Lloyd Dobson

Country of origin: United Kingdom

Operational Analyst, Defence Science and Technology Laboratories

There are many reasons why people choose to go to university these days: for the student life, to experience a new town, make friends, to learn, and to become employable upon graduation. The  (OR) at Lancaster ticks all of these boxes, and so much more.

Many graduates nowadays complete their undergraduate degrees without the necessary skills to make the transition from university to working life. The MSc OR course at Lancaster will not only make your CV stand out from the crowd, it will prepare you with the professional attributes necessary for a career in this field.

The structure is set out in such a way that it enables all students to study the core modules such as Consultancy Skills, whilst allowing individual freedom to specialise in other areas such as Forecasting or Simulation. There are numerous group exercises throughout the course where the emphasis is on developing personal skills and techniques, rather than purely on grades. These exercises are placed in the context of real-life scenarios, providing opportunities to gain experience at customer meetings and briefings.

The summer project is an important part of the year, and the value it provides is highlighted by the list of organisations that offer projects (e.g. Tesco, Procter & Gamble, Department for Work and Pensions, Defence Logistics Organisation). The customer experiences gained during this time, combined with the time management and reporting skills I learned throughout the year, were invaluable to me when applying for jobs.

I joined the Defence Science and Technology Laboratories (Dstl) shortly after graduating. I was able to hit the ground running when I started, and haven’t really stopped since.

I soon found myself seconded to a multinational military HQ in Germany, whereupon I was posted to Kabul, AFG. My role was that of Operational Analyst (Operational Analysis is the military term for Operational Research) for NATO, as part of the International Security Assistance Force. The Operational Analysis Branch (OAB) is a multinational mix of military and civilian scientists that provide timely, independent, analytical and scientific advice to COMISAF and HQ ISAF staffs to aid decision making over the spectrum of ISAF activities. One of OAB’s main roles is supporting the effects and campaign assessment process.

I have no doubt that without doing my MSc I would not be where I am today. The multinational blend of students provides an opportunity to interact with people from all walks of life, and due to the intense nature of the course very close bonds are formed between the students. If you throw in the beautiful landscape of Lancaster and the surrounding area, it really has all the ingredients for a fantastic year.