Staff Spotlight – Rob Lucas

Meet Rob, one of Polymathian’s consultants, who shares a unique blend of mathematical prowess, strategic thinking and quick wit, which he has been applying for the last 3 and a half years with us.

Let's get to know more about Rob!

  • Rob, can you share a bit about your background and what led you to join Polymathian?
  • I studied maths at university, drawn to problem-solving. After studying, I found my first job was lacking the mathematical depth I wanted, so a friend from uni introduced me to Polymathian. It was the perfect job where I could fully utilise my skills and apply mathematics to client problems.

  • How would you describe your role at Polymathian to someone unfamiliar with our field?
  • We use a technique called mathematical programming to find optimal solutions for scheduling and planning problems in various industries. It’s a really cool method to use because, for a given set of inputs, you can mathematically prove that there is a ‘best possible solution’ that it is not possible to beat.

  • Could you describe a typical workday and a current project you're working on?
  • My day usually involves working with clients directly and collaborating with the software developers to deliver solutions. Currently, I'm engrossed in applying APEX Strategic, Polymathian's underground mine planning software to optimise the strategic mine plan for a platinum operation in South Africa. With multiple metal products, a lengthy life of mine, and tens of thousands of mining tasks, our goal is to determine the optimal mine schedule to maximise the Net Present Value.

  • Over the course of your time here, how has your role evolved since you first joined the team?
  • During my time with Polymathian I’ve been able to increase my responsibilities and develop my role. This has been great as it allowed me to experience multiple areas of the business and has led me to where I am now, which is being fully immersed in consulting with clients.

  • Where do you see your role and Polymathian evolving in the future, given industry trends and advancements?
  • The recent acquisition with Deswik provides an exciting chance to further explore mining's mathematical side. It's great to see how Polymathian and Deswik's combined suite of products can tackle even more complex problems for our clients.

Shifting gears a bit, let's explore some personal aspects.

  • Away from work, what are some of your hobbies or interests?
  • I really enjoy reading, particularly science fiction and fantasy and I usually alternate between fiction and non-fiction books. Currently, I'm enjoying 'The Live Ship Traders' by Robin Hobb. Also, the Polymathian team is quite close-knit, so we often do activities together like cycling, movie nights, and rock climbing.

  • If you weren't in your current career, what other profession would you be curious to try, and why?
  • Well, I actually started my career as a Research Analyst in public transport, so I've always loved the idea of solving bigger problems for them for the upcoming Olympic games. Alternatively, something hands-on outdoors, such as being a Park Ranger, Fire Fighter or maybe even working in Agricultural tech.

  • What is one of your favourite travel experiences or a place you're eager to visit?
  • As a kid, my family would often do house swaps with other families. One time we did this in Montana, USA, where I have great memories of being surrounded by mountains and enjoying outdoor winter activities.

  • What's something people might be surprised to learn about you?
  • In university, I worked as a model for QUT University’s stock imagery. It's pretty funny to think that those photos might still be out there.

  • What advice would you give to someone starting their career in industrial mathematics or considering joining Polymathian?
  • A broad approach to problem-solving, leveraging a diverse toolkit, is more crucial than being an expert in one area. It’s also beneficial to consistently keep notes on what you find useful about the problems you're solving. I have a library worth of notes for ORB Strategic on my e-ink tablet!

  • Do you have a favourite quote or personal mantra that guides you?
  • I often find myself returning to a quote from Mike Mignola, the comic book artist. He said, "All we can do is make the most of the time we have."

  • I heard you love telling jokes, care to share any?
  • "I got the words 'jacuzzi' and 'yakuza' confused. Now I’m in hot water with the Japanese mafia." And my second favourite is: "Professor X: What’s your superpower? Me: Hindsight. Professor X: That’s not going to help us. Me: Yes, I see that now."


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