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Career Transition in OR from public to private sector? What are my chances?

Hi all. I will really appreciate if you can offer me sincere advice & share your experiences. I had master degree in Operations Research and am lucky to get a job as OR Analyst within Central Government. I am keen to know what my career prospects are especially if I am interested in switching to the private sector later on in my career. Apparently, the skills are transferable, however employers are often keen about industry experience. So, I am really pleading for your expert' opinions on transition and what my career chances are in the future. Imagine If I am interested in moving to OR role within Aviation especially or Consultancy firms that principally undertake activities within Utilities, Financial Services, Consumer Products etc and have only worked within Government departments say Revenue or Treasury, what are my chances. Please kindly help me with your insights on transition as OR Analyst from public to private sector. 

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Every situation is unique, but I would say the odds are in your favor. 


Some things to consider in your govt time:  acquiring OR technical skills in different methods of data solicitation and model structuring, getting an MBA in order to see how different types of information are used (in different portions of a P/L organization, and at different times in the decision cycle).

Getting the "next position" will definitely involve getting a network outside of the govt and regularly learn what sorts of business problems those people are facing.  Even better is to go through your direct connections made in the course of your govt projects and get connected to people on the other side. 


Every "project" I had in my govt experience provided direct OR accomplishments, but also opened doors to new industries, different sizes of companies... in different stages of corporate academic and consultancy maturity.  The bigger and richer the net, the better the next place will be.  My govt colleagues looked at these multi-agency and industry collaborative assignments as means to get into other govt agencies.  Most were too concerned about leaving the comfort zone.


One criticism I experienced in my professional journey was a prejudiced perspective that govt projects take too long for corporate needs, so that I never had to really produce (OR stuff) in a timely manner. Find ways to overcome that.  Also, there is a drawback to staying in govt service "too long" in that you will be older than your competition.  The corporate world feedback I got was that "If I was that good, I would be at a much higher level by now."  Their career path trajectory has a different slope and their life experiences are different, so inaddition to MBA type classes, consider a course in Social Anthropology.  Turn on your inner Dian Fossey so you can better observe and understand the different cultures you will be considering.  I sat it that way because the step function you will have to cross is a big step.


Once the foot was in the door, these concerns have to be evaporated (by meaningful work) and then a 6, 12, 18 month plan sketched out.  Somewhere in that time, work has to start seeking the next level position, which most likely will have you relocate again.


In all it can be done and quite refreshing along the way.  I went from NASA Aviation (organizational development, technology assessment, enterprise portfolio management) to DOD (operational support, simulation, procurement) to Biosciences (project management, device development, life cycle management) to light manufacturing (operational efficiency, production capacity, new product development and organizational development).


Good luck!



This is appreciated and acknowledged with thanks. I'm indeed grateful for your insight, advice & contributions. I really hope the transition works well for me on time. At the moment, my current responbilities evade me the opportunity of using main technical OR skills which worries me further. I do more of statistical modelling, forecasting and data crunching. The business problems are not similar to those which require any model structuring, optimisation, simulation or OR related techniques one can use software to produce sensible solutions. Even if there are, its gonna be limited. But I hope to learn from this experience & plan ahead of transition. Please accept my thanks once again.


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