecessary office supplies and resurrecting them to a new meaningful life, just like the two basketball poles purchased by Centric (featured at the exhibition) that will soon be going to Gerumo rankos day center.

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