School of Mathematics

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More than three-quarters of the graduate vacancies advertised this year by City investment banks and half the training contracts offered by the leading law firms are likely to be filled by graduates who have completed work experience with the employer.

High Fliers Research on “The Graduate Market in 2016"

Andrew Morgan

Head of the Foundation Trust Unit at the Department of Health

Andrew Morgan graduated in 1999 with a degree in BSc Mathematics. Below he talks about how maths graduates could benefit from following his career path within the Department of Health. 

What is your current position?
My current role is the Head of the Foundation Trust Unit at the Department of Health. The Department of Health is a Government department supporting ministers, elected MPs appointed to positions in Government, to deliver their policies. We also provide an important role in relation to the public accountability of Government, in particular ensuring that the public can fully hold the Government to account for its actions. This includes preparing responses to letters sent to ministers.

So what’s the best thing about your job?
I would say the huge variety of activities undertaken in my role which, in many ways, my studying of Maths at University has been really important in making possible. Having a good grasp of Maths has, in my opinion, been an enabling factor in all the roles in my career so far. Another enjoyable aspect is working with NHS colleagues, in particular ensuring that the decisions being taken by the Department will play out as intended on the front line of patient care. Working with clinicians lets us know where we are making a difference in improving the quality of care provided and/or where refinements to policies and approaches might be needed. Finally, preparing advice to be taken by ministers is also a very interesting aspect of the work in that the decisions subsequently being taken on our advice are usually important things going on in our country.

How did you arrive here, what did you do after graduation?
I graduated in 1999 with a BSc in Mathematics and prior to that I studied A-levels in Maths, Physics, Geography and General Studies. I started my job a few months after I graduated and my first role in the Department of Health was in the Hospital Activity team collecting and analysing data in relation to hospital activity, so the number of people going into hospital, waiting times in hospitals and other important management information. I then got a promotion and moved up to the medical workforce statistics team collecting information on the medical workforce and modelling the number of doctors and consultants which were forecasted to be needed in the future. From there, I moved into a NHS planning and performance role which was collecting data in relation to the plans and performance of NHS organisations across the country. This included an interesting piece of work on the star ratings across the NHS which was an overall rating given to hospitals and which at the time got quite a lot of press coverage as it was highly political. I then moved to a team implementing a policy in relation to how activity is paid for in the NHS, which in simple terms was having a fixed price for activities carried out across the country. This was also an important policy change within the NHS; moving away from the principle of being competition on price towards competition on quality of services provided.

How did you find student life at Leeds?
I had an excellent time at University. I’ve got a lot of friends who I went to University and I don’t know any who didn’t have a good time. I think that you always get out what you put in, in terms of putting effort and time into studying. You also need to be mindful of the non-educational aspect to it; having a good time of your life from 18 to 21.

What was it like studying Maths at Leeds?
There was a good amount of time in lectures and tutorials, which meant that there was still time to follow up what you studied and what you had been taught. Having an appropriate amount of engagement for studying Maths was essential. The course I studied was really interesting and varied. It included Mathematical Logic, Abstract Algebra, Mathematical Education, Statistical Imaging and Combinatorics. The last of these I always remember as being the module that taught me how to work out the odds of winning the lottery, though not how to win it!

How do you use the knowledge you gained from your studies in your job?
Studying Maths was particularly integral to the earlier roles in my career, in terms of collecting data, analysing data, producing reports and analyses. More generally, my understanding of numbers and analysis and the logical thinking that accompanies this is, in my opinion, a key aspect of most of what I have done and do now.

How do you think that maths graduates would benefit from following your chosen career?
I would say that the benefits of Maths graduates following something similar to my career path would be about building, in the earlier stages of the career in particular, a sound and broad knowledge and skill set which should then set you up for a wide range of opportunities in the future. My career so far has been about combining the skills I developed studying Maths with the more generic skills needed in Government departments. These include policy development, policy implementation, negotiating and drafting papers/reports etc.