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James Brisbourne

University of York

BSc Theoretical Physics
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The Big Picture

James began a placement with the financial and legal consultancy Deloitte in July 2019. He worked within the anti-money laundering team.

“I’ve been doing a lot of work on developing web tools to help present transaction-monitoring technologies to clients… the idea is to make the front end look as simple as possible…”

The Learning Curve

James taught himself to use the software-development package OutSystems. Using this package, he developed a template for a user-friendly web tool to monitor financial transactions. In order to customise the appearance and functionality of the tool, James then learnt to write code in the C# and JavaScript languages. He also optimised user experience by researching queuing theory and building the fundamental insights of this theory into his work.

“In a team of a hundred, I’m now the only person who knows OutSystems… my manager said, ‘Take as long as you want to build this thing, and don’t rush over the data’… I ended up picking up the domain knowledge and then pairing it with the technology, and so I have an idea of both sides of the tool…”

James’s Impact

James developed web tools to help Deloitte with various processes. He worked on managing technologies behind how you monitor financial transactions, and how risks are analyzed and mitigated between different companies. 

“The tools that I’ve made save a lot of time… the idea is to sell them to clients as well… hopefully we can get to a point where it’s a finished product before I leave, and they can start to be sold…”

The Physics Connection

James felt that the problem solving skills he had learnt throughout his degree helped within the role. He recognised that the maths and statistics which underpin his physics modules, were particularly relevant and useful. More generally, he realised that, as a physicist in an environment dominated by software developers and non-scientists, he brought a new perspective to the workplace.

 “I think more so in a physics degree than other degrees, you know what to pick out and what to just maybe leave and include later on…”

The Professional Skills Stuff

In addition to having regular meetings with his team, James expanded his communication skills by presenting his work to audiences of up to fifty people. He also actively sought the feedback of colleagues by sharing his prototype design at various stages of development. He valued the insight he gained into the priorities and organisation of commercial organisations. 

“We have technology meetings where the person presenting changes each week, and you talk about what you’ve been making… it’s become almost second nature to talk about my work…”

The Company

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited is a multinational consultancy with over 250,000 employees based in 150 countries. The company specialises in providing financial advice and legal services. James was based at their offices in London. He found the atmosphere to be friendly and inclusive, and appreciated the way in which the company provided opportunities to learn new skills.

“It’s a very positive environment… I have the freedom to develop things in the way I want to develop them… we’re also allowed an allotted eight hours of training a week… I’ve been doing a Python-based machine learning course on Udemy…”

The Final Word…

“Dipping your toe in the water and finding out what you want to do, it’s definitely useful.”

… and the Next Step

James will return to the University of York in September 2020 to complete his degree. The placement led to an offer to start as a senior associate at Deloitte.

Skills Learned;

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