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The optimal career path

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Jodie Wallis (BMath ’93) was a natural fit for Operations Research at the Faculty of Mathematics. “I liked how Operations Research brought together different disciplines and applied directly to business problems,” she affirmed. “That process of taking a problem, considering multiple layers of solutions, and ending up with something that’s elegant and workable in the real world was appealing to me.”

Wallis credits her six co-op terms for helping her discover her passion for consulting and imparting the problem-solving and communications skills she needed to launch her career. “I look back now having been in the workforce for almost 30 years, and I’m amazed at what I was able to do at 18 years old,” she reflected. “Waterloo’s co-op program is unmatched.”

She completed two of her co-op terms at Accenture, a leading global consulting firm with offices in Toronto that hired her for a full-time position immediately after graduation. She would go on to spend more than 27 years at Accenture, rising to the level of Managing Director for Applied Intelligence before accepting a new position as Global Chief Analytics Officer for Manulife in 2020.

“I’m grateful for the high standards at Waterloo, because clients hire consultants for work that’s especially difficult, novel, or multi-dimensional,” Wallis reflected. As she served clients across industries, she relied heavily on her background in data analytics and optimization to develop actionable solutions for complex problems.

Wallis’s daughter, Samantha, is currently enrolled at the Faculty of Mathematics. “It’s interesting to compare our experience,” said Wallis. “So much has changed since I graduated, especially the technology we used. On the other hand, the value of the education has stayed the same. You can go anywhere and do anything with a math degree from Waterloo.” 

Read more about Wallis' story.

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