OAG in Kaunas: Brought Together by Shared Passion for Data and Aviation
“No, we’re not watching airplanes landing at sunset through the windows of the office,” says Simona Vabalė, Head of the OAG office in Kaunas, when asked how much aviation, how many airplanes and flights are in the daily life of the company. She immediately adds: “But we have 170 people worldwide who have a passion for aviation, data, and technology. And what could be more fun than all of this gathered in one place?”
Operating in Kaunas for only a year, the office will soon develop about 60 percent of all OAG technology products both for the airlines and the passengers, that are designed to meet their needs and solve their problems.
More than 90 years of history
It can be said that the organization was started during the Industrial Revolution: the OAG (Official Aviation Guide) was established with the advent of passenger airlines, and it has been operating for over 90 years now. Since the start, the company has been a leading player for data and, today, for digital information in the aviation market.
“Our business area is extremely dynamic and engaging. We control huge arrays of data. Every day, we process 4 million flight change information, affecting almost 12 million air passengers. The solutions we offer include the world’s largest flight scheduling database (OAG Schedules), a real-time route and flight status system (OAG Flightview), and a passenger traffic flow monitoring and analysis toolkit (OAG Analytics). In addition, we award the most efficient airlines and airports in OAG on-time performance star ratings: a highly respected rating in the aviation market,” says Simona Vabalė, Head of “OAG Aviation Worldwide” Kaunas office.
Although OAG is not a large organization – with 170 employees spread across the offices in the United Kingdom, the United States, Lithuania, Singapore, Japan, and China – it works with very famous companies such as “Google”, “Bing”, “Expedia”, “Skyscanner”, “British Airways” or “United” that are well-known to end-users.
OAG’s main clients are airlines, airports and technology solutions providers. So, if you are looking for holiday flights on the Internet, viewing your flight information on the airport information board or subscribing to a status change message, you are probably using the solutions developed by OAG.
The main technology center is in Kaunas
OAG officially opened its office in Kaunas in September 2018. Since the start, it has grown to 27 employees and plans to expand even more in the coming years.
“Today we are the second-largest office and largest technology center in the organization. Our product teams develop flight scheduling database (OAG Schedules) products and help to ensure that our customers would receive the correct data. We also develop the broadest and most up-to-date flight connection platform that will help the industry to implement the new IATA regulation, providing more security and efficiency for customers when choosing connecting flights. We started developing data science in Kaunas, and we will soon be in full control of the real-time route and flight status system (OAG Flightview),” says the director listing activities of Kaunas office.
Engineers working in Kaunas have been given the freedom to improve and influence the entire OAG organization, so employees are fully integrated and create value with their colleagues in other countries.
According to the director, the growing ambitions and the team will lead to more changes: the current office in “Kauno Dokas” is already getting too small.
Not long ago, the Head of Kaunas office S. Vabalė was also given global responsibility: she became responsible for the function of People & Culture within the company.
Kaunas was distinguished by its energy and enthusiasm
When the company was choosing the direction for the development, it was not by chance that Kaunas appeared on the OAG’s list of locations.
Photo: Head of Kaunas office S. Vabalė (left).
“Our owners already had a positive experience with Lithuania and Kaunas. Upon arriving in Lithuania, the company’s executives were impressed with the hospitality of people, infrastructure and governmental institutions (such as “Invest Lithuania”) and their efforts to introduce Lithuania. Kaunas was distinguished by its energy and enthusiasm, so within a few months it was decided to expand the company’s activities in this particular city,” says S. Vabalė.
Such energetic, eager to create and not afraid of responsibility people also work at OAG in Kaunas today. Most of our employees are software development and testing engineers, data scientists, and there are a few specialists working on data operations. The company is currently hiring IT infrastructure engineers to work in product teams.
Being a relatively small organization, OAG in Kaunas has the opportunity to grow in a controlled way and is striving to introduce new employees gradually into the team and organization, thus maintaining its unique culture.
According to the director, when building a team and getting to know a potential employee, the first thing is to evaluate his/her personality and the values that he/she brings: the company appreciates people who want to constantly grow, are proactive, energetic, and ambitious. “We are all different and happy about that: we respect each other and different approaches, so everyone feels comfortable which is extremely important. Once, a colleague from the United Kingdom commented that we have a special aura in Kaunas. I hope that is the case: that certain intangible things make us special.”