‘The best careers event ever…': case studies from the NMS careers day

Listening attentively to a speaker

Listening attentively to a speaker

The NMS Careers Day this week was a great success, with 60 PhDs and post-docs attending and listening to ten employers talk about their transition from PhD and post-doc onwards.

Key learning points from our opening speaker, Robert Bowles from the Royal Society of Chemistry:


  • Industry is changing – look at SMEs as well as large corporates as they are outsourcing much of their R&D
  • Use the professional body for your sector area (eg Royal Societies and Institutes – eg see IMA for maths, RSC (Chemistry), IOP (Physics) and so on) for networking, jobs, other opportunities, and news
  • Your subject matter may not be what gets you recruited, but instead the high level analytical skills you bring – consider your values and interests when thinking about moving on.

Steffen Zschaler, Senior Lecturer at King’s, talked about his role as an academic.

  • Remember that PhDs from other countries have more time to be building a CV, as their PhDs take longer.  Other countries might consider a 3/4 year UK PhD to be pretty short.  How will you write about it in your application?
  • What do academics actually do?  Steffen spends less than a third of his time conducting ‘research’ – he tries to steal some research time from his teaching and admin, but it is tricky.  A good third of his time is spent in administrative tasks, and there is a lot of marking involved in the large subject cohorts.
  • The best thing about the role is the freedom it brings.

Parimal Patel – Schroders

Parimal began his academic career at the University of Leicester, graduating in 2002 with an MPhys in Astrophysics. After completing a PhD in this topic in Nottingham, in 2006 Parimal made the transition into the corporate world, becoming an analyst, for Standard Bank plc. In this role Parimal was able to put his studies to use, particularly with regard to developing pricing models and analysis. Since 2013, he has been operating in risk analysis at Schroders.

Adele Julien – Researchers in Schools

Adele is in the third year of her PhD at The Open University. Her PhD research focuses on pollen-vegetation relationships in Ghana and pollen wall chemistry. This work helps to inform the interpretation of the pollen fossil record, which in turn aids our understanding of climate change over time. Alongside her studies, Adele is actively involved with The Brilliant Club, the organisation that oversees the Researchers in Schools initiative. Adele works closely with the RIS Head Office team to educate organisations and institutions about the scheme, which places PhDs in secondary schools as trainee teachers whilst allowing them to maintain a research profile.  She also regularly speaks about the research that is produced through the initiative within universities. She has also experienced what it’s like to be on placement through the RIS program.

Neal O’Riain – Pivigo

Neal is the Community Manager at Pivigo, a data science training and recruiting company. Originally from Ireland, Neal has a PhD in Astrophysics from Trinity College, Dublin, and in his research career he worked on modelling the atmospheres of stars. During his time in academia he was heavily involved in science engagement and education. He is the founder of Student2Scientist, a science education initiative funded by Google and SFI, aimed at introducing computing centrally in the Irish STEM curriculum. At Pivigo Neal’s role is to support PhDs in their transition from academia to jobs in Data Science.

Jassel Majevadia – IBM

A scientist by training, Jassel completed a PhD on the fracture properties of materials for nuclear applications, where she worked within the faculties of metallurgy, mechanical engineering and condensed matter theory. It was here that Jassel first developed her programming skills using C++, Fortran, Python and SQL. This experience supported her in making her transition into the commercial realm, and at current her work at IBM is focused on delivering Proof of Concepts for cross-industry analytical solutions. At Imperial College London, Jassel founded an international summer school and conference on materials science and communications and also participated in a significant amount of science communication work, including presenting on the Discovery channel. Jassel is a passionate advocate of disseminating academic science within the public realm and regularly speaks for organisations such as Soapbox Science.

Karola Graupner & Alexei Mulko – Government Operations Research Scheme

Karola currently acts as an Operational Researcher at the Ministry of Justice, where she is involved in analysing statistics relating to the Criminal Justice system. Her academic background sits in physics, and she completed her PhD at Queen’s University Belfast. Following on from her studies, Karola continued to operate in a HE setting both as a Research Associate at Loughborough and as Assistant Laboratory Manager and the University of Oxford. She also holds a PGCE, and thus her varied background means that she is happy to advise people from a range of perspectives when it comes to answering the question What’s next? following the completion of your PhD.

Alexei holds a PhD in Mathematics from the Lobachevski State University (Russia). His area of research was systems of differential equations with periodic functions, existence of limit cycles and stationary points and analytical structure of the systems’ first integrals. Prior to this, Alexei completed an MSc in Financial Engineering from Birkbeck, where his area of research was commodities and commodity derivatives pricing. Within GORS, he worked as an operational researcher at the Department for Education (DfE) and later – Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). He is the leading analyst in carbon pricing at DECC and his work consists of developing pricing models and providing modelling advice across the government as well as driving the EU ETS policy development via analysis, impact assessments and engagement with the government and external stakeholders.

Judith McMarron – Elekta

Judith acts as functional lead within her team at Elekta and also works closely with the company’s Regulatory and Quality Assurance group. Prior to her commercial career, Judith studied a wide range of core physics and maths at The University of Manchester before moving onto The University of Edinburgh where she completed her PhD in Elementary Particle Physics, which was part of a project with CERN.

Stephen Harrison – Capco

As a consultant within the Innovation & Digital practises at Capco, Stephen delivers large complex programs that intersect innovation, strategy, technology and financial services. Stephen has been lead developer and product owner for a number of pieces of software, including both mobile and web-based applications for retail banks and internally at Capco. He is also part of the Digital R&D team, exploring new and leading-edge technologies such as machine learning, Blockchain and big data analysis. He has a 1:1 in Astrophysics, and a PhD in Theoretical Physics, both from University College London.

Notes by Aimee Wilde, Employer Engagement Officer, King’s Careers & Employability

Career Spotlight: Data Science

It was great to see so many of you at the Consultancy event last week.  A write up will follow soon on this blog.

Next week, we will be hearing from three people who work in data science.  Find out more about how your analytic, programming and data skills can work in industry.

Dr Kim Nilsson, Pivigo:

Kim is an Astrophysics PhD turned Entrepreneur. She is the CEO of Pivigo, an organisation focused on supporting analytical MScs and PhDs in their career transitions into data science roles. She is passionate about people, data and connecting the two.

Dr Ana Costa e Silva, TIBCO:

Ana has 15 years experience with data, undergraduate studies in Business and a PhD in computer science (AI) from the Edinburgh University. She has previously been a manager economic statistician for the Statistics department of the Portuguese Central Bank and a researcher of the inner workings of the global stock market for Edinburgh Partners.

Dr Zach Izham, Hewlett Packard

Zach has a PhD in Mechanical Engineering and after several roles in aero-engineering, is now responsible for designing, implementing and testing solutions for data analytics and machine learning for clients in insurance/ banking/automotive industries and also governmental agencies from a ‘data science’ perspective.

  • Time: Weds 10th Feb, 5.30-6.30pm
  • Place: Franklin Wilkins Building, Waterloo campus, room 1.70
  • No need to book

PhD Opportunities in Finance and Data Science

phds-finance-comp-sciResearch students and young professionals are invited to attend a half-day conference.

Wednesday 24 June 2015, 13:00 – 17:00

University College London
Cruciform B304 LT1, Cruciform Building, Gower Street,London, WC1E 6BT

UCL’s Centre for Doctoral Training in Financial Computing & Analytics is organising a conference to bring together university researchers and industry professionals to discuss future directions and job opportunities in finance and data science.

Topics will include algorithmic trading, financial mathematics, health analytics, fintech, people analytics, consulting, computational advertising and deep learning.This event will be of interest to PhD students, Post Docs, industry professionals and companies seeking to recruit PhDs to work in finance and data science.

Speakers include: Mike Lynch (Invoke Capital), John Loizides (Citi), Jessica James (Commerzbank), George Calderbank (Winton Capital), Clare Finn-Levy (Essentia Analytics), Giles Pavey (Tesco dunnhumby), Alan Payne (BUPA), Thore Graepel (Google Deep Mind), Orlando Machado (Moneysupermarket.com) and Ray Eitel (Accenture).

Register your interest

Please send any questions to:
Yonita Cater y.carter@ucl.ac.uk

Thinking of heading into the City?

Perhaps the event at BCG has pricked your interest?  Take a look at this course and find out more.

The City Course has been running for 30 years and provides an unprecedented opportunity for University of London students to compare and contrast different options working in finance.  Visiting well-known companies and hearing from senior HR recruiters, you have the opportunity to test yourself in business games, and learn more about how finance fits together.

King’s early career researchers often tell say they find it difficult to get experiences outside of their academic studies: here’s a perfect opportunity.

Application is by CV and cover letter, and you can find glowing testimonials from past participants on the website link above!

Get in touch with Careers & Employability if you’d like help with your CV etc.



Neuroscience PhD recommends the City course

Fahd Choudhry now works in Consulting at Deloitte

What did you enjoy most about the City Course?
The opportunity to meet lots of different firms across the City, gaining an insight into different jobs available (and going to the Lloyds of London building)

How did the City Course help you clarify what you wanted to do in your career?
It helped to give me a starting point from which I could look at the firms who I may be interested in applying for.

Could you give a brief description of your current role and an idea of typical activities or issues you deal with?
As a Consulting Analyst my role is help businesses solve a variety of problems – strategic, operational or technical. This will include documenting current or future processes, coming up with solutions to identified problems or supporting the project management

How did you find out about this option and how did you get into it?
Consulting was an area which I wanted to get into, so I did a lot of research, attended many recruitment events and spokes to people in the industry to get a further understanding about what they do.

What are the most and least enjoyable aspects of this role?
Good: I work with some amazing people, get given a lot of responsibility and I am able to contribute to the completion of some really interesting projects. Bad: some projects are not so interesting or the role given is tedious, work can focus more on outcomes rather than discussion, and the hours can be quite intense.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is thinking about a career in City and Finance?
Persevere – there is a lot of competition for positions so it is important to know what you want to apply for and to keep at it.

Fahd graduated in 2002 from the University of Aberdeen with a Bsc in Biomedical Sciences. He completed his PhD in Neuroscience from King’s College London in 2009


To apply go to the City Course page.

Updated March 2013