Operational researchers use mathematical, analytical and computational techniques to provide quantitative and qualitative information that will improve managerial decision-making.
Operations researchers advise management on the rectifying of mistakes they make in the company or in their own lives. People often do not enjoy nor appreciate others pointing out their shortcomings, or trying to make drastic changes in their lives. It is, therefore, essential that the researcher build a positive relationship with the manager concerned, in which mentorship and persuasion become possible.
The aim is to develop alternatives. Operations researchers use quantitative techniques to find solutions to economic, managerial or financial problems. They are sometimes required to manage smaller businesses on a daily basis, or work at an international level. Some operations researchers are consultants at universities, other institutes or schools of business. However, most operations researchers are employed within one large company.
Operational research involves determining and clarifying strategic and operational problems via consultation with appropriate employees, outlining objectives, collecting, analysing and interpreting data, identifying and assessing possible strategies, presenting results that are easily understood and implementing agreed solutions.
A large proportion of the work involves numerical and computational analytical techniques, often using expert systems and artificial intelligence. Contact with managerial staff and other relevant personnel is a key feature of the job.
Operations researchers typically need to be proficient in database collection and management and programming and possibly the development and use of sophisticated software programs. They may have a background in Mathematics, Statistics, Informatics, Economics, Financial Accounting, Business Management and/or Computer Science. important skills for operational researchers are good intellectual skills, logical skills, mathematical skills, problem-solving abilities, effective team-working skills, interpersonal skills, a diplomatic and persuasive manner and verbal and written communication skills.
Schooling & School Subjects
Degree: The minimum requirement is a BCom or BSc in a mathematical discipline and preferably also honours in Operations Research or a related discipline. UKZN offers a BSc in Operations Research. At other universities, Operations Research is intertwined in courses of other disciplines.
Persons with a BSc (Hons) degree and in some cases, a BCom (Hons) degree, with a specific amount of practical experience, may register as professional scientists with the South African Council for the Natural Scientific Professions. This offers them professional status and its associated privileges.
Operations Research Society of South Africa
P O Box 850
Tel. (012) 429-4564