Carla D. Martin
BS Applied Mathematics
After graduating with a math degree from Virginia Tech in 1995, I wanted a job in which I could use mathematics and had the opportunity to work with many different people. I discovered that the field of consulting was ideal for this because it allowed me to participate in many different projects.
If you have ever heard of Price Waterhouse, you probably associate it with accounting and finance. However, in addition to their accounting and audit service, Price Waterhouse contains a division of consulting services where employees of various backgrounds work on solving complex business problems. I am a consultant with a group known as Management Analytics. This group concentrates on forecasting techniques, market research, statistical analysis, and analyzing large amounts of data. Therefore we seek people with strong quantitative and mathematical backgrounds.
For example, a company was interested in offering a new type of service to its customers. However, before doing so, they needed a way to figure out if this new service would be profitable and determine if the company would gain a large customer base by offering such a service. My first step was to determine the characteristics of potential customers. From that point, I developed mathematical formulas to select a representative sample of US residents whom we could survey to determine their interest in this new service to be offered. I helped design an unbiased questionnaire and supervised the survey administration. After we obtained the data, I developed computer programs and formulas to analyze the data. I then wrote a report containing our conclusions and presented it to our client. Other projects I have worked on include one in which we were forecasting future sales of an item for a company. We examined historical company data and built forecast models to determine, based on previous sales patterns, whether the sales will increase or decrease. Our work helps companies plan effectively and raise profits.
But, all formulas aside, my mathematics education has trained me to solve problems logically, and I use that skill in every project I take on. Every day, I use logic to reason precisely, distinguish contradiction from complexity, and determine whether or not a given conclusion has really been proven. Even when no equations are involved, mathematics is an essential part of my job.
I encourage anyone who enjoys problem solving to consider an education in mathematics. You don't have to become a professor to have a financially and intellectually rewarding career in math, and the skills you will develop can be applied in any profession.