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YOR20 – Workshops, Techniques, Guest Speakers + Team Challenge Prize!

At our Young to OR 20 Conference, a series of sessions involving workshops, technique tasters, guest speaker sessions and a team challenge, will be run by experts in their fields. These sessions will give participants the opportunity to learn, collaborate and debate on a wide range of topics. Some workshops will be back-to-back sessions so that participants get chance to attend two different ones. Places at each session may be limited and on a first come first served basis and under-subscribed sessions may be cancelled.

The list of session titles and abstracts are below. Click here for the current schedule
(which may be subject to slight change).   


  • Make your Voice Heard
  • Working with Uncertainty
  • Social Return on Investment
  • Understanding Research & Publishing
  • Mindful OR Practice

Technique Tasters

  • Build a Quantitative Risk Register using @RISK
  • Exploring AnyLogic and Real-World Simulation – Best Practice  

Guest Speakers

  • Robust Optimization: Solving Practical Optimization Problems with Uncertain Data
  • The Power of Nodes & Arcs: How Bayesian Belief Networks help Reason, Predict & Explain
  • Working with Clients – The Key Consultancy Skills

Team Challenge (and a prize to be won!!

  •  Practical Solutions to Complex Problems (sponsored by Polaris Consulting)

Make Your Voice Heard - a workshop to explore what early careers OR people want from the OR Society, and how they can make it happen.
Ruth Kaufman, (President of The OR Society and Independent
At a rough count, the OR Society offers around 25 different services - journals, events, on-line resources, awards, accreditation and a score more.  But very little is specifically aimed at Early Careers professionals. This workshop will invite participants to explore whether there is more that the ORS could or should do, either in developing specific initiatives to support Early Careers professionals, or to ensure that existing initiatives are adequately communicated and designed to include Early Careers people; and to identify what they or their colleagues can do to contribute to this.

Working with Uncertainty - A Workshop on How to Identify and Communicate Uncertainty in Analysis
Will Miller, (Home Office)
Join us for a rollercoaster ride of a workshop! Using the collaborative brain power of the OR community we will explore the inherent uncertainties we all face in analysis, using the problems faced by a Theme Park named AdventORe Land! We will use a range of problem archetypes, from day-to-day crisis management to longer-term strategic modelling projects. We will work through the steps of identifying and understanding the sources of uncertainty, discussing how we work with these, and how we communicate the outcomes effectively to decision makers. Because no one wants to be stuck in a long queue for a broken ride, in a park that’s run out of ice cream…

Social Return on Investment, or, How to Analyse Effectiveness with Very Little Data
Jamie Douglasand Matthew Miller, (DWP)  
How can we, as operational researchers, use our professional skills to help worthy charitable causes?  We were presented with that exact question when we applied to help a local community centre through the ORS pro-bono OR scheme.  By adopting a framework that enabled
us to calculate the social value of the charity’s work, we were able to provide a quantitative analysis of their social return on investment which they can use to secure future funding.  We learned a lot on this journey, and we’ve developed a workshop based on our experience to help you consider how to manage stakeholders, make data work harder, think creatively but analytically, and apply frameworks as problem-structuring techniques.  

Understanding Research & Publishing
Ian Challand, (Taylor & Francis)
Taylor & Francis, a leading academic publisher, are pleased to present a workshop which outlines the practicalities of journals publishing, from deciding what to submit, through the peer review process, and to an overview of post-publication options. Presented by Ian Challand, an experienced Managing Editor, there will also be an opportunity to ask questions at the end of the session. The workshop would be suitable for researchers in academia and those in practice who are interested in maximising their understanding of academic publishing, and to all those interested in maximising the impact of their research.



Mindful OR Practice : Being Open, Kind and Still
Jose-Rodrigo Cordoba-Pachon
, (Royal Holloway University London)
In today's world many people (including OR practitioners) often adopt an automatic pilot mode to deal with their activities and practice.  This often leads to respond automatically to situations by focusing on using the past as an anchor or foreseeing a future (focusing on outcomes).  Ideas of mindfulness and creativity are used in this workshop to encourage OR practitioners to better understand themselves in their practice.  Mindfulness brings the important of being in the present and developing awareness about one's own thoughts and body sensations.  Some mindfulness and creative improvisation techniques are to practised in the workshop to help us generate more and adequate, meaningful choices for thinking, acting and living our OR practice. 
Please note that one of the intentions of the workshop is to generate a collection of thoughts and feelings experienced by participants in order to reflect on them and inform future OR practice.  The facilitator is currently writing a book on creativity and systems thinking and would very much like your input for possible and anonymous inclusion in the book provided you agree to it

Learn How to Build a Quantitative Risk Register Using @RISK
Doug Oldfield, (Palisade)
Palisade’s @RISK software has many applications ranging from cost estimation and demand forecasting through to schedule risk analysis and mineral reserves estimations. One of the most common applications of the tool is in the building of quantitative risk registers which use Monte Carlo simulation to show all possible scenarios. In this session, Palisade will give a run-through of the capabilities of the tool in a risk register context including tornado graphs for sensitivity analysis, modelling mitigation efficacy and then finally looking at optimising mitigation spend. Attendees will then be given a training session to show how quick it is to build up a simple risk register using the tool.
Using @Risk at the workshop:

Attendees will need to have a trial version of @RISK installed on their laptops for this workshop, with free trials being available at Please note that free trials are only valid for 15 days so it is advisable to install trials a few days before the workshop. In the event delegates have expired trials or experience any other issues, please contact Dana on and CC in Doug Oldfield at

Title: Exploring AnyLogic and Real-World Simulation Best-Practice
Stuart Rossiter
, (Decision Lab) 
This workshop aims to introduce you to the capabilities of the AnyLogic simulation tool and discuss some of the realities of what makes simulation projects successful in both commercial and academic
contexts.  We will cover the unique and new features in AnyLogic 8. You will get some hands-on with AnyLogic and we'll also address the 'big questions' such as:

  • Why should I use AnyLogic over other simulation tools?
  • How is it even possible to combine the three modelling approaches 'seamlessly' in AnyLogic?
  • How is agent-based simulation different to discrete-event and system dynamics?
  • What are the main success factors for simulation projects, and how can I use AnyLogic to help me here?
  • Can software engineering teach me any lessons about running simulation projects and designing AnyLogic models?

Using the software
You will need to a copy of AnyLogic Personal Learning Edition (PLE) pre-installed on your laptop. Please follow the link

Title: Robust Optimization: Solving Practical Optimization Problems with Uncertain Data
Pietro Belotti
, (FICO) 
Practical optimization problems often come with uncertainty in their parameters. The uncertainty is due in some cases to inaccurate measurements, in other cases some parameters are unknown at the time of optimization. Often, this uncertainty can be limited to a well-specified uncertainty set. Robust optimization aims at solving these problems by ensuring that all scenarios in the uncertainty set are accounted for, and provides a solution that is proven to be feasible for any realization of the uncertain parameters.

This talk will introduce the robust optimization paradigm and shows the main algorithmic tools to solve a problem under uncertainty. It will then describe two real-world industrial applications where data is uncertain and show how robust optimization offered a practical solution in both cases. The first application is in Network design, where traffic demands are never known accurately. The second use case is in production planning at a major factory where power supply can be interrupted with short notice.

Title: The power of nodes and arcs:  How Bayesian Belief Networks can help you reason, predict and explain.
Sophie Carr, (Bays Consulting Ltd)
You may have heard of Bayes Theorem, but have you ever built a Bayesian Network?  If not, come and learn about how Bayesian networks are being applied in areas from bioinformatics, analytics, sports science, insurance and marketing and how they could help you to in you explaining and predicting results.  You don’t need to code, nor have any knowledge of statistics.  All that is needed is a spark of interest, a willingness to join in and a pencil to draw graphs.  This practical one hour workshop will introduce you to the basic concepts involved in building a Bayesian network with case studies from across the field of operational research.  From the outset you’ll be working with Bayes theorem, building your own network and through group exercises start to investigate the power of a Bayesian network to provide clear audit trails of decisions taken, update results as information arrives and explain results obtained. 

Working with Clients – The Key Consultancy Skills?
Lawrence Phillips, Emeritus Professor of Decision Sciences, Department of Management, LSE
This session explains the three approaches to consultancy, explores Edgar Schein’s 10 principles of process consultancy as applied to Operational Research and Decision Science, and presents the different forms of enquiry in working with a client.  The session will provide opportunities for participants to apply these features of good consultancy practice.

Practical Solutions to Complex Problems (sponsored by Polaris Consulting)
PLUS a Team Challenge (with a prize!)
Nick Rose
, Senior Consultant at Polaris Consulting 
This session is designed to encourage inter-disciplinary networking and problem solving from within the YOR community by presenting a real-life complex problem challenge to be solved by the practical application of OR methods. After an initial briefing from the customer, delegates will be asked to form teams of 4-5 people to develop innovative yet practical proposals or solutions to the problem. Towards the end of the session, each team will be invited to give a brief pitch of their proposal to the customer and fellow teams. These will be judged by the customer and prizes awarded for the best proposals. By the end of this session we hope you will have broadened your networks, learnt about new OR approaches and developed your consultancy skills.