Jenny Lannon, Principal Statistician, NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT)

"I chose to study mathematics and statistics at Plymouth primarily because I enjoyed mathematics. At the time, I had no specific career path in mind and felt that the course would provide me with solid foundations for my career. Eleven years on, this turned out to be a very good decision! I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Plymouth and met some brilliant people. The staff were extremely supportive. During my three years on the course, I developed a strong interest in statistics and statistical modelling. Still wanting to keep my options open but retain the focus on statistics I then chose to study a Masters in Biometry at the University of Reading. I enjoyed this so much that I stayed on another three years at Reading to do a PhD. My thesis was an applied statistics project in physical geography and focused on modelling evaporation and soil moisture in order to predict nitrate levels in rivers. During my PhD I acted as chair for the Royal Statistical Society's (RSS) Young Statisticians Section (YSS). In 2014 I was awarded the RSS Chambers medal in recognition of the work I did with the YSS for which I was very humbled. For anyone considering a career in statistics I would highly recommend joining the RSS or attending one of their meetings, being part of the YSS was such an enjoyable experience that I will never forget. 

Following my PhD I trained as an actuary for two years. This gave me not only a useful and interesting insight into the world of corporate finance and business but also enabled me to develop consultancy skills based on the problem solving skills I’d acquired during my academic career. While I enjoyed the fast pace and the challenge of the actuarial industry I felt that I would enjoy a more statistically based role and so I made the decision to become a statistician. To begin with I worked for an environmental consultancy as a statistical consultant which was a great experience albeit a bit of a commute! It was then that I heard about NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT). NHSBT is a Special Health Authority with responsibility for coordinating the UK organ donation and transplantation service as well as managing the national blood and tissue services in England and Wales. I have been a principal statistician at NHSBT for almost a year now, specialising in heart and lung transplantation, and am passionate about my role and the work we do here. My role involves a wide range of responsibilities from reporting transplant activity to commissioners and assisting in policy changes, to carrying out statistical modelling studies in collaboration with surgeons which are published in medical journals and presented at conferences. There is so much to learn as the science evolves and as we strive to reduce the substantial gap between the number of patients waiting for a transplant and the much lower number of donated organs. Everyone here plays a part in saving lives and so there is a great sense of job satisfaction.

For anyone considering studying mathematics or statistics at Plymouth I would definitely recommend doing so. And also, don't worry if you haven't decided on your career path yet, you will eventually find a role that suits you perfectly as long as you work hard!"