People often find it hard to see how the maths we learn at school will still be relevant when faced with the real world.
Real lives are the stories of all kinds of people, from pop stars to engineers, explaining how maths has affected their careers. On leaving school, they discovered that maths is used a lot in almost every aspect of life. Maths is part of everything that we work at and with, play at and use in the home.
- Pete Tong: DJ
- Sir Bobby Charlton: Ex-footballer
- David Ginola: Ex-footballer
- Tim Henman: Tennis Player
- Gary Lineker: TV presenter, ex-footballer
- Trude Mostue: TV presenter, vet
- David Coulthard: Racing driver
- Prince Naseem Hamed: Boxer
- Chris Tarrant: Game show host / DJ
- Kriss Akabusi: Athlete / TV presenter
- Ainsley Harriott: TV chef
- Mike MacKay: Chemical Engineer
- James Baker: Apprentice Instrument Technician
- Julie Arnold: Contract Negotiator Analyst
- Robert Smith: Sales Support
- Leanne: Pre-Registration Team Leader
- Henry Ashton: In Service Support Aircraft Engineer for BAC 1-11 & Concorde
- Caroline Mohamed: Chemical Engineer
- Abby: Modern Apprenticeship- Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering (HNC)
- Jim Blackler: Software Designer
- Vicky Hayes: Software Engineer
- Vicki Rowland: Business Support Administrator
- Alex Holt: Project Manager
Name: Pete Tong
Job description: Pete Tong is a top DJ with Radio One in London, although he also tours the club circuit all over Europe. Pete would be unable to do his job without an understanding of maths. "Whether you're into techno or technology, you need maths. It helps you think and you can use it to work things out. Mixing and timing is just maths used instinctively. It's as cool as the music."
Name: Sir Bobby Charlton
Job description: In his youth, Sir Bobby was a star footballer playing for England. For Sir Bobby maths and sport go hand in hand - ranging from understanding angles, calculating distance, and judging speed. As any footballer will tell you, maths is a natural component of the sport, and becomes not only practical but fun.
Name: David Ginola
Job description: David came to England from France to play for Newcastle in 1995. The importance of maths comes in to its own especially when striking for a goal. In the heat of the game, David only has one chance to get the ball in the net. To achieve this, David must make instinctive calculations of angle, speed and distance before striking for that goal. Maths and football: the two universal languages.
Name: Tim Henman
Occupation: Tennis Player
Job description: Tennis is a sport where speed and judgment are paramount. Tim has won many prestigious competitions and has a current singles ranking in the top 20. As an athlete, Tim needs to react quickly, estimating distance and speed before striking the ball if he is to judge his shot accurately. As with other sports, the professional game means he only has one chance to gain the advantage over the other player. Taking a larger view, an understanding of maths enables Tim to be aware of how many games, sets and matches he needs to win.
Name: Gary Lineker
Occupation: TV presenter, ex-footballer
Job description: As a former England striker Gary uses maths every time he played a game. Maths came in handy when calculating the angle required to direct the ball towards the goal, or the speed and distance needed to ensure an accurate kick down the sideline to another team member. Although not a big fan of maths at school, in retrospect Gary realises that maths can even be applied when playing football. Now a successful television presenter, Gary still uses maths when presenting Match of the Day - calculating how many points a team requires to win the championship, or assessing how long he has to discuss the match before the second half starts.
Name: Trude Mostue
Occupation: TV presenter, vet
Job description: Trude trained as a vet in front of Britain in 'Vet School'. She uses maths everyday in her work. Treating animals involves anything from calculating the correct drug amount for a hamster to assessing whether or not a dog's heart rate is within acceptable limits. Maths is especially important for Trude when she has to calculate safe drug doses for the animals she treats. But is also useful when determining the time remaining until a cat is due to give birth. This allows for arrangements to be made in advance - like getting the nursery ready!
Name: David Coulthard
Occupation: Racing driver
Job description: David has been driving in Formula One racing for a number of years. Maths is vital to constructing a race plan in advance - David needs to calculate the number of pit stops required relating to the amount of fuel carried in the vehicle at any one time. Both of these elements have an effect on the overall time of the race: if David has an exceptionally quick pit stop that could mean the difference between winning or losing the race, providing he is carrying enough fuel to last the remaining laps.
Name: Prince Naseem Hamed
Job description: In a professional career spanning 7 years, Prince Naseem has won a total of 33 fights, 29 of which have been knockouts, and lost none. Although his understanding of maths is useful in assessing the success he has achieved in his boxing career, it is in his business ventures where maths has proved invaluable. "I couldn't run my businesses without it. Don't come second, learn your maths."
Name: Chris Tarrant
Occupation: Game show host / DJ
Job description: As a radio DJ, maths was important for being aware of the time allocated to and the countdown to playing the next song. As the presenter of "Who wants to be a millionaire?" Chris needs an awareness of maths to help his contestants estimate the likelihood of reaching a million at each stage of the contest. This means taking into account: what money the contestants have "in the bank"; how much money they would stand to lose should they answer the question incorrectly; how many life lines they have left; and how many stages they have to pass before reaching the star prize of one million pounds.
Name: Kriss Akabusi
Occupation: Athlete / TV presenter
Job description: Like other competitive sports, athletics relies on the accurate coordination of body and mind. In particular, Kriss uses maths every time he prepares for and competes in a race, whether professional or amateur. Sport is all about pace and timing. In training, the difference between decreasing your lap time by 1/10th or 0.2 of a second can make the difference between coming first and second in a race.
Name: Ainsley Harriott
Occupation: TV chef
Job description: Ainsley demonstrates his art of cooking all over the world. Maths is an important component of cookery and Ainsley has to make use of his mathematical skills when making speedy conversions in his head from grams to ounces, or pounds to kilos. It also comes in handy when increasing ingredient quantities in recipes to cater for more people, as without an understanding of maths this could become very complicated.
Name: Mike MacKay
Occupation: Chemical Engineer
Job description: Mike is responsible for planning the output of products from the site. This is possible once the crude oil has been separated into useable components such as petrol, bitumen, jet fuel - directly pumped from Fawley to Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester Airport - and rubber. He uses maths and modelling to determine the correct strategy. He must ensure that the site runs at optimum levels, but safety is of paramount importance when transporting such highly volatile substances, and this must be taken into consideration.
Notes: Cambridge graduate (Comprehensive Education), was inspired to do maths by excellent maths teacher while at school. Works and designs models for the largest oil refinery in the UK, the second largest in Europe.
Name: James Baker
Occupation: Apprentice Instrument Technician
Job description: James is part of a team responsible for maintaining and guaranteeing the accuracy of all the instruments on the massive Fawley refinery. James carries out preventative and emergency maintenance on the instruments that enables Mike (above) to be able to carry out his job. James may be called to work at the top of 60 foot towers, in extremely volatile environments that may even call for breathing apparatus. Although only a small part of his job is maths, without his ability to make the calculations using his head, he would be unable to carry out his job.
Notes: James left school at 16 after his GCSEs, including maths. He is currently back at college two days a week studying maths. No one ever made the link between maths and work while he was at school, he finds maths a great deal easier now that he can see a direct link between what he does at work and what he is studying.
Name: Julie Arnold
Occupation: Contract Negotiator Analyst
Company: Yorkshire Electricity
Job description: Robert provides estimations and prices to the sales consultants who sell to large organisations like Rank, who may need to know the estimated power costs for a new cinema, for example. He must also be able to forecast consumption and the profit margins, which requires the ability to analyse numbers.
Notes: Maths graduate from York. She formerly worked as a Government Statistician.
Name: Robert Smith
Occupation: Sales Support
Company: Yorkshire Electricity
Job description: Julie's job involves the wholesale trading (mainly purchasing) of electricity contracts. She negotiates contracts with the large generators (such as PowerGen and National Power) in order to purchase competitively priced electricity which is then sold on to their customers.
Notes: Left school after GCSEs, never saw the link between maths and work until he started work at Yorkshire Electricity. Maths is fundamental to his job and although not a massive fan of maths at school he thoroughly enjoys his job. Yorkshire Electricity have put Robert through a Business and Finance B-Tec, and he is now doing an HNC in Business and Marketing, both require mathematical knowledge in order to complete the financial models included in both qualifications.
Occupation: Pre-Registration Team Leader
Company: Yorkshire Electricity
Job description: Leanne registers all new customers and leads a team responsible for estimating how much energy a domestic customer may use. She also analyses Marketing trends, the type of new customers she is getting and those that they are loosing, this is then passed on to the marketing department who can then react accordingly. Leanne must also fulfil a leader role including looking at the team's workload versus its resources, this calls for the analytical and problem solving mind-set maths provides you with.
Notes: Leanne sought extra tuition at school to get her through her GCSE maths, which she passed. She is due to move into a business analyst role soon, and she feel maths will play a large role in that and a Business and Finance qualification she is also hoping to start soon.
Name: Henry Ashton
Occupation: In Service Support Aircraft Engineer for BAC 1-11 & Concorde
Company: British Aerospace
Job description: If an aircraft gets damaged or dented then the airlines need to know whether the aircraft can be flown or whether it needs to be repaired. If the aircraft needs a repair that isn't covered by the manual then he designs it. This may involve mathematical modelling the aircraft structure on the computer so that he can bend the model and see what happens. Maths is used to determine what forces to put into the model, how thick to make the structure and to say how often it must be inspected, statistical Analysis.
Notes: Henry enjoyed GCSE maths but found A-Level hard. he persevered and decided he wanted to work with aircraft and decided to do Aeronautical Engineering. He has worked in Barbados and Washington, and joined British Aerospace Airbus in 1997.
Name: Caroline Mohamed
Occupation: Chemical Engineer
Company: Rolls Royce
Job description: Caroline is involved in the modelling design of jet engines and inputs on the combustion side of the modelling team. Modelling engine development is a far more cost effective solution than actually creating the full engine. She is able to save Rolls Royce money because the models she develops are as accurate as if the engine had been built.
Notes: Caroline did not take maths at A-Level and has regretted it ever since. She has a PhD in Combustion Chemistry, maths was fundamental to her degree and is fundamental to her job and had anyone been able to demonstrate the relationship between maths and work she would have taken it at A-Level.
Occupation: Modern Apprenticeship- Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering (HNC)
Company: Rolls Royce
Job description: Abby's job is to work on the giant engine tests and describes the experience of pressing the 'start' button on a Rolls Royce Engine as one of the most exhilarating experiences in the world. She monitors the tests and must respond to the statistical analysis of the test results.
Notes: Rolls Royce are currently training her and will continue to support her to degree level if she continues to be successful at her college studies.
Name: Jim Blackler
Occupation: Software Designer
Company: Sony Entertainment (PlayStation)
Job description: Jim designs games for Sony PlayStation, and his current project (last 2 years), has involved designing a football game that Sony hopes to rival the highly successful FIFA '99. Jim is responsible for making the games as realistic and as fun as possible - unfortunately for Jim this may involve tasks like watching '101 Greatest Goals' and playing the games extensively to ensure that they are great to play!
Notes: Jim dropped A-Level maths after his first year of A-level, it was his fourth A-Level and he did not feel that it would be directly useful when he started work. His job is now fundamentally based on A-Level maths which is used to generate the realistic 3D graphics that the PlayStation generates, and he is even considering going back to college and finishing his maths A-Level.
Name: Vicky Hayes
Occupation: Software Engineer
Job description: Vicky works in the very complicated world of cryptography. She is primarily designing electronic security solutions for organisations requiring e-security. She has recently worked on a project providing security for internet trading.
Notes: She is a Cambridge maths graduate (Comprehensive Education), who never found maths easy, but is glad that she took the maths degree as it opened up a world of career opportunities for her.
Name: Vicki Rowland
Occupation: Business Support Administrator
Job description: Vicki's job involves forecasting by revenue, by customer, by project, contracts and purchase order cover. Also analysis of profitability of projects, spend analysis to date and monitoring current aged debt levels. She must also coordinate resource requirements, manage of short term low risk projects. Vicki is the first point of contact for the client.
Notes: She enjoyed maths GCSE, and took A-Level maths, but did not enjoy it, no one demonstrated to her that the maths she was doing at school would be useful to her when she left school. She decided to take a European Management Science degree at Swansea. She feel maths has given her far more than just a skill with numbers, it has helped her to develop an analytical and logical approach towards problem solving.
Name: Alex Holt
Occupation: Project Manager
Company: HSA Marketing
Job description: Alex's job involves project management of projects like Mathematics@Work involving management of certain aspect of a project or the entire management of an event. On Mathematics@Work, Alex has worked on communication of the messages to the children, parents and teachers. This involves a considerable amount of marketing and primarily requires analysis of extensive research (Statistical analysis). His job involves extensive work on projection of costs and profitability, and then working within a specified budget that more often than not, will change a number of times.
Notes: Alex did not take A-Level maths and has regretted it due to the content of maths involved in his Business Management Degree (Leeds), and also his marketing job which fundamentally requires the ability to analyse and understand numbers. Alex is currently studying for his Diploma from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, which also requires a high level of understanding of business accountancy.