Yes, but what do you *actually* do?

Yes, but what do you *actually* do?

So a few weeks ago we were at Birkbeck work and learn fair, and then last week we were at Blenheim High School attending their careers fair. Think lots of students on the hunt for the best freebies. Good job we give out free pens and keyrings then!

One of the questions we get a lot though, is what actually is Operational Research (O.R.) and it’s a good question! We’ve had a new temp staff member in the office this week to help with the administration side of things and I’m sure she didn’t completely understand what we did either – so you are not alone!

In a nutshell, operational research (O.R.) is the discipline of applying advanced analytical methods to help make better decisions. That’s our definition of it – you can find out more on our website.

According to Lancaster Uni … “Operational Research (OR) is the use of advanced analytical techniques to improve decision making. It is sometimes known as operations research, management science or industrial engineering”. Pretty similar to our definition as well then…

Or, as Informs says .. “O.R. is the application of scientific & mathematical methods to the study & analysis of problems involving complex systems”. Again, basically what we said! (Fact #3 Wondering what informs is? Wonder no more - Informs is the international association for Operations Research & Analytics professionals).

So, now we’ve told you what O.R is, how about saying it in plain English?! In a sentence, I like to sum it up as using numbers, data and evidence to make the right decisions. As a school child said a few months ago at Mounts Bay Academy (it’s all in the previous blog…) ‘You need to know the mean number of cups everyone’s making, because then you need to know whether someone’s better than average or worse than average at making cups – and then you know whether to fire them’. This was a theoretical situation but she nailed the principal! You’re using data (and in this case statistics) to make a decision and decide if they’re any good. Are they more productive than average? Yes? In that case, they’re good and you probably want to keep them. Are they making less cups than they should be? If so, they’re not very good and you maybe should look at re-training them (not quite the extreme option of firing them…).

O.R. and Analytics are used in incredible ways, to inform high-level strategy, enhance day-to-day operations, design better public policies, and more. So it’s used everywhere, by everyone. (Fact #4 – You could work for the Government, BA, NATS or maybe a big corporate company like EY). All these companies, plus loads more take on O.R. analysts. Sounds like a pretty good career option to me! (Fact #5 - We run a careers fair every year in Birmingham, this years one is on the 15 November 2017 at Millennium Point in Birmingham
from 10am to 4pm. It's free to attend and rather useful if you're thinking about O.R. as a career).

Interested? Bored? Hopefully not the latter ….

Tweet us @ORinSchools or @TheORSociety or drop us an email:

Fact #3 – Check out informs at

Fact #4 – A list of employers is available here -

Fact #5 - See what the careers fair is all about at


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