Employee Spotlight: Leonard Wolters

Meet Crobox's Chief Data Officer!

Nikole Wintermeier | Feb 24, 2021

Leo Spotlight (1)

Q. If you could sum up your job in one word, what would you say?

 

At first, I guess I would say: Building. This has been my role within various companies I’ve worked for - I like to build stuff. But it doesn’t really sum it up, of course, because I’m primarily a data scientist. 

So I guess in more than one word, my job would be: Making things work. Because although I like to build things, I also like to see how they come to light. 

 

Q. Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?

 

Actually, it’s a bit of a funny question because I’ve always been an entrepreneur! I’ve never been an employee in my life. When I was twenty I met some friends at University, and they asked me to join their company. So I’ve basically been an entrepreneur since I was nineteen. 

Being an entrepreneur provides a lot of freedom. Working in the corporate world, you have to work for someone else, and there might be more restrictions on both the work itself and the way you work. But, to be quite honest, if I wanted to work for a corporation I would have had to do it ages ago. I’ve passed those crossroads now. 

I also think that more people are acting like entrepreneurs these days. Working from home provides people with flexibility, and the ability to build our own schemas for the day. Which is exactly what the life of an entrepreneur gives access to, and one of the parts that I like the best.  

 

Q. According to you, what’s the best part of working with AI?

 

I’ve passed the stage where working with AI is “cool”. The way I deal with it now is through optimization. I’m automating performance, by slowly building things out and experimenting with them. 

So, instead of just applying cool stuff to things without a predefined problem, I’m applying AI to where it really fits. And that’s the best part. It goes back to the idea of building stuff and making things work. 

 

Q. What do you think is the future of AI in retail?

 

What I would love to see is how AI will help consumers stop buying useless stuff. Of course, this depends on how you see yourself - but many of us are buying stuff we don’t actually need. 

Instead, AI should be used to optimize the relationship between the product and the person buying it, so that we can feel we are due these purchases. It could be about showing customers recommendations based on products they’ve already viewed, or showing new and surprising products so that they think: Wow this is really cool! 

I think the future of AI will be used to figure out the most appealing benefits or attributes of a product, and then promote that product, or develop it in a better way that fits the needs of the customer. 

 

Q. Any theories about AI in the future that you believe in?

 

 

I enjoyed the books of Yuval Noah Harari (Home Deus, Homo Sapiens, 21 lessons) because Harari unveils a realistic future of AI that closely matches my view(s). Initially, AI will more and more actively guide humans through their day-to-day jobs; eventually they might take over (although I’m not really foreseeing this; from a sociological point of view we Humans are designed to work).

Whenever AI takes over our daily destinations, we’re forced to redevelop ourselves; or enjoy playing digital games all day long...

Interestingly, and also mentioned in Harari’s books, someday an AI will be built that ‘understands’ human intellect. Whenever this is done, it will immediately outsmart human beings since it will instantly use this developed intellect to create an even better intelligence, which will be used to create an even better intelligence and so on. However, this is based on our definition of intelligence (which is arguably absent, but most definitely not universal). 

Even so, will we humans understand and value intelligence which we don’t even understand?

 

Q. Favorite book?

 

That’s a tough one. I like sci-fi as a genre, time-traveling, non-fiction, and am also a big fan of Dutch literature. 1984 by George Orwell is a timeless favorite, but I also really like Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami. 

 

Q. What’s one fun fact about you most people don’t know?

 

I used to be a kids model. I was also in a famous chocolate brand commercial. I was with the advertisers all day, eating and endless supply of chocolate. At the end of the day I got so sick… 


Yes, that’s me on the cover of a magazine! 

 

Q. Can you challenge the stereotype that AI and sports don't mix? Do you do any sports?

 

I’ve always done lots of sports, from baseball to football (even basketball, although I didn’t like it as much). Now, I mostly cycle and run.

I run about two to three times a week. 

 

Q. What’s your best Amsterdam recommendation? 

 

Weesperzijde: Yes! You can swim in Amsterdam’s open waters (Het Parool). 

 

Brouwerij 't ij. It’s a famous brewery under a windmill. It’s the best thing to do, but unfortunately, like many things in Amsterdam, it’s become really popular. 

In the summer, I highly recommend the Weesperzijde: It’s basically like a city beach where people can swim in the Amstel river. 


 

In the Winter, when you get lucky and the canals and lakes freeze over, go ice skating in the Twiske!

 

Q. What’s the closest you ever got to fame?

 

Being a (data) model, of course! Excuse the dad joke.  I was also on the cover of a magazine when I started my first company. I was twenty-one years old. 

 

Q. Who would you swap lives with in the office for a day? 

 

I can’t answer that question because I’m quite happy being me. 



Our Employee Spotlights will feature interviews with Crobox's in-house experts. From data scientists to psychologists, learn what makes us tick professionally (and privately).