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Emma, Catastrophe Modeller

"The second I arrived I knew that Newcastle University was the place for me."

About Emma

Emma studied MMath Mathematics and Statistics and graduated from Newcastle University in 2016. 

We asked her to take a look back at her time at Newcastle and tell us how it has impacted her career:  


After I completed my studies at Newcastle, I started at Hiscox Insurance on the graduate scheme, where I completed various rotations around the business. After a year I discovered catastrophe modelling, which spoke to my interests in mathematics and physical hazards so I moved to this role full time.  

As a catastrophe modeller, my job is to assess the frequency and severity risks of natural hazards across the world and work out the financial implications. I use mathematics from my degree every day in my role, although the softer skills; presenting, communicating, project management and teamwork are incredibly important too.  

I love that my job combines two of my interests, mathematics and natural disasters. It is great to be able to take the skills and knowledge I learnt at university and apply it to real-world applications. I enjoy the collaboration aspects of my job, from working with scientists and statisticians to understand the fundamentals of natural disaster risk, to helping a company to be financially protected again catastrophe risk which would threaten the future of their company. 

Problem solving and perseverance 

I gained many transferable skills throughout my time at universityYou can’t get through a mathematics degree without spending hours stuck on one question, thinking of alternative ways to tackle it, trying, failing and trying again until success. I learnt to tackle problems logically and persevere with them. This skill is crucial in both the professional setting at work and even day-to-day.  

I also learnt the importance of working as a team and sharing our knowledge and individual strengths with one another. Most importantly, I learnt that it’s okay to admit when you don’t understand something fully and ask for help. This has been crucial in my current job where mistakes can be costly. 

I often need to communicate complex ideas in my role to others who are not as mathematically minded and these presentations really helped prepare me for this. 

Why Newcastle?  

As lame as it sounds, the second I arrived I knew that Newcastle University was the place for me. After meeting the current students and lecturers, it was clear that this was a university department with a community spirit. I wanted somewhere I felt at home and part of a team and I felt it there. Throughout my degree this stayed true, the lecturers were always keen to help and there was a real community within the students too.   

I can’t really give enough thanks to the tutors for their help and support. Firstly, the quality of the lecture notes that were provided were great; I still use them now if I need to brush up on a topic! Secondly, whenever I went to knock on their office door (which was a lot!!!) to get some help on an assignment question or for exam prep, they were always very happy to help and were keen to ensure we understood the content.