Paolo Blem, the longest-standing employee at Milestone Systems, has witnessed a lot of change over the 25 years, but one thing that remains the same is the culture.
When Paolo joined Milestone all those years ago, the company’s culture was at the core of its operations. Milestone’s leadership envisioned a flexible work environment where your job is not the be all and end all: “The founders, Henrik [Friborg Jacobsen] and John [Blem], wanted us to have our 37 hours of work and be happy when we got home, instead of having to work for a deadline that somebody else has been promising.” So, the company’s People First culture has very much been here since the beginning.
The people are one of the key reasons why Paolo has stayed with Milestone for so long. He also believes the mix of different people across the company makes it all worthwhile: “I guess everybody in Milestone is working with different nationalities, more or less every day, right? So that's a blessing.”
Regardless of where Milestone employees are based, they share the same values, which Paolo believes is very important for the company’s success and future growth.
On paper, Paolo Blem is a Community Solutions Architect as part of the technology group at Milestone. But ask around the company and you will quickly find that he is much more than that.
Paolo, a thoughtful and considerate guy, is seen as someone you can always count on. And if you want to know anything about Milestone, Paolo is your man – because he has been with the company since it all began in 1998.
Married with three children, Paolo has a luxurious morning commute. He lives a stone’s throw from Milestone’s headquarters in greater Copenhagen. One of the perks of working at Milestone for 25 years is that his life has evolved in tandem with the company: “When the kids were young, I could actually take them to kindergarten in a running wagon, and then I could run to work,” he says.
Paolo still wears his running shoes. He loves trekking so whenever he has the chance to travel and enjoy nature he does not think twice.
Born in Italy to a Danish father and Italian mother, Paolo moved to Denmark when he was eight years old. He holds a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering and later completed a Master of Business Administration EBA, as well as a CBL in Executive MBA. Paolo has studied both in Denmark and in the United Kingdom.
He started his career as a Software Engineer in a company called Tenfore Systems, a financial market data company. “Tenfore is actually the company that Milestone was spun off from,” says Paolo.
Tenfore eventually relocated to Germany, but Paolo and five other employees decided to stay in Denmark and provide consultancy services for Tenfore.
Every day, after work, the Danish Tenfore team would go home and tinker with their own ideas for products. This is how the idea for Milestone Systems’ video management software came about. “We had this great IP [digital video] camera,” says Paolo, “but there was no real software to manage it.”
From an engineering point of view, Paolo and his colleagues realized they could use their knowledge of financial software and apply it to video software. They were also skilled at managing software releases. So, the technical ingredients were there to pave the way for Milestone Systems as we know it today.
At first, Paolo and his colleagues could put all their focus on the development as they did not really need to make money, since they had their jobs working for Tenfore: “Then we didn't need to take in venture capital so we could decide things for ourselves. For many years, we had an organic growth,” says Paolo.
Paolo describes it as a decent start with low costs for a small startup. Initially, the team worked from a coworking office space so they could access meeting rooms and other facilities when needed. But as the team grew to 10 people, it became clear it was time to find a new workspace. “We moved into our current headquarters in Brøndby in Greater Copenhagen,” says Paolo. “We've been here for all these years. Just expanding.”
For the first couple of years in Milestone, Paolo worked with financial transaction software, internal IT solutions and software development for the customers.
Eventually, when the video software part of the business started to grow, there was a need for custom development and video software experts. Paolo was appointed manager of that division.
The business grew, but there were challenges. It was difficult to hire qualified engineers to continue working on the financial transaction software. Paolo elaborates:
When Milestone hit its 22nd anniversary, the company was reorganized, which brought Paolo to the technology side of the business. The role involved working with Milestone partners, explaining how to integrate the XProtect video management software, and helping them with specific cases. Since then, Paolo has continued working in Milestone’s technology department.
Thinking of the most exciting aspects of Milestone going forward, Paolo highlights the opportunities that come with growing the business within and beyond security.
“It is extremely motivating because there are so many opportunities,” he says. “Finding our way forward and continuing to grow beyond the security is interesting to be part of.”
Name: Paolo Blem
Age: 53 years
Position in Milestone Systems: Community Solutions Architect