Interactive Strategy Director
I graduated in 1990 with an Honours degree in mathematics, majoring in operations research. I joined McKinsey & Company as a business analyst. They are employed on a project basis by senior management to help address major strategic problems. I worked across a variety of industries, from transport to telecommunications, before they sent me to do my MBA in New York. While there, I became interested in the media industry so spent a summer working as an analyst at Viacom. After graduation I rejoined McKinsey but transferred to their London office so I could gain more experience in media.
Two years later, I joined News Corporation in London in a corporate development role. While there I became fascinated by interactive media, so after 18 months left to join (now defunct) dotcom start-up as strategy director. After the market crash I helped to wind up the company and in 2001 joined Carat in London.
Carat is the largest media buyer in Europe. Media buying is one aspect of advertising - the creative agency makes the advertising and the media buying agency decides where the advertising should be run and negotiates with media owners (e.g., TV stations) to make it happen. As well as doing the actual media planning and buying, Carat also provides strategic advice on how best to use different media channels. I joined in 2001 as Strategy Director in Carat's interactive division, helping marketers decide how best to use interactive media (web, email, SMS, etc) for advertising. Since then my job has broadened, so now I also work in Carat's communication consultancy division with my key responsibility being to stay up to date with how the media and communications landscape is changing. I also do corporate development work such as evaluating acquisition opportunities.
On the surface, you wouldn't think mathematical skills were particularly useful for my job, but I use them indirectly every day. Studying mathematics teaches you a particular approach to problem solving; logical, focused and structured. This has been extremely valuable and is intrinsic to the way I address any issue, qualitative or quantitative. The skills I gained studying maths help me to get quickly to the heart of an issue, and to break down problems into their component parts. I occasionally directly use my mathematical skills to build spreadsheet models for business plans, scenario analyses, etc.