‘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

Calling all NMS PhDs and Research Staff! New employers added to your careers event

NMS Careers Day posterSign up here!

What will you get out of attending this event?

  • Inspiration as to paths people with NMS PhDs take after they’ve completed (all our employer guests have PhDs)
  • An overview of the market for people with your kind of PhD or research experience
  • Information, advice and guidance from experienced employers
  • Experience of talking to a range of employers (though they are not here to recruit!)
  • Challenges to your current career thinking!
  • Opportunity to get your CV checked.

More employers added, including Cisco, AWE, Elekta (medical physics), Capco (consulting), GORS and IBM.

Looking forward to meeting you soon!

Case Studies: Data Science careers

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.

Kim realised that, despite being a Hubble astronomer, academia was not for her.  She undertook an MBA and worked briefly in financial services before setting up her own company.  Pivigo helps researchers gain commercial experience that will help them into a data science career.

On the day she spoke, there were 4003 jobs on LinkedIn with the title ‘data scientist’.  A starting salary will be £35-£50k.  The different sectors include commerce, operations, consumer marketing, local government and charities.

Key skills include Python, R and Java.  You need to have curiosity and scepticism, and ability to communicate and some business awareness.  Your CV needs to show HOW you apply your data skills to problems.

Check out MOOCs on Coursera, competitions on Kaggle or create your own data challenge!

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.

Ana’s company helps businesses understand their data and start to respect their customers.  Her data analysis helps to optimise pricing, check for fraud, re-route transport (eg container ships avoiding storms and finding available docking).  She helps the engineers in the company make their products look better (eg in oil and gas, optimising engineering tools, and in healthcare, getting sensors to call nurses when there are changes in patient data).  One client was a casino company, MGM Resorts, and they looked at historic data to see which punters had not yet lost too much money: these people were texted with offers at other entertainment places and then encouraged back, as data demonstrated that people who had not lost too much were more likely to come back and spend more money.

Dr Zach Izham, Hewlett Packard Enterprise

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.

He talked about why he left academia, citing the main reason as being that it would not be possible to earn enough money.  He works for HPE where he helps businesses leverage their data to run a more efficient business.  Issues he encounters are where servers don’t talk to each other and he has to find solutions to problems.  He encourage attendees to be picky about the business they choose to work in and consider starting their own business.

He says that AI becomes Machine Learning when it is mainstream, such as the self-driving car.

Interesting courses include Andrew Lung’s Coursera course and you should check out SiliconMilkRoundabout (jobs fair for tech people).

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

Spring Data Science Fellowship Opportunity

Program: The Data Incubator is a Cornell-funded data science training organization. It runs an intensive 8 week fellowship that prepares masters, PhDs, and postdocs in STEM and social science fields seeking industry careers as data scientists. The program is free for Fellows and supported by sponsorships from hundreds of employers across multiple industries.

Locations: There will be both an in-person (in NYC, DC, SF) and online section of the fellowship. There is a common application for both the online and in-person sections.

Dates: All sections will be from 21-03-2016 to 13-05-2016

Application Link: http://www.thedataincubator.com/#apply?ref=wcHJvc3BlY3RpdmVAa2NsLmFjLnVr

Data Science in 30 minutes: Join our free webcast on building a data science project in 30 minutes. Signup soon as space is limited: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/data-science-in-thirty-minutes-tickets-19840055139.

Who Should Apply: Anyone within one year of graduating from a master’s or PhD program or who has already obtained a master’s or PhD is welcome to apply. Applications from international students are welcome. Everyone else is encouraged to sign-up for a future session.

Learn More: You can learn about our fellows at The New York Times or Palantir. To read about our latest fellow alumni, check out blog. To learn more about The Data Incubator, check us out on Venture Beat, The Next Web, or Harvard Business Review.