Before I joined, I was aware of some of the issues facing airlines such as: how do you optimise revenue for each flight? Or how do you decide where to fly, and when, and how frequently and with which aircraft? However I did not know just how complex the commercial and operational sides of British Airways are.
My degree in Operational Research taught me the theory of how to tackle such issues and I could not think of a better industry to test my capability in. The first few days were a little daunting with the main challenges being remembering names and trying not to get lost! My induction kept me busy – learning about the OR Way and past projects as well as joining the Leaders for Business graduates on some of their induction courses, such as the flight simulator.
Team moves within OR and secondments into the business are actively encouraged. We in OR are very lucky as our work covers the breadth of the British Airways business from Revenue Management, to Marketing, to Scheduling to the Environment. If there’s something important going on, the chances are that OR will be involved.
I have been working with Revenue Management for the past 18 months on a variety of projects. Along with evaluating the effectiveness of specific Revenue Management initiatives, I have been heavily involved in understanding, developing and providing clarity on our demand forecasts.
As for the kinds of projects I’ve been involved in, one of the desired benefits from the BA/Iberia merger are revenue synergies. By sharing our knowledge of Revenue Management both operating companies will be able to drive incremental revenue from their respective networks through improved best practice and use of controls. I have recently been measuring the value of several of BA’s Revenue Management controls, in order for both companies to better understand the potential revenue synergies.
In a typical week, the majority of my time is spent doing project work – this is where OR delivers its benefit to the business. On an average day I may have between one to three meetings as well. These may be attending client meetings in a consultative fashion, reporting back on a project or catching up with your team. Once a week there will be some form of OR forum where one can learn about other work being done, learn new skills, build business awareness and get to know others better too.
Come the middle of the week, it is usually time to pull on the OR jersey and play in the BA 7-aside football league; the standard is decent but mostly it is a great way to get to know people across the whole of OR and have a laugh with some mates. There are many clubs to join at BA for instance the running club, squash club, as well as the BA gym. Also once a month we have a teambuilding event in the form of the OR Games which can include events such as 10 pin bowling, Pictionary and pub quizzes.
However, the best part of the OR graduate scheme is career progression. You are pushed to develop a set of core skills including consultancy, problem structuring and complex data analysis. This gives OR people a great foundation for future successes, and one only has to look at the number of ex-OR people filling senior management roles to appreciate that. Having the opportunity to be in charge of a trial on routes which make up to £60m has also given me real responsibility.
If you’re going to be a great graduate here, as well has being motivated and ambitious you need to be honest and objective. Don’t just tell people what they want to hear, tell them what is best for the business.