Polymaths is a complexity science R&D company working to enhance scientific discovery and technological innovation.
Is there a different entry point for employees with a postgraduate degree?
Yes. Most people enter as Associate and are on a higher pay scale. Currently all employees have postgraduate qualifications.
What are the benefits to you in hiring employees with a Masters or PhD?
They have studied a subject at a great depth and therefore have deeper knowledge and understanding. They also have maturity in terms of how they think and develop their skills.
Do you encounter any challenges with employees with a Masters or PhD?
No. Although we do find that employees with a PhD have stronger research and technical skills than Masters students.
What skills, knowledge and expertise do you look for in applicants with a Masters or PhD?
As a baseline, strong quantitative skills and a sound understanding of statistics is required. We look for an ability to interpret, structure and gather data. Additionally good awareness of the company’s areas of research and an appreciation of new technological developments, how technology is changing, is greatly valued, although this awareness is hard to find. Employees also have to develop broader thinking.
Polymaths’ current project work includes a PhD student developing a mathematical model, a Birmingham PhD researching for another project, and a Masters graduate developing a user interface.
Thinking about the direction your organisation is heading in and changes in the wider sector, how do you envisage your hiring strategy changing in the next 10 years? What skills, knowledge and expertise will you be looking for in new employees/postgraduates?
Again the baseline is quantitative skills irrespective of degree subject and being able to work across disciplines - not being silo-ed in your thinking, but being aware of how ideas intersect in different fields. Creative problem solving is also required, and being familiar with digital technology and how it is changing. New employees should also know how to use digital technology and be innovative in its application. Finally, the company strategy is to develop a training programme to build a certain mindset and skills when a new employee starts.
Thank you to Farooq Khan, Complex Systems Scientist for this case study.