1st Impressions EY Operational Research

Graduate Profile:

Role: Assistant executive in Operational Research, Business Modeling

Company: Ernst & Young

Degree:  MORSE (Mathematics, Operational Research, Statistics and Economics)

University:  University of Warwick


Q. Did you receive any formal training before starting your job at Ernst & Young? What were the key skills that you have learned during your training?

I received formal training for 3 weeks before starting work. The first week was an induction week with all the graduates from the London office and it just gave us a general feel of the structure of the firm. We were then taken on to residential training at Windsor where we spent the next two weeks working on a simulated client engagement. We learnt how to interview, present to clients and work with people with different dynamics and strengths within a team.  We had to think on our feet, adapt quickly to different situations and be proactive.

Existing PowerPoint and Excel skills also came in very handy!


Q. Describe in brief what happened on your first day at work?

I arrived at 8:30 feeling excited and nervous at the same time! My ‘buddy’ met me at reception and took me up to the floor where my team sits. The first day mainly consisted of meeting and getting to know the team, having lots of (free) coffee’s with the senior managers and sorting out admin work, like order a blackberry etc. The teams were all very friendly and approachable which made it really easy to ask questions and they made me feel really welcome.


Q. Did your first week on the job change your initial expectations of your role?

I had been given a lot of information about my first couple of weeks from my ‘buddy’ and so my first week pretty much matched my expectations. There is a lot of mathematical programming skills that needs to be learnt on my job but the team eased me into learning this and didn’t really expect me to know anything beforehand apart from core Excel skills.


Q. Most embarrassing incident on your first week?

Just when I thought the whole week had gone pretty well I had a bit of a wardrobe crisis on the Friday of my first week. My pencil skirt slit decided to rip all the way up, flashing a little too much for my liking! I had a meeting with my boss in half an hour so I ran to my ‘buddy’ and she came with me to a Next store nearby to buy a pair of new trousers. I’m hoping most of the guys weren’t observant enough to notice my switch a skirt to trousers! Lesson learned: always keep a spare pair of clothes with you in the office!


Q. Imagine one of your friends was starting Operational Research graduate scheme at Ernst & Young, what advice would you give him/her?

The advice I would give to anyone starting the program would be:

  • Be confident in your abilities (you’ve been hired for a reason!) and don’t be shy to ask questions however silly they may seem
  • Network as much as you can with people in your team and others in the office, you never know how making good connections can come in handy when being assigned to projects.
  • Brush up on your programming skills (learn VBA and SQL) beforehand and you’ll have an extra advantage!


Q. Which task made you most nervous during your first week of work?

I was told to use a program called SQL and start running queries for a large database and then use Excel to consolidate this data. I had never used SQL before and was completely unfamiliar with the concept of running queries on this software. I just asked one of my colleagues to run me through the basics and after looking at a few tutorials online it turned out the task wasn’t as daunting as it first seemed.


Q. Any great perks/benefit in the office?

There are lots of after work drinks and socials organized for graduates in the first few weeks. There’s normally a tab on the bar and it’s a great chance to get to know everyone in a social setting. EY also has a car scheme where you can rent any sports car for 2 days for free; I can’t wait to try that out!


Q. What did you enjoy the most during your first week at Ernst & Young?

I enjoyed meeting all of the graduates and the team. Getting to know different personalities and experiencing the friendly and jokey team dynamic within my department.


Q. What is the thing that you dislike the most about your job?

The working hours can be quite long at times. During training we had to work till 10pm on a presentation, and I have heard horror stories of other colleagues working till 5am on certain projects.


Q. Top tip for your friend facing a final round interview, could you share it with us please?

For a role in operational research a lot of technical knowledge is required. Make sure you know your stuff and reason out answers logically. Interviewers love it when you ‘think out loud’ as even if you don’t get to the right answer they can see how your mind works and how you went about thinking through the problem.

Also be friendly and don’t get intimidated when partners challenge your answers. They just want to see how you can think on your feet and whether you’re easily swayed by other people’s opinions.


Q. Do you often have après work drinks with your colleagues? Have you got any interesting stories from your work outings you would like to share with us?

EY normally organizes work drinks every Thursday and Friday. There are a lot of cool bars around the London Bridge area and it’s been great way to get to know people outside the office setting. There haven’t been any crazy shenanigans as of yet but I shall keep you posted!


Q. Three words to describe your first impressions.

Challenging. Exciting. Fun