Operational researchers provide the quantitative and qualitative information that improves strategies, decision-making and processes.
They examine the way an organization operates, using mathematical and analytical techniques to help it to develop better business practices and systems.
Employers of operational researchers
- Consulting and professional services firms
- Transport and logistics companies
- Financial organizations
- Commercial and industrial organizations, such as engineering firms, retailers and technology companies
- interviewing managers and staff;
- gathering relevant hard and soft data from systems and personnel at various levels within the organization;
- defining the problem and the results you would like to achieve;
- collecting and analyzing data and developing models, often using spreadsheets, databases and pragmatic, numerical approaches to solve problems;
- using analytical methods, such as simulation, network analysis, decision analysis, multi-criteria analysis, scenario analysis, soft-systems modelling, optimization, game theory and queuing theory;
- using mathematical programming techniques, including linear programming;
- using statistical methods and testing hypotheses;
- identifying innovative and pragmatic solutions to clients’ management problems and testing these solutions;
- feeding in results and helping to implement chosen options;
- compiling a report of findings and making presentations to clients, often requiring clear and persuasive explanation of complex processes to a non-technical audience.
You need to be a graduate to at least bachelors-level to become an operational researcher. Relevant degree subjects include:
- business studies;
- life and medical science;
- management science;
- operational research;
- the ability to identify and deploy appropriate advanced analytical techniques;
- a strong understanding of mathematical concepts;
- the ability to turn raw mathematical data into meaningful information;
- good interpersonal and communication skills to explain solutions clearly to both technical and non-technical audiences;
- the ability to establish a rapport with colleagues and clients;
- flexibility and the ability to pick up new ideas.