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YOR20 - Plenary Speakers

We are very pleased to announce, that we have 4 excellent Plenary speakers this year at Young to OR 20. They are, (in current order of speaking), Ruth Kaufman OBE, President of the OR Society and Independent Consultant, John Hopes, President-Elect of the OR Society and a Partner at EY (formerly known as Ernst & Young), Sandra Weddell, leader of the Rail & Underground’s Transport Modelling team at Transport for London and Tony O’Connor CBE, Chief Analyst, Ministry of Defence and Chair of the Government Operational Research Service. Kaufman
President of The OR Society and Independent Consultant

Title: OR, the ORS and you: challenges and opportunities

It has been an enduring concern of people involved in OR that the profession is almost invisible, and that is still true today. Yet OR in the UK is widespread, flourishing, and influential; and people with OR skills are in demand as never before.  Technological advance, and the world's need and demand for OR expertise, make this a truly exciting time to be engaged in OR.  How is the OR Society responding to and supporting this? What does it mean for early career people? In this talk, Ruth will review the OR landscape; describe the OR Society’s goals and plans; and discuss how you might address the challenges and make the most of the opportunities to shape your own future.

Short biography

Ruth Kaufman, a ‘Companion’ of the OR Society, became President of the Society in January of this year.  Like many other members of the OR Society, she fell into O.R. by accident, in her case having taken a maths BA in the School of Social Sciences at Sussex University.  This led to a long career in public sector O.R. and wider management at London Transport, London Electricity, Department of Health and Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD).  At ECGD, she joined the Executive Board, having responsibility for strategy and change management as well as leading an influential OR group. In the voluntary sector, Ruth chaired a small charity, Woman's Trust, for five years and was a founder member of the OR Society’s Pro Bono Scheme. Ruth is currently (amongst other things), Advisor to the Finance Committee at the National Federation of Women’s Institutes, a visiting Senior Fellow at the London School of Economics and a freelance consultant and advisor. She was awarded an OBE for 'services to Operational Research' in the 2016 New Year's Honours list.
During her two-year presidency of the OR Society, Ruth aims to help O.R. become more visible and to help the OR Society grow its reach and impact, nurture OR research and build the people pipeline.
John Hopes
Partner at EY (formerly known as Ernst & Young)

Title: Brexit means Brexit.  But what does Brexit mean?

On 23rd June 2016 the UK voted to leave the European Union in an historic referendum.  But since then the debate has continued on quite what the electorate had intended by their vote.  This talk will start by looking at what evidence there is for a mandate for hard or soft Brexit, what the options are for the UK’s future trading relationship with the EU and where immigration fits in.  Drawing on EY Item Club forecasts before and after the referendum there will be an exploration of both the short and longer term economic impacts of Brexit, including an analysis of actual economic trends following the vote, such as the plunge in the value of sterling.  There will also be an exploration of the opportunities, risks and uncertainties associated with the Brexit options in general and a consideration of what they mean for OR.  This latter section will focus on both the academic side of OR (for example in terms of overseas students and research funding) as well as the practitioner impact (such as employment of overseas analysts, export of services to Europe, possible changes in regulation, etc.).  There will be a consideration of the decisions that organisations will be facing as Brexit comes closer and the role that OR can play in informing those decisions.  And, finally, there will be a discussion of implications for those embarking on a career in OR.

Short biography

John is a partner at EY (formerly known as Ernst & Young) where his roles include being Global Leader of Transaction Analytics and Business Modelling.  He has also been Vice President of the Operational Research Society from 2011-2016, chairing the Society’s Analytics Development Group, and is a member of the Heads of OR Forum.  John started his career in Operational Research at Shell where he also worked in Business Strategy and Production Economics for North Sea oil and gas fields.  He then moved into professional services, first at KPMG where he became lead partner for Business Modelling and Customer Management consulting, before moving to lead Business Modelling at EY 15 years ago.


Sandra Weddell
Transport Modelling Manager at London Underground (TfL)

Title: My travels through OR

Sandra will talk about some of the highlights of her career so far, touching on some details of specifics projects, such as the transport for the Olympics and its legacy within Transport for London. From the range she has worked on she will talk about the use of OR and Analytics within them, picking out some themes around the use of modelling and analysis in the different organisations and roles she has worked in. Plus she will say a little about how the application of OR has helped the projects.


Short biography

Sandra leads the Rail & Underground’s Transport Modelling team which uses a range of simulation and transport assignment models and analytics to support decision making. She ensures the results of analysis are used to provide answers covering R&U’s complex strategic, service development and operational issues. This includes: pedestrian modelling of stations for the capacity programme to improve the flows as part of the design process for all TfL stations including for Crossrail 1 & 2 stations how they integrate with existing stations; modelling train service capacity upgrades to understand the journey time benefits for customers of options to meet future demand and the effect on reliability; assessing the impact of events (for example the Olympics) & closures on crowding across the transport system. She joined London Underground in 2005 to lead the measurement of the performance & payment regimes for capability and reliability for the Public Private Partnership contracts.

Previously, Sandra worked in performance analysis at the Strategic Rail Authority on the Rail Performance Fund providing analysis to support business cases for projects, developing the first Rail Performance Improvement Plans by setting up cross industry forecasting and reporting on targets. Prior to that Sandra worked for over 10 years in the Central Government Operational Research Service: at HM Treasury; Export Credit Government Department; Property Services Agency. Sandra’s areas of expertise are public transport and financial modelling, underground & rail performance and policy analysis plus Operational Research.

Sandra has also been involved with various functions of the OR Society for many years including: Young to OR conferences, Events committee, LASEORS and also served on the OR Society Board.  Sandra has a degree Mathematics from South Bank University and a Masters in Operational Research from the LSE.


Tony O’Connor
Chief Analyst, Ministry of Defence and Chair Government Operational Research Service

Title: Making a Difference through OR

Short biography

Tony has over 30 years’ experience of operational research in Government having worked in the Dept. for Education, the Cabinet Office, HM Treasury, Dept. of Health and since the start of this year, the Ministry of Defence.  Tony played a key central Government role as the Chief Analyst of the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit between 2001 and 2008, where he improved the use of evidence at the heart of Government, working in particular on performance measurement across key public services and reporting directly  to the then Prime Minister. More recently he led a project on the potential of big data and data analytics for the Department of Health and wider government community.   
In addition, since April 2004 Tony has been the Head of the Government Operational Research Service (GORS), representing the interests of over 600 government operational research analysts across 20+ departments.  He also sits on the cross-Whitehall groups: Heads of Analysis, and Departmental Directors of Analysis providing coordinating leadership right across Government’s  analytical resources.  He chairs the NATCOR Advisory Board overseeing the programme for providing  national taught course content for OR PhD students. He regularly speaks at OR Society events including annual conference, EURO, and the OR Society’s Analytics events.   

He is a Fellow of the OR Society and in 2007 he was awarded the CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours for his work promoting operational research across Government and his analytical contribution to the Prime Minister's Delivery Unit. In 2010 he was made an Operational Research Companion of Honour by the Operational Research Society.