GORS Career Stories - Jonathan

Read about Jonathan's journey in GORS in his own words

Reasons for joining GORS

My main motivation to join the Civil Service and GORS in particular was that it presented an exciting opportunity to apply what I had learnt at University; giving me the chance to tackle important and complex real world problems, striving to make a positive difference. Becoming a member of the GORS community would also put me in a position to specialise in a technical area that I find fascinating.

Career path and experience

I completed a year-long general analytical placement in the Department of Health as part of my Maths degree. This gave me a taste of working in the Civil Service and helped me recognise that Operational Research as a profession was a good fit for me. During my final year of University, I applied for the GORS Fast Stream and Mainstream. I didn’t make it through the Fast Stream Assessment Centre, but I passed the Mainstream interview.

I joined the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) as an OR in September 2018, working in the Statistical Project Delivery team in Justice Statistics. This team was effectively an internal consultancy and the role gave me the opportunity to work on a variety of projects ranging from implementing the automation of statistical publications to organising and running department-wide training in the R language.  I worked at the MoJ for just over a year before moving on promotion to the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) where I am currently working in the National Buildings Model (NBM) team. At first I wasn’t sure how regularly commuting in to London would work out, however utilising flexible working, working from home and the technology available made my routine adaptable and allowed me to fit work around my other priorities, helping maintain my work life balance whilst in both roles.

Current Responsibilities

In the DESNZ National Buildings Model team, one of our key responsibilities is managing a complex discrete event simulation model which is used to simulate energy-related behaviour for homes in Great Britain. This model is used by teams across the department to estimate the effect certain policies would have on national energy metrics (like the score on your home’s Energy Performance Certificate) and determine the best potential courses of action to optimise energy savings. The NBM can be used to provide quantitative data on our expectations for the future under a range of scenarios.

We are now in the process of moving the NBM over from its old implementation into Python, working with contractors to re-write the model and eventually redeploy it within the department. Other projects I have worked on in this role include writing model code to simulate implementing policies, experimenting with a range of datasets to improve our energy use predictions, and creating an interactive app in R Shiny to help ministers visualise climate policy.

Life in GORS

Working as part of GORS puts you in contact with people who are experts in their fields and willing to share their experience. The breadth of knowledge within my department is huge and the variety of projects and techniques people have used for highly influential analysis is massive. The GORS conference gives you a glimpse into the work ORs do in the Civil Service and shows off the most interesting and ground-breaking projects Civil Servants have been working on.

There is a community of ORs within DESNZ which provides many learning opportunities through study groups and knowledge shares. A lot of work is going in to expanding these sessions across departments and there are regular GORS newsletters which summarise key events and information to help keep you up to date with the latest news in the profession.

From: Government Operational Research Service