Ep. #4 - Sebastien Roy on Studying Physics, Defining Success, and Optimization in Aviation


"...once you reach a certain point where you can look back and say 'Hey, here are all the things I've influenced in my life' and it was clearly a net positive then I think this is how I define my own success." - Sebastien Roy

This episode's guest is Sebastien Roy, my cofounder, CEO and the person behind the original idea for Lean Systems.

Seb grew up in Sherbrooke, Quebec, in Canada, and did his undergrad, Master’s and Ph.D at Universite de Sherbrooke in Physics, with his graduate work focusing on superconductivity.  

After his post-graduate work, he began working at AD-OPT, an operations research company specializing in solving optimization problems like crew scheduling for some of the world’s top commercial aviation companies.

He graduated from Founder Institute Montreal with me, which is where we met and he refined his idea for what would become Lean Systems, and convinced me to join as a cofounder.

As one would expect for cofounders, I have an immense amount of respect for Seb - he’s one of the smartest, hardworking, and thoughtful people I know.  This conversation is a bit of an introduction and background to Seb and Lean Systems, and how optimization works in commercial and business aviation.

This chat lays the groundwork for some future episodes, where we’re going to chat in depth about how optimization can be applied in business aviation, and how some of the latest technology, including machine learning and artificial intelligence, can be applied.

Where you can find Seb:

Twitter | LinkedIn | Lean Systems

Selected links from episode

Show notes

  • Why Seb chose to study physics at Université de Sherbrooke [2:01]

  • What Seb studied for his Master's and PhD [4:34]

  • Seb talks about one of the busiest periods of his life - having kids, recording albums, finishing his PhD and building a house at the same time [7:53]

  • How Seb got his first job at optimization company AD-OPT [12:42]

  • The types of problems that fall under the operations research title [17:22]

  • How commercial aviation and business aviation optimization problems are similar and different [21:14]

  • Some of the most interesting problems Seb has worked on [25:57]

  • Where the idea for Lean Systems came from, and the core innovation in the model [29:29]

  • Why scheduling/logistics optimization problems are so difficult to solve, and the difficulty is often underestimated [34:13]

  • Some promising areas of application in aviation for machine learning and AI [43:40]

  • The people Seb thinks about when talking about the word 'successful' [51:15]

  • Books that have had a large impact on Seb [52:52]

  • Seb's advice for smart, motivated people just finishing college (or any age) [55:36]