Careers in Mathematics

April 28th, 2022

In this virtual TED style talk you will have the opportunity to learn about trending careers in mathematics and related fields. Learn from UCLA alumni professionals and identify career paths that utilize your mathematics training.

Below is an overview of this year’s speakers. Recording of the event will be posted below. This is a joint collaboration between the UCLA Department of Mathematics and the UCLA Career Center. For questions, please contact

Juan Carbajal

Software Engineer

Juan grew up in Los Angeles and Mathematics was a passion of mine from an early age. Juan arrived at UCLA in the Fall of 2016 and declared a Financial Actuarial Mathematics major. Over my time at UCLA, as he learned more about what he liked, Juan ended up pursuing Applied Mathematics instead. It was this major that introduced me to the PIC courses offered by the department, and that’s where he discovered my passion for coding. He landed my first software developer role for a nonprofit organization near the end of my fourth year, where he helped design and implement an online code editor website for students in grade school to use. After half a year working there he then spent a couple months at an internship working on an Android/iOS puzzle game. This short work led to me being offered a Co-Founder position as a Software Engineer for this newfound startup company called Trivial. Juan took the offer and spent about 15 months building up this new integration platform while our CEO sought funding. Now, with a bit of experience under my belt, he just recently began searching for a new role in Software Engineering.

Daniel Gutierrez

AMULET Analytics

Daniel D. Gutierrez is a practicing data scientist who’s been working with data long before the field came into vogue. As a technology journalist, he enjoys keeping a pulse on this fast-paced industry. Daniel is also an educator having taught data science class at UCLA Extension for a number of years. He has authored four computer industry books on database and data science technology, including his most recent title, “Machine Learning and Data Science: An Introduction to Statistical Learning Methods with R.” Daniel holds a BS in Mathematics and Computer Science from UCLA.

Vikas Thakur


Vikas (Vik) Thakur is a Vice President in Partnerships and Alliances at Genpact – a global professional services firm that drives digital-led innovation and digitally embedded intelligent operations for global clients (really fancy words for applying technology to improve client operations).  Vik’s first summer job while he was an undergraduate Math major at UCLA was as an Orange Juice Taster for a local juice company.  Applying analytic techniques he learned at UCLA, Vik improved the juice blending process to create a more consistent quality product.  This awakened a passion in him to help organizations “work smarter, not harder”.  Vik pursued his passion by becoming a Transformation Consultant to help organizations improve their performance.  He worked for major consulting firms, such as Deloitte Consulting and Genpact, to help clients rethink their approach to operations.  He also worked for major companies like Exxon, Bank of America, and Countrywide Financial to help lead the change from within.  Vik holds a BS in Mathematics / Applied Science and an MBA from UCLA.

Penny Zhang

UCLA Investment Company

Penny Zhang is currently an Investment Analyst at the UCLA Investment Company. Ms. Zhang works closely with the investment team to conduct portfolio analysis and provide directors with manager due diligence support. Prior to joining the UCLA Investment Company, Ms. Zhang gained operational experience within the insurance service industry, where she focused on marketing and risk management process automation. Additionally, she interned for Barron’s China as a Research Assistant and JUMP Investors as a Venture Capital Analyst. Ms. Zhang received a BA in Mathematics and Economics from UCLA.

Rand Waltzman

RAND Corporation

Dr. Rand Waltzman has created, planned and managed major research and development programs (> $100 M) on the application of massive scale data analytics in the areas of insider threat detection and social media. He is currently Deputy Chief Technology Officer at RAND Corporation. Previous positions include CTO (acting) and Associate Director of Research of the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, Program Manager at DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), Chief Scientist in the Distributed Systems Lab of Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Laboratories and Associate Professor of Computer Science at the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden. His 41-year career in Artificial Intelligence started in 1983 as a Knowledge Engineer at Teknowledge Corporation, the world’s first commercial Artificial Intelligence company.

Wendy Chou Le

ROI Science Lab

Wendy Chou Le, UCLA ’88 BS in Math Applied Science/Computer Science. Wendy is the principle consultant at ROI Science Lab, and currently serves full time as the Digital Growth Lead for HOMEPOP, a leading accent furniture brand across major retail channels including Amazon, Wayfair, and Target. Her favorite motto: I thrive on helping stakeholders make informed decisions through data to grow their business and improve profits. Wendy lives in the Inland Empire with her UCLA alumni husband and their 12-yr old son. She and her husband first came to know each other in Math 32H in their freshmen year and met again by the now defunct Lecture Notes.

Robert Hannah

Citadel Securities

Robert Hannah moved from Australia to complete a PhD in mathematics at UCLA, specializing in parallel optimization. After interning at Microsoft and Microsoft research, he accepted a position as a quantitative researcher at Citadel Securities, one of the largest market makers in the world. He currently works there in the portfolio optimization team, where he uses a combination of mathematics, data science, programming, and machine learning to optimize medium-term trading strategies.

Emily Surrell

Resolution Economics

Emily recently graduated from UCLA in June 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics with a Specialization in Computing. Since her graduation, she has been employed with Resolution Economics, where she analyzes employer data related to class action lawsuits such as meal and rest break, off-the-clock work, and regular rate of pay claims.  Her work is often used in expert reports that Courts rely on when reaching legal conclusions. Outside of work, Emily enjoys baking cookies, taking ballet barre classes on Zoom, and knitting.


*Only two out of the four speakers were recorded. For questions about the two speakers not previewed, please contact Thank you.