SIAM News Blog

SIAM Annual Meeting Hosts Industry Panel

By Kevin Bongiovanni

Thinking about a BIG (Business/Industry/Government) career? While the industrial landscape has traditionally provided niche roles for applied mathematics, the rapidly changing nature of research and development in industry has opened up many new and exciting opportunities dovetailing nicely with the multidisciplinary capabilities of today’s applied mathematician. Graduate students attending SIAM’s annual meeting in Portland this July were given an insider’s view of this terrain from six veteran industry mathematicians. The one hour session, organized by the SIAM Industry Committee, provided a brief guided tour of their industry experience, sprinkled with career tips for getting in the door and answered questions solicited from curious audience members. 

I moderated the session whose panelists were selected to cover a broad swath of the BIG picture from the applied mathematician’s perspective and included Sharon Arroyo (Boeing), Kevin Gillette (Accenture Federal Services), Genetha Gray (Salesforce), Tim Hesterberg (Google) and Anushar Sekar (Chevron).  Even though their individual experiences differ, a common theme was that they really enjoy the industry environment for its exciting challenges, flexibility, and opportunities for professional growth.

From left to right: Kevin Gillette (Accenture Federal Services), Sharon Arroyo (Boeing), Kevin Bongiovanni (Raytheon), Anushar Sekar (Chevron), Genetha Gray (Salesforce), and Tim Hesterberg (Google) answer questions about math in industry at the industry panel at the SIAM Annual Meeting held in Portland, Ore. in July.

Following a brief introduction where the panelists described their specific roles and responsibilities, they answered a wide variety of questions such as what are some typical career paths for applied mathematicians and what a typical work day is like. Students were even interested in learning about opportunities to start their own companies and the pros and cons of big versus small companies.  Since the panel had only an hour to field questions, the session was followed by a two-hour reception where attendees could meet the panelists one-on-one, make new friends and enjoy the company of the SIAM community. 

For more information on jobs using mathematics, interested students may want to obtain a copy of SIAM’s Big Jobs Guide: Business, Industry, and Government Careers for Mathematical Scientists, Statisticians, and Operations Researchers, by Rachel Levy, Richard Laugesen and Fadil Santosa. Now is a great time to consider pursuing an industry career and SIAM continues to provide an excellent venue for students to discover, network, and connect with future BIG employers!

Kevin Bongiovanni ([email protected]) is an applied mathematician at Raytheon in Portsmouth, Rhode Island.

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