Paul Harper

Why did you decide to become a member of the ORS?

I was studying for an MSc in OR. I recall that student membership was being advertised for “less than the cost of a pint of beer” each month (this is back in the days before free student membership and when beer was much cheaper!). Honestly, I contemplated the benefits of that extra pint every month, but nevertheless decided to sign up. I became a member to help

connect me to, and raise my awareness of, the wider OR community via access to the monthly newsletters and attendance at events. I was also able to freely access ORS resources, such as journals, that aided my own studies, and to hear about job opportunities as I neared the end of my master’s degree.

How has ORS membership impacted on your work or career?

As I started out on my career in OR, certainly membership assisted me with finding and securing my first job at Hoskins (which subsequently became Cap Gemini). Then, a couple of years later after a moment of what seemed like utter madness (at least to my friends and family at the time), I gave up this well-paid and promising job and headed back to university to study for a PhD (on an annual stipend of just a few thousand pounds). My membership and my involvement with ORS was critical in helping me to build my OR academic and practitioner network. I took the opportunity to get stuck into various ORS roles, such as serving on the research committee and council, attending and organising events, and assisting with the society’s outreach work. I really valued every opportunity to learn from others and to build my own experiences and connections.

Celebrating 75 years, what are your most memorable moments of being a member of the ORS?

There are honestly so many, but if I had to select a few they would be: chairing the OR in Schools taskforce (that made the case and subsequently appointed the society’s first education officer and created the first set of YouTube OR careers videos), chairing the YoungOR conference as a PhD student, co-chairing the annual conference with Sally Brailsford in its golden anniversary year (OR50, 2008, York), co-founding editor of Health Systems, and receiving the Companion of OR award in 2018. Can I also sneak in being on the research team that won the Lyn Thomas Impact Medal in 2021? I mention this because it was personally a huge honour to receive this award named after someone who inspired me throughout my own career in OR. Lyn is a true giant of OR whose positivity, encouragement and kindness was so infectious. He is dearly missed.

Case-Studies-Paul-Harper-.jpg (1)

What do you value most from being a member of the ORS?

Being part of a friendly, like-minded community, rather like the ‘OR family’. I’ve learnt so much from other members over the years and continue to thoroughly enjoy their companionship.

What would you say to any other Operational Researcher who is thinking about becoming an ORS member?

Membership brings so many benefits to help accelerate your own OR development and education, to build your network, and to feel part of our community. Honestly, you’ll miss out on so much if you don’t join!

Paul can be found at the following profile links: