Spotlight

TomTom Mapmakers: Meet Marcin Graczyk, Engineering Manager

Ruanna Owens
Jan 19, 2022 • Last edit on Sep 20, 20226 min read

OUR MAPMAKERS SERIES

TomTom started with a simple idea: Make digital navigation accessible for everyone. Our people are what make this vision possible. We are excited to celebrate and showcase the amazing individuals who make the location technology that help people every day. In our TomTom Mapmakers series, we publish an interview once a month with some of our product experts, designers, and developers to learn more about their journeys, roles, and hear their insights on the future of location tech.

This month we spoke with Marcin Graczyk, Engineering Manager, specializing in Traffic and Travel Information. Keep reading to learn more about Marcin’s experience in computer science, software engineering, and traffic data and products, and his thoughts on the future of connected and electric vehicles.

MEET MARCIN

What do you do at TomTom?

I’m Engineering Manager in the Traffic and Travel Information (TTI) product unit, responsible for Traffic Analytics product domain. We’re building products and services that help to reduce congestion and emissions and improve traffic safety, mainly focused on the traffic management market. All of this is available via our TomTom Move portal and set of APIs that provide real-time and historical traffic data.

Tell me about your career path.

I think it all started in the ‘90s when I was a kid and my dad bought our first PC. In the beginning I used to play computer games, but then I became interested in both hardware and software. I was replacing parts of the PC with my dad and then doing upgrades myself. I still remember my first modifications of source code written in BASIC! To learn it, I had to first retype the text from a computer magazine.

It was sort of natural for me to study computer science with this type of hobby, so I attended Lodz University of Technology in my home city. I never considered any other path for myself, actually. Before reaching the MSc degree, I joined a software company called Comarch as a software engineer intern. When I was working there, my role started to shift towards a business analyst as I was joining more and more customer meetings and discussing software design and requirements.

After a couple of years came TomTom. I joined the company in 2015 as a product owner in Lodz for single TTI development team, back then it was six people (Warta team- it still exists!). This team is the origin of our Traffic Analytics team, which is now responsible for multiple products related to traffic information (like Traffic Stats, O/D Analysis, Junction Analysis, Route Monitoring, Road Event Reporter and Traffic Index). The team has also grown in size in the meantime. In 2020 my role changed again and now I’m the “captain” of Traffic Analytics – we now have 6 cross-functional teams for this domain in TomTom.

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What is your favorite part of your role?

People, definitely. I think the best part is that I work with awesome, smart people on the product teams. And that we’re not too serious. Also, it’s more than just people in TomTom, seeing a happy customer on a call also gives a huge boost of motivation.

The domain itself is also interesting, we have almost complete end-to-end responsibility, we launch new products, we constantly get new challenges. There’s no chance to be bored.

What is a challenging aspect of your role?

Time management – I have a bit of FOMO syndrome and I would like to attend customer meetings to have better product insights, attend team meetings and help the teams, do some work as individual contributor and reserve time for some learning. I know that I can’t do all of this, so prioritization does sometimes hurt.

What trends around location technology do you find interesting?

There’s a couple of trends that I’m interested in. Seeing more connected vehicles makes me think that we can really solve traffic congestion in cities and problems connected with it: wasted time, rising pollution. My home city, Lodz, always scores high in our Traffic index congestion ranking, I think with traffic data and right traffic management we can predict demand for public transportation, improve traffic safety and lower overall congestion. The more cars are connected the more we can influence people’s driving decisions, suggest alternatives. It’s a flywheel effect.

Sharing location and sensor data from new cars (to service providers like TomTom) and between the cars directly can be game changing for traffic safety, cars warning each other about hazards/difficult road conditions, objects on the road, unexpected jam tails. This can literally save lives.

I’m also really curious about the adoption of EV cars, despite different challenges that EV cars have (like range anxiety), I know that in Norway we might see 100% of new car sales to be somewhat electrified already in 2022. I would love to see such an EV-movement in my country.

All of this location data can be really helpful, but then there’s also the other side of the coin: we need to remember about user privacy. Just like in our private life, with social media, with how we use voice assistants or search engines, we shouldn’t allow governments or private companies to do profiling on us.

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What is your favorite coding language?

My team would probably say “Excel”. Honestly, there’s none that is favorite, although I have some sentiment towards PL/SQL and databases. You always need to pick the right tools to solve your problems.

What are some of your hobbies/side projects outside of work?

I love history, mainly I’m interested in Europe and World War II. There’s still much we can learn based on previous experience, a bit connected to this is geopolitical topics, current affairs. Big organizations are like countries to a certain degree.

I also like motorsports, shooting, and I’m a newbie gardener. And I still play computer games from time to time in the evenings.

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What do you wish people knew about our industry?

That it affects our daily lives more than we imagine. Every parcel and shipment needs location services, logistic companies try to optimize routes and delivery chains when transferring goods using traffic and location data, this data is involved in every ride-hailing activity or every food delivery. A lot of search engine queries are location-related.

What do you think would be the most fun country to map?

San Escobar, because it doesn’t exist. :) I also find Japan and their totally different addressing system really interesting. They don’t have street names, it’s a crazy concept for Europeans.

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NEXT STEPS

To learn more about Marcin, you can find him on LinkedIn.

To learn more about Traffic Analytics, visit this page.

Want to read more from our Mapmaker series? Check out these articles:

Remember, you can always reach out to us in our Developer Forum for any questions you may have.

Happy mapping!

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