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OR56 - Plenary Speakers

We are very pleased to announce, that we have 3 excellent Plenary speakers this year for OR56.  They are,  (in alphabetical order),  Ursula Brennan, Permanent Secretary at MOJ (Ministry of Justice), Andrew Jennings, Chief Analytics Officer at FICO, (Fair Isaac Corporation) and Stewart Robinson, Professor of Management Science at Loughborough University and President of the OR Society.

Ursula Brennan


The need for analytical thinking in policy development
The UK Government has a long established reputation in policy making, with Ministers supported by a dedicated civil service, including (in more recent history) a separate cadre of analysts to support policymakers.  However, it is not clear that this approach is helping us to make the best use of data and analysis across government.  Recently we have identified gaps in the ability of policy managers to understand and manage information; analytical teams with this ability are not always engaged early enough by policy makers; and, perhaps as a result of both of these, information is often presented in ways which do not help the decision making process. 
Our efforts to make better use of the Government’s analytical teams, and to grow the data and analysis skills of the policy profession, have re-inforced the importance of analytical thinking.  This is already recognised in Government guidance on choosing and evaluating a policy (the Green and Magenta Books), but it can also play a valuable role in the all-important early stages of the policy cycle.

Analytical thinking at these stages is vital to help clarify the requirement and objectives of the policy, but also to spark creative thinking to identify potential policy options.  This will be demonstrated through case studies of the use of Operational Research approaches, including problem structuring methods from national, sub-regional and local levels, which have helped analysts and policymakers to remain open-minded, to engage stakeholders and to consider the policy from multiple perspectives.

Short biography.

Ursula Brennan has been Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) since July 2012. As Principal Accounting Officer, Ursula is responsible for all spending and for leadership of the Department. She is also Clerk of the Crown in Chancery. The MoJ has a budget of £8 billion and is responsible for running the courts, tribunals and prisons in England and Wales, and for the administration of legal aid, probation and youth justice, as well as for policy on human rights and data protection.

Prior to joining MoJ, Ursula was the first woman Permanent Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Defence, responsible for the leadership of the Department (with the Chief of the Defence Staff) and for the organisation, management and staffing of MOD, with a budget of £36 billion and nearly 300,000 Service and civilian personnel. At MOD Ursula’s key challenges ranged from delivering a balanced budget in response to the Strategic Defence and Security Review to reforming the safety regulation of military aviation. Prior to that, as 2nd Permanent Secretary, she was responsible for a range of cross-departmental business, including acquisition reform, safety and governance and business process. In her role in Defence, Ursula was a trustee of the Imperial War Museum and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Prior to the MOD, Ursula had a varied career in the civil service, including a previous role as Director General (DG) in the Ministry of Justice (MoJ); the Chief Executive of the Office for Criminal Justice Reform (supporting the three criminal justice departments in working together to provide an improved service to the public); and as a DG in Defra responsible for the strategy for rural disadvantage, and protection of wildlife and the countryside. Before moving to Defra in 2004 Ursula spent most of her career in what is now the Department for Work and Pensions, working on a range of welfare policy and delivery issues, and on IT delivery.

Ursula is married and has a degree in English and American Literature from the University of Kent at Canterbury and an Honorary Doctorate from the university. Ursula was made a DCB in the New Year’s Honours 2013.


Andrew Jennings


The analytics behind a day in the life of a credit card.
Retail banking was one of the very first industries to adopt analytics as a foundation of their operating mode. Today it is central to just about every decision and one of the best examples of a success story of the impact that analytics can have on a business.  The most advanced  application of analytics in banking can be found in credit card management.  Today models drive everything from who gets a card, under what terms, authorisation of transactions for credit or fraud reasons to how delinquent accounts are treated. It is not an overstatement to say today card issuers compete on the strength of their analytic capabilities.  
In this talk I will demonstrate how pervasive the use of data and models have become to decision making and profitability describing current practice and also touching on some future developments. I will highlight that there is much more to being successful than collecting data and building predictive models.  Success requires an understanding of the basics of statistical experimentation,regulation and  operational constraints all of which have significant implications for the ways models are designed and deployed and ultimately determine the value they deliver.

Short biography

Andrew Jennings joined FICO (Fair Isaac Corporation) in 1994 as director of our European operations in the U.K.  Since then he has managed a number of business units including Financial Services, Customer Management Solutions and International sales and delivery.  He is currently Senior Vice President and Chief Analytics Officer responsible for analytic strategy and analytic development. Immediately before taking this role he was responsible for software and analytic product management of FICO’s Origination, Fraud, Customer Management and Collections offerings.  Prior to joining FICO, Jennings worked in credit risk management for Abbey National plc and Barclays plc.  He also served as a lecturer in economics and econometrics at the University of Nottingham.   He has a BA and Ph.D. in economics, and an MSc in Agricultural Economics


Stewart Robinson


The “Analytics” Society
“Analytics” seems to be everywhere, job adverts abound, companies talk of their analytics capabilities, the press regularly report on activities in analytics and our every move seems to be tracked and analysed through the internet, mobile communications and social media.  We certainly live in an analytics society.  Although there is much in common between analytics and OR, there are also strands that bear little relation to our field.  So what does this mean for us as OR practitioners and academics?  And what does it mean for the OR Society?  In this talk I shall reflect upon my own analytics journey which started in around 2007.  We shall ask “what is analytics?” and trace its genesis.  Is it just another fad or something that will stay?  We shall finish by thinking about what this means for us, asking the greatest of all taboos: should we become the Analytics Society?

Short biography

Stewart Robinson is Professor of Management Science and Associate Dean Research at Loughborough University, School of Business and Economics.  Previously employed in simulation consultancy, he supported the use of simulation in companies throughout Europe and the rest of the world.  He is author/co-author of five books on simulation.  His research focuses on the practice of simulation model development and use.  Key areas of interest are conceptual modelling, model validation, output analysis and alternative simulation methods (discrete-event, system dynamics and agent based).  Stewart is co-founder of the Journal of Simulation and the Simulation Workshop conference series.  He helped lead the development of the first OR-based Masters course in Analytics in the UK and currently he is helping to lead an OR Society Charitable Project on Analytics Education.  Home page: