Mathematics MSc Programmes

Alumni perspectives: Looking back

Views from alumni about how the OR MSc at Edinburgh has helped shape their career.

Nicholas Bec (2007)

I chose to do my MSc Operational Research at Edinburgh because I wanted to use my previous degree in Maths and Computer Science in a more practical way. The broad range of options, on top of an academically rigorous approach to the subject, allowed me to establish a foundation which I’ve been building on ever since.

I completed my MSc went straight into a job with BAE Systems, working in one of their analysis groups, putting the skills I had learnt into practice, focusing on simulation and mathematical modelling. My ability to explain complex technical concepts to non-technical audiences led to me transferring internally to a customer facing consultancy group. It was interesting to see how many of the softer skills I’d learnt in Edinburgh were applicable in this new role.

After four years with the company I decided to make another change, and took a career break during which I travelled for a year. Now I’ve returned to the UK, I’ve established myself as an independent consultant, working on a wide range of problems, revisiting my simulation expertise and returning to some of the other areas I remember from my studies, including data mining and other techniques.

At the time of writing, I am working in Australia, developing simulations and approaches to help the Australian Defence Organisation reduce risks in a number of large acquisition programmes. I still look fondly back at my time in Edinburgh as the first big step on the journey that’s brought me here.

George Petrou (2003)

The decision to go to Edinburgh for the MSc in Operational Research wasn’t an easy one. In terms of optimization, the problem was multi-stage, multi-objective and stochastic… and as far as I know, there is no obvious methodology for this kind of problem! Having finished my Mathematics degree at the University of Athens back in 2002, I was looking for Masters degree in Operational Research, oriented mainly towards the area of optimization, without neglecting the management aspect, of course.

However, there was also another important element, not well known to many people coming from abroad: apart from the studies, the city of Edinburgh is a place that is well worth living in. It is one of the most lively cities in the UK, full of cultural events, keeping up your spirits even during the worst studying periods! And, of course, the highlight of all these is the festival in August that no one should miss.

At the end of the day, I strongly believe that I made the right choice, not only because of the quality of my studies, made even more satisfying by the stimulating social environment, but also by looking at the evolution of my subsequent career. I did my Masters dissertation project with France Télécom in Paris, leading directly to them financing a PhD on applications of operational research in telecommunications. Even before finishing my thesis, I had already found my current position in Research and Development at EDF, where nowadays I’m working on developing optimization techniques for middle-term electricity production management! It sounds good, but I can assure you that it feels even better!