Department of Engineering Science

James Allard

Bachelor of Engineering (BE) in Engineering Science (2003)  

Photograph of James Allard

Operations Research Analyst (2005)
Air New Zealand, Auckland


At the end of 7th Form I wasn’t really sure what sort of career I wanted to get into. I had always been pretty keen on Maths and Science and these were also my strongest subjects so I decided to give engineering a go.

After my first year I was faced with my next important choice of which branch of engineering to pursue. I was interested in all branches of engineering so this was a difficult choice! After much deliberation I decided to study Engineering Science as I really liked the idea of formulating and solving large optimisation problems and thought this sort of learning could be applied to a broad range of industries.

I completed my Bachelors degree in 2002 and found employment as an Operations Research Analyst at Air New Zealand (after a brief stint working as a lifty at a ski resort in Colorado). At Air New Zealand my role involves designing and maintaining optimisation software for the airline’s crew. The optimisation software we have developed (some of which has been in conjunction with The University of Auckland) ranges from roster optimisation software through to software optimising the utilisation of crew who are “on call”.

We also use the software to model things such as the effect of crew contract changes on required crew numbers (particularly during crew contract negotiations) and in determining optimal crew basing strategies. The Air New Zealand crew salary bill is several hundred million dollars so there are good opportunities for cost savings for the company through efficient use of crew.

Outside of work I enjoy snowboarding, fishing, scuba diving and play a lot of soccer. Working for Air New Zealand definitely has its perks around cheap travel. This year I spent a couple of weeks snowboarding in Japan with a few friends who I also managed to set up with cheap airfares.