Once Upon a Time…
Global Trade Tracker was launched officially in the summer of 2008. It was a beautiful summer.
But we really need to travel back much further in time – deep into the previous century – to reveal the full GTT story.
Global Trade Tracker evolved directly out of another service, called Tradstat. And Tradstat was the very first online global trade statistics service.
In evolutionary terms, Tradstat was the blobfish that crawled out of the swamp.
Tradstat was developed in 1981 by Unilever Computer Services for internal use, before it became available to public subscribers in 1984, a full four years before the Harmonized System came into effect in 1988 – and it covered 12 countries.
We now jump ten years forward in our fable – to 1994.
The blobfish was now a duck.
With the Web increasingly gaining a foothold in our business lives, Tradstat was given a major makeover, and the number of countries covered was increased to a very impressive 24.
Floppy Disk was also added as one of the delivery options. Not surprisingly, Tradstat was winning accolades and awards globally, including the “Best Database of 1994”, an award bestowed on it by a major international publisher. And Tradstat was still utterly unique at the time.
No other online service brought together the official trade statistics for multiple countries in this way.
Amazingly, more than half the existing GTT team have in some way been involved in Tradstat development and support, and are able to proudly include this pioneering phase of early online in their professional portfolios.
It was cutting edge then, just as it is now.
And the Tradstat duck has become the beautiful GTT swan.
Managing Director & Head of Technology
I feel very privileged to be able to lead such a team of talent. When you consider that we bring order to the chaos of 200 obstreperous countries, then it’s perhaps surprising that GTT manages to be so reliable; as accurate as a Swiss watch, and as flexible as your proverbial Swiss army knife. This is good news, because it gives me more time to indulge in my favourite pursuit: listening to customers – and incorporating their feedback to make GTT even better. And scuba diving when I get the chance. Do I own a Swiss army knife? Absolutely. Where else would I keep my underwater camera?
Senior Software Engineer & Systems Architect
They say that the programmers of tomorrow are the wizards of the future. Very true. And in the case of GTT, the future has already arrived. It really feels as if we are the wizards of today. I’m also your stereotypical geek (not to be confused with nerds or dorks, they are totally different – I’m definitely not a nerd or a dork) and I absolutely love my gadgets. My Swiss army knife has embedded 8K SUHD nanocrystal screens in the handles, with bluetooth voice activation and GPS tracking, as well as 7G and AI. But most important, it also tosses a tasty pancake. Guten appetit!
Trade Analyst & Senior Software Engineer
I collect vintage computers. I also like taking things apart to see if I can then put them back together again, although reassembly always means bits left over. That’s one of life’s great mysteries, along with the recognition that washing machines eat single socks. But it’s the interesting bits left over that led to the cuckoo clock– allegedly. Does this have anything to do with complex coding? Maybe. As lead developer in the 1994 Tradstat makeover (did I mention that it was award-winning?) I discovered that leftover bits were bad news. I do feel incredibly fortunate in my work-life balance. My commute home in the summer is 4km floating on my back down the Aare river flowing serenely all the way into Berne. My clothes and my laptop are all in the roomy waterproof pouch that is one of the attachments on my trusty Swiss army knife.
Mis-quoting Stan Randall, a fellow famous Canadian: “Your CV is the closest to perfection that you’ll ever get”. Maybe that’s why I’m somewhat reluctant to talk about myself and my cool career. Suffice to say, my professional passions have always been focused on complex information tools and services, and I find it profoundly satisfying to be able to match customers’ needs with solutions. My other passions include reading about Oumuamua; the spring thaw; anything by Prince; admitting I’m wrong; thanking pilots; and well sung national anthems. My Swiss army knife? I’ve added my own attachment: a jukebox that can sing the national anthems for all 200 GTT countries – on demand. In four parts, with orchestral accompaniment. I’ve suggested it to Victorinox.
Customer Services Manager
I head up the all-important Tier One Support layer at GTT, the layer that listens to your questions and your problems. The friendly <inter>face. My colleagues call me the GTT Agony Aunt. As it happens, I’m also really interested in UFOs and aliens, and conspiracy theories, which means that I can greet an alien in no less than 26 different ways; mostly using guttural grunts, sonorous snorts, and my bass guitar. There’s even one greeting that involves writhing and rolling around on the floor. I’m sure it will prove useful one of these days. Actually, much more useful when troubleshooting customer issues is having an open mind and expecting the unexpected. When it comes to sorting out the idiosyncrasies of official trade statistics then you really do need to take a holistic approach to problem solving. And by the way, my Swiss army knife has an Ectoplasm Analyzer on it – even better than the one they used on Ghostbusters.
Senior Financial Accountant
Anyone fancy a Swiss cervelat sausage sizzling over a cosy campfire? When I’m not reconciling the GTT accounts then we’re taking the family (and the sausages) up into the Alps on our eBikes. My first job was with a champagne company, but that experience was really quite flat – compared to working with a GTT team that’s really fizzing. I’ve always liked numbers. And games of chance. If money is involved then I usually win, and my favourite Abba song is of course “Money Money Money”. Yes, I also love my Swiss army knife, with a telescopic fork tool, so that I don’t fry my fingers when I’m sizzling my cervelats.
Senior Software Engineer & Systems Architect
I’ve spent the last thirty years diving deep into search engines, and even deeper into coral reefs– not that I’m suggesting there’s any parallels or similarities. Although come to think of it – a slug of extra oxygen might work wonders when you’re grappling with the programming of trade flow tools. It’s particularly prescient to think that the first database that I worked on was covering human induced climate change. Now, when I go muck diving in the pacific I’m seeing the direct consequences first hand. And yes – I always have my special edition Swiss army diving knife with me. It glows green when there are sharks nearby.
Senior Software Engineer & Systems Architect
You’d have to pop in to the Videogame Museum in my home town of Montreal if you wanted to admire the fruits of my 1980s programming efforts. That was with Videoway, the first interactive TV gaming box in North America, and very successful until the cord-cutting started. I remember my favourite game was Mr Chinn the Chinese chef -spinning plates on poles. Is this a good allegory for life? Maybe. I do feel very fortunate that I went from the foothills of my namesake mountain, the beautiful Mont Tremblant just north of Montreal, to the stunning Bernese Alps. Impossible to pick your favourite, although when it comes to choosing between the two national flowers, the Swiss edelweiss and the Canadian bunchberry, then it’s an easier decision. And my Swiss army knife has a special wiggly multiwand that spins my plates, as I spin my bike.
As a commissioned officer in the Indian Navy, for the first ten years of my career I was a Harrier Jump Jet engineer. Amazing machines. Uniquely, they can also VIFF – Vector In Full Flight. This is the Top Gun trick of suddenly slamming on the brakes in mid-air. Certainly, since I hung up my officer’s spurs and entered civilian life, first as a strategy consultant and then working with trade flows solutions, I’ve found that the ability to VIFF – metaphorically speaking – is essential. Slam on the brakes if you have to. As a voracious reader, there are very few subjects that don’t tickle my taste buds. Did you hear about the twelve recently announced new species of cloud? Or the spinach plants that can send emails? And yes, before you ask, I have just ordered my special Swiss army knife. The jump-jet thrusters allow it to hover in one spot, or to shoot forward on command. Very handy for zooming up into the sky and checking out the new cloud types with the built-in videocam.
For 25 years I’ve had the privilege of working with prestigious publishing and information companies such as OUP and Pearson, giving me not only an in-depth understanding of the processes of creating and delivering high quality information, but also a passion for uncompromised service and attention to detail. I know pedigree when I see it, and if Global Trade Tracker were a pedigree dog, then it would probably not win “the waggiest tail” category, but it would walk away with “the best tricks” rosette. In my spare time, I’m also an amateur Shot Glass Collector. Whenever I travel, a souvenir shot glass – or jigger as it’s also called – somehow finds its way into my luggage. My extensive jigger collection is now the envy of other jiggerstologists, and my Swiss army knife comes with a set of 26 jiggers attached – one for each Swiss Canton, and filled with the special kirsch for that canton. Yes, that’s right. That means we’re all shet for a twenty shixsh shotglash shpecial kirsch shindig – shaken but not shtirred – as Sean Connery might have shed. Proscht!
Finance Director & Senior Systems Architect
My colleagues tell me that I have a brain the size of a planet, and that it would probably explode from overheating if I didn’t shave my head. Maybe. It’s not something I really want to test out. This dubious accolade is probably because I’m ultimately responsible for looking after almost 100 different computer systems and infrastructures and failsafe layers that all keep GTT whirring away so reliably 24/7 . As well as Mr Explodinghead and Mr Shavedhead, I’m also Mr Petrolhead, and doing laps on the Nürburgring is even more exciting than setting up mirror sites. My Swiss army knife comes with a shaving foam nozzle, badger-hair brush and a triple-blade coconut razor.
Senior Software Engineer & Systems Architect
Rapping through some of the highlights of my career, first it was SQL for ERP, then an EMP for SIS, followed by a PAS for UBS. Now it’s the DSO and QMF on DB2 and FTP using APIs through VPNs for GTT. But did you know that TLA also means “The Life Adventure”? That’s the TLA that really drives me, and I’m very glad that my wife and kids also share my many passions for travel and sports, both over land and under water. No – I haven’t tried wingsuit gliding yet, although I’m told it’s very popular in the Alps. I also quite fancy myself as a wine connoisseur (my wife calls it wine-snob), and I’m convinced that this helps to make me such an amazingly imaginative developer. My Swiss army knife has this really handy ceremonial samurai sword that can slice the top off a wine bottle in one sweep.
Did you know that when you say in Swahili “Sijui ninachosema lakini napenda sauti yake” this means “I’ve no idea what I’m saying but I love the sound of it”? No, neither did I. Anyway, by profession I’ve always been embedded in the electronic information industry – apart from a brief and largely unsuccessful spell as a recruiter for geosurvey engineers searching the oceans for dirty oil. Funnily enough, when I’m working with all the complexities of international trade flows, I often think of those engineers also sailing the high seas in their rust-buckets. What is the HS code for “unemployed geosurvey engineer” I wonder, and why Swahili you might ask? Well, one of my many passions is languages, and after a few glasses of Swiss schnapps, even my Swiss-German sounds plausible – at least to me. My Swiss army knife also functions as a babel fish. I stick it in my ear and it simultaneously translates anything it hears – including Klingon. Useful – just in case I meet one of Tomasz’s aliens.
They say that curiosity killed the cat. But I don’t mind, because I prefer dogs. But curiosity is certainly a great attribute in my role at GTT. I find it endlessly fascinating to hear from customers how particular commodities are essential to their interesting processes and unusual products. It’s then really satisfying to be able to show them how GTT can help to make their business better – in optimizing and planning and forecasting. And to the best of my knowledge, my curiosity hasn’t killed any cats – yet. But that reminds me. I’m also very fond of Salsa – mostly the dancing, although I’m also partial to the sauce. And it turns out that cats doing salsa-dancing are in the top ten on YouTube. My Swiss army knife has all the same gadgets as on the Mars Curiosity Rover. That’s about 300 in total, so that covers me for most things.
I briefly find myself drifting back into the memories of online prehistory; where I’m doing chemical substructure searching without a GUI – or even a screen for that matter. Thermal paper is cutting edge. 300baud is superfast. The PC is but a twinkle in Bill Gates’s eye. His left eye. That’s probably why I don’t trust anyone who can type with more than two fingers. For forty years I’ve been involved in developing and supporting information tools that help people make better , wiser decisions, and GTT is of course no exception. “The next step in man’s evolution will be the survival of the wisest” says Deepak Chopra. Very wise. He’ll survive. And as for me, I really want to be able to play my bagpipes while unicycling. Is that wise you might ask? Will I survive? One of the attachments on my Swiss army knife is a set of bagpipes. But oddly enough, it sounds more like a Swiss alphorn when I play it.