|Department:||Departmet for Business, Innovation and Skills|
|Education:||MPhys Physics, PhD Plasma Physics|
Although I started out as a scientist, I’ve always had an interest in politics. During my PhD in Physics I took a three month gap to work as a science advisor at the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology. This made me I realised that I wanted a career that used my analytical and scientific skills to assist policy making and try to do something beneficial for society. I had a great time during my placement in Parliament but the work involved summarising other peoples’ research without ever finding anything out for myself, which I found slightly unsatisfying. I was worried I’d have to sacrifice doing analysis if I was going to move into a job advising policy makers. After a bit of research online I stumbled across the GORS recruitment page on the Civil Service Fast Stream website. I’d never heard of OR but it felt like this was exactly the career I’d been looking for without even knowing it existed.
After completing my degree in physics I decided I wanted to try research and started a PhD studying plasmas in magnetic fusion energy devices. Although this was a very specific and technical area of study I had to learn lots of generic analytical techniques and develop a systematic way of tackling problems. I enjoyed research but found that I was focussing on an increasingly narrow area, which became frustrating by the end of my PhD. Working in GORS struck me as a good way to use the analytical skills I had developed while being able to work on broadly defined problems where it was necessary to see the big picture.
I was accepted onto the GORS Fast Stream in summer 2012 and started work at the end of October after submitting my PhD. I was allocated to the Higher Education analysis team in the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS).
I’m responsible for the analysis of Government expenditure on student loans and grants. This includes forecasting expenditure several years into the future and estimating the costs or savings associated with new policy ideas. My biggest project so far has been to rebuild the main student finance expenditure model to improve the quality assurance process behind the forecasting of these large and volatile budgets. The project involved reviewing all the assumptions and the purpose of the model, stripping out any unnecessary detail and laying it out in a very clear and readable format. I also made a Monte Carlo simulation wrapper for the model so that we could provide plausible budget ranges to the finance team.
I worked with the team responsible for putting together our division’s bid for the 2012 spending review. This involved identifying possible savings on the student finance budget and estimating the potential impacts. I also had to work closely with analysts in the other Government departments that have some responsibility for student finance budgets. This was a fast paced project that often involved working to tight deadlines but it was also a high profile area and there was a considerable amount of news coverage about our work during that period.
I definitely feel part of the GORS community both within my department and across departments through the wide range of events run by the GORS profession. In particular, I’ve found that there are lots of opportunities to play an active role in the GORS Fast Stream Analyst community, as this is a very new and evolving part of the profession. I’m also my department’s representative on the GORS events committee, which involves organising a couple of events each year and promoting other events to GORS members in my department. I recently organised a GORS social trip to Bletchley Park and the National Museum of Computing, which was a really fun day out and a great opportunity to meet other GORS members from around the country.