Same study... different career

Jurrian Parie (29)

Degree programme: Mathematics
Job: Co-founder of Algorithm Audit

Portret Jurriaan Parie
Image: Robin Alysha Clemens

Same degree...

As a toddler all I wanted to do was sums, I already knew then that I wanted to be a mathematician. At the same time, I’ve always had very broad interests. So, during my studies I followed the interdisciplinary honours programme offered by the Descartes College. After lectures there was pizza and cola — it was a really good way of getting to know students from other degree programmes. After my second Master’s in Data Science in London I started studying for a PhD in Statistics in Zürich. This proved to be too theoretical. While looking for a new focus, I was inspired by a newspaper article on a discredited machine learning-driven algorithm that had been used by the Municipality of Rotterdam. I set up Algorithm Audit with one of my Descartes classmates to raise public awareness around the responsible use of algorithms and to drive the debate around the issue. We bring committees together to provide advice on urgent ethical issues. For several years I combined this with jobs at IBM and Deloitte, but since September, I have been working full time on ethics, politics and the social relevance of algorithms and, well, just hard statistics.

Lucas Smits (25)

Degree programme: Mathematics
Work: Scientific officer at CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis in The Hague

Portretfoto van Lucas Smits
Image: Robin Alysha Clemens

...different career

Statistics give me peace of mind, it’s great when everything checks out. Maths was my favourite subject at school and I thought I was going to be a string theorist. While studying for my degree in Maths and Physics, I became increasingly aware of the important and equally as interesting issues that play out outside of the university. The fight against climate change is the key theme for the years ahead and I want to contribute to this through facts, knowledge and research. After I graduated I found a job at TNO. But politics is closest to my heart and, since last year, I’ve been working for the CPB on their Climate programme. It’s my ideal job. I’m currently building a big model with three colleagues to predict the impact of a CO2 levy for large polluters outside the EU, including all the data on the international energy industry. The model did well in the first major test, that was a real milestone! Building a model like this is a kind of complex puzzle. The great thing is that my model has a direct impact. When the CPB publishes the results of a study it always attracts a lot of attention, from the media and politicians.