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University of Glasgow School of Mathematics and Statistics Away Day

It was an absolute pleasure to accept an invitation to participate in an Away Day with The University of Glasgow’s School of Mathematics and Statistics recently. Not only are they a tremendous academic institution with some outstandingly talented people – they’re also the University where I studied back in the day!

Having met Dr Ludger Evers recently at The Data Lab’s MSc. Launch event, I was honoured when he and Professor E Marian Scott OBE asked me along to meet with them and their students on Wednesday 7 December at the Blythswood Hotel in Glasgow.

Their Away Day focussed on the commercial application of the students’ learnings to date with specific focus on their experiences on a 1-year Industrial Placement, the lessons that could be passed on from experiences on these placements to students about to participate in the programme and for a wider discussion around the commercial landscape for Mathematics and Statistics skills in Scotland, the UK and beyond.

Our day began with a free-flowing round table discussion of the above subjects chaired by Marian. I was genuinely impressed with the knowledge, passion and humility shown by some seriously intelligent people. Thoughts were expanded, ideas and experiences shared and my input was sought on the wider contextual issue around where the skills gained by the students in their studies and on their placements would fit into the wider commercial environment.

After a short break for coffee and some shortbread it was time for me to present an overview of the commercial landscape that these students will be entering into in the not-too-distant future. I explored the hard and soft skills that employers are keen to see in aspirant Data Scientists with the group, the economic impact and benefit of harnessing mathematics and statistics skills that we see on a constant basis by working with both academic and commercial organisations and to field any questions from the students around their future transition from academia into commerce.

The one area we explored thoroughly throughout the day was the massive demand for advanced numeric skills married to strong interpersonal and communications abilities. The students were acutely aware of the need for them to be able to produce “actionable insight” and to engage with non-technical colleagues in a manner that led to successful collaborations. I helped the students to understand and investigate the wider potential for these skills – outside of traditional markets – and to consider their future career options with a view to what might come next, rather than what has happened previously.

With MBN Solutions’ recent award of The Data Lab’s MSc. Placement Programme Project and the work that we have been doing with academic institutions throughout the country over the last year or so, it is genuinely exciting to meet, engage and work with the fantastic talent that the Universities in this country are helping to produce and I look forward to continued collaborations with The University of Glasgow and the rest of our academic establishments in future.