I found the following discussion item on the INFORMS group on Linked In very interesting as it’s a topic that we deal with a lot in the consulting world. I agree with many of the posters that OR is a combination of math and computer science skills. In consulting, where you are often creating an entire IT system that has optimization parts I think it’s important to have both skills. This is especially true when you are working with corporate IT to get the system running so you need to be able to communicate with them.
However, I think we are leaving out an important skill and that is the ability to communicate with business users to produce solutions that will be usable, as an optimal solution has very little meaning if it’s not usable. This requires both communication skills as they are not likely to understand OR speak and there also needs to be a focus on the presentation of the optimization results so that the users can easily grasp what is being presented to them. So I feel that in addition to being able to build models and program that verbal communication and system design are very important skills for OR professionals to possess.
Besides math and computer science, what other skills do you think it is important for OR practitioners to possess?