What she does:
- Elizabeth spends some time daily scheduling the energy transacted with counterparties. This could involve buying transmission and obtaining control area approvals for power flow over the system or could simply be inputting the company forecast for power usage in one of the major cities served. Besides this, Elizabeth works on several profit optimization projects. One such project involves creating and sustaining a tool to forecast tomorrow’s price of a megawatt of electricity based on historical costs and energy usage. Another project requires analyzing the effect of shifting a nuclear power plant maintenance outage based on expected power prices in various months to minimize financial opportunity loss.
Math on the job:
- Although energy scheduling mainly involves complying with control area and company rules, there is merit to finding the most efficient ways of moving power through all of the “middlemen” between a power generator and a power consumer. Optimizing the paths used can dapple in the graph theory since correctly modeling the energy transactions can help reduce variance charges from the control area.
Most commonly, high school algebra and statistics are most useful for profit optimization problems, but a Monte Carlo simulation model and other mathematical tools developed by our Quantitative group are used as well. Being able to maneuver through Microsoft Excel pivot tables, macros, and solver tool is quite useful as well.
- Elizabeth was a math major with a French minor at Swarthmore. She assistant taught discrete mathematics at a John’s Hopkins’ CTY (Center for Talented Youth) program the summer before her senior year. After graduating from Swarthmore, she immediately started working as a performance analyst at Exelon Power Team in Kennett Square, PA. After 8 months, she moved on to her current position as a Trade Floor analyst in the same company.
Elizabeth's advice to students:
- Being a math major teaches you to be thorough. In the analysis of a situation, question all aspects of the issue before jumping into a solution. This thoroughness will help you avoid pitfalls or wasting time reworking a solution due to a silly oversight.
For those interested in commodity trading, or any finance business, math and statistics provide a solid base from which to start any career. Be sure to take some Economics and plenty of Statistics! Learn as much as you can about the companies you are interested in, the positions they offer, the amount of quantitative work involved, and if that would suit you- titles and company names can be hard to decipher.
If you know that you are able to interview and market yourself confidently (and you should be confident in your abilities), the most challenging part of getting a job will be deciding, and clearly stating, which position you would like, where, and why. Interviewers will typically know that you are qualified due to your math/stat experience. If you struggle with interviewing, consider doing plenty of practice interviews with career services!! People skills are crucial and can be invaluable if paired with a math background.