Using Quantitative Skills in Business

Quantitative Skills (QS) can make you highly employable across many industries. Find out from these two entrepreneurs how their QS helped them succeed in the private sector.

James Daunt
CEO, Waterstones

“QS is central to any retailer’s armoury.

Tell us about your studies and early work experiences.
I studied History as an undergraduate. My first job after university was as an investment banker where they had an exceptional emphasis on training and encouraged me to take an MBA.

When did you first learn some QS?
The QS skills I learnt on the MBA gave me an ability to assess performance and risk and to ground this empirically. Without these skills, such assessment is liable to be subjective and therefore more likely to be wrong.

How do you use QS in your work now?
I now run a chain of bookshops and my QS are key. Flair, talent, instinct and the like matter, but without a firm quantitative basis trouble will soon come calling.

What advice would you give current students about QS?
If your occupation has any quantitative aspect to it – and very few do not – to get a firm grounding will be of immense value. It will also help keep household expenses in line which makes most people sleep better and saves the odd domestic – in itself not to be sniffed at!

Joe Twyman
Director of Political and Social Research, YouGov

“As a political pollster I use my quant skills every day and literally could not do my job without them.”

Tell us about your studies and early experiences of QS.
I did some holiday work while at secondary school that first introduced me to the joys of data entry. I studied Politics at University.

How did you start learning about and using QS?
After graduating, I started on the graduate training scheme at Research Services Limited (now Ipsos-MORI) where I learnt more detailed methods and techniques whilst doing market research into tomatoes and wonder bras. I later became the founding director of YouGov. Highlights of the job have included co-ordinating election studies in many countries and providing expert analysis of opinion polls for the media.

What do you think QS give you that other skills don’t?
QS give you the power to interrogate primary data and draw your own conclusions, rather than relying on the interpretation of others. They also allow you to critically interpret other analysis in order to separate facts from opinions.

What advice would you give current humanities and social science students?
When you are applying for jobs in this economic climate, it is likely you will be up against a large number of applicants. Being able to demonstrate quant skills is one of the most positive and effective ways of differentiating yourself from the other candidates – both in my industry and many others.

Read more interviews from researchers  on how they use their quantitative skills.

These case studies represent a selection from the British Academy’s Stand Out and Be Counted booklet.


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British Academy

The British Academy is the UK’s national body which champions and supports the humanities and social sciences. It is an independent, self-governing fellowship of scholars, elected for their distinction in research and publication. Our purpose is to inspire, recognise and support excellence in the humanities and social sciences, throughout the UK and internationally, and to champion their role and value.

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Robinson Onyango

am an undergraduate at university of Eldoret, I that all of you for your motivation on how Quantitative skills has help u prosper in your lives. am taking it as a common course for my studies falling within the eight unit am doing. Currently am a first year undergraduate hoping to graduate in 2018 and i hope i will be like you. Thanks you all for your motivation.

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