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Case Study: Iain

Personal details
Degree:Statistics Profile picture
School(s): School of Mathematics and Statistics
Year of Graduation:Jun-2006
National of: United Kingdom
Employment details
Organisation: SIAS Ltd
Job title: Transportation Consultant
Occupational Sector: Transportation
What has been your route to getting your current position?

The company had placed an advert on the Career Centre Website. I made contact by email on a Thursday afternoon, was invited for an interview on the following Tuesday & to submit a CV, then was offered the job the morning after the interview with a start date of the following week.

This was the first interview I'd been for after deciding this would be an industry I'd be interested in working in (Feb 2007). Luck obviously played its part, as the company were losing someone from with a mathematics background who they were keen to replace. I joined the company as an Assistant Transportation Consultant—a graduate level position. About three years later I was promoted to my current position as a Transportation Consultant, reflecting my increased level of experience.

What does your job involve ?

Most of the work we do involves building transport models. To do this, as well as recreating the road network on a computer, a lot of work has to go into collating other datasets (e.g. traffic count data, data about travel patterns from the Census or data about current & future land use) to support this and ensure the model reflects on-the-ground conditions. These models may used to, for example, test out the impact of building a new road or re-configuring a junction.

SIAS also development in-house and sell traffic modelling software called S Paramics. Like all the technical staff in the company, another part of my role involves offering support to our community of users, testing new features and working with the programmers to improve future versions.

What are the best bits of your job ?

(1) I get to solve complex problems. (2) Being set a task without a method being specified on how to achieve the outcome, meaning I can choose how to get from start to end.

Why were you successful?

As noted above, luck had a lot to do with me getting the job in the first instance. I am confident my strong academic record, though, made my then prospective employers sit up and take an interest in my potential. As to why I have been successful since then, I think this has been built on:

  • an ability able to learn other software quickly
  • good Excel skills
  • I have a good handle on numbers
  • being creative enough to think of better ways of doing things

I also always am keen to learn and develop my skills and knowledge. To this end, since September 2009, I have had my employer's support too to study part-time for an MSc in Transport Planning and Engineering.

What skills/ knowledge from your degree have you found particularly helpful in this role?

The exposure I had to programming during my degree has served me very well.

What advice would you give to students wishing to follow the same path?

If going into an industry that you have no experience of or have not trained in, make sure you have good general work skills (e.g. managing a workflow) so that you don't need to learn this stuff.