Elizabeth enjoys the freedom and challenges of statistical modelling and being able to see the results of her work
How did you get your job?
After completing a degree in mathematics with French language at the University of Sheffield, I didn't know what I wanted to do. I applied for a number of jobs in finance but didn't end up getting a job. I was then offered a funded PhD position by my Masters project supervisor, which I accepted as the topic seemed very interesting.
During my PhD I became more involved with the Royal Statistical Society (RSS), becoming a committee member of the Young Statisticians Section (YSS). As part of the YSS I met a lot of different people at events and became good friends with many of the committee members.
Approaching completion of my PhD I was at an RSS networking event with other YSS committee members. One of these members has his own company, Global Sports Statistics, which turned out to be recruiting a PhD-level statistician. After a few conversations about the sector and the style of work I was offered, and accepted, a position as quantitative analyst.
Getting involved in societies or activities that are unrelated to your studies really helps you to understand what's available to you at your career stage
What relevant skills did you gain from your study?
My PhD is in statistics with applications to genetics. During my PhD I worked with very large datasets, as is the case with sports data. However, the most valuable skills I developed during my PhD include independent working, problem solving and statistical modelling.
What are your main work activities?
As a relatively new employee, I spend the first hour or two of my day working to improve my programming knowledge. I then spend the remaining time working on specific tasks. Some of the work is done independently with numerous discussions with my boss - very similar to PhD research, but condensed into a much shorter time frame. Other tasks are performed with other members of the team.
How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?
I'm still very new to my role, but I've already noticed that the tasks I am being assigned have become more technical, such as working on improving current models and developing new models. Given that I've only recently started my job, I'm not sure what my long-term career ambitions are at the moment.
In the short term, however, I'm looking forward to understanding more about the current modelling performed at the company, with the aim of being able to improve and develop these models successfully.
What do you enjoy about your job?
I enjoy the freedom and challenges of the statistical modelling side of the job and being able to see the results/effectiveness/success of the models relatively quickly. The application to sport means that there's a relaxed atmosphere in the office with football matches or sports news programmes often showing on the TV screens.
As a consultancy company we don't only work on one sport. We model many different sports and have opportunities to get involved in many different areas. For me, being able to apply the same techniques to different data and different problems keeps the work new and interesting.
What are the most challenging parts of your job?
In order for results to be available in real time, there are many different approaches to statistical modelling that I've not yet studied, but are now very important. Working with big data and complex models quickly is very challenging and requires a different mentality from what I've been used to.
It's also important to leave any sports related prejudices at the door and focus on the data and model outcomes - as a very biased Ipswich Town fan, this isn't easy.
Any advice for someone who wants to get into this job?
Sports statistics has recently seen a big boom in the number of companies working on this type of modelling. However, this is still not a massive employment sector, so getting in isn't easy. I was very lucky to be in the right place at the right time with the right contact and having made the right impression to get my job.
Being involved in the RSS, and particularly the YSS, has allowed me to make contacts and to meet many other people in statistics. Getting involved in societies or activities that are unrelated to your studies really helps you to understand what's available to you at your career stage, rather than just the stereotypical careers that you automatically think of.