Alumni Voices: Master’s in Business Analytics

Alumni Voices: Master’s in Business Analytics

As part of the QS World University Rankings: Global MBA Rankings 2019 and the QS Business Masters Rankings 2019, we spoke to thousands of graduates worldwide about their business school programs and experiences.

Below, we hear from five students who are recent master’s in business analytics graduates from some of the best business schools in the world, who tell us about the highs and lows of their experience as well as providing helpful advice for future applicants.

 

Christina Stathopoulos graduated from the master’s in business analytics program at IE Business School in 2016. Originally from the US, she is now living and working in Spain for Google as an analytical consultant.

Christina StathopoulosHow did you decide on the business school in which you ultimately enrolled?

There were several deciding factors for me. IE is a well-reputed school globally and there was a solid mix of technical and business skills taught within the program. The student body was diverse, some faculty had industry experience and not just academic, and finally there were plenty of extracurricular activities and ways to get involved with the university outside of class time.

What was the best and/or most unexpected part of your graduate school experience?

How truly diverse the program was. We were around 40 students from 29 different countries and this enriched the program experience. All of the time spent on group projects was invaluable because it prepared us well for working in an international environment in the corporate world. It's an experience that you cannot get anywhere else.

What were the most valuable skills that you gained from your program?

Some of the most valuable skills I gained were how to work well in very diverse teams and some technical programming skills that were wonderfully presented and taught.

How would you describe your return on investment from earning your degree?

My degree was well-worth it, a high return on investment. The Masters helped turn my career in the right direction and propel me towards the job I had dreamed of doing. I am now doing exactly the type of work that I wanted and working in one of my top companies.

If you could have changed one thing about your experience what would it have been?

I would have liked a bit more organization. Sometimes there were confusions in scheduling, last-minute cancellations and late starts to classes because many students would arrive late. Coming from the US University system, I would have liked it to be stricter here like it is there.

The admissions process can be quite a daunting experience. What would be your top tip for candidates to enable them to excel when applying for business schools?

Be yourself in the interviews during the selection process. Find a special way to make yourself stand out and show why you deserve a place within the class intake. Prepare your application very well from the start.

 

Yun Guo graduated from the University of Texas McCombs School of Business with a master’s in business analytics in 2017. Originally from China, he is currently working for IBM in the US as a senior consultant.

Yun GuoHow did you decide on the business school in which you ultimately enrolled?

After 4 years working in the automotive industry as an analytics manager, I realized I needed to brush up my skills in this fast-paced, cutting-edge field. The McCombs MSBA with its equal emphasis on three pillars of business analytics: programming, statistics and business was the natural choice for me to explore big data in a corporate environment.

What was the best and/or most unexpected part of your graduate school experience?

What really struck a chord was the unique tool-agnostic philosophy of the program. We applied equal weighting to all popular analytics tools and languages. This allows us to quickly adapt to the dynamic analytics scene and any company’s analytic weapon of choice in our future career.

What were the most valuable skills that you gained from your program?

The most valuable skill I gained is how to be a quantitative storyteller. I am a Senior Consultant at IBM where I use this skill every day to bridge the yawning gap between business leaders and software engineers. It is a skill without which different functional team won't be able to understand each other and operations will fall apart.

How would you describe your return on investment from earning your degree?

I feel that the MSBA program at McCombs has been a high-ROI education experience for me. Apart from moderate tuition, we could finish the program in 10 months, minimizing opportunity costs.

If you could have changed one thing about your experience what would it have been?

Austin is known for 6th Street. I wish I could have frequented the bars there more. Then again, I chose school work which was fun!

 

Kishan Bharadwaj Shridhar graduated from the master’s in business analytics program at Singapore Management University (SMU) in 2018. He is originally from India and is now living and working in Singapore as a data scientist for information technology company Avanade.

Kishan Bharadwaj ShridharHow did you decide on the business school in which you ultimately enrolled?

The key decision points were reputation among employers (both local and foreign), the industry ecosystem the university is part of and feedback on the learning experience from alumni. I needed a course that balanced teaching analytics in a way that can be readily applied out there in the industry.

What was the best and/or most unexpected part of your graduate school experience?

The most unexpected part of my graduate school experience was immersion into student competitions. Some of my in-class assignments were data sets released from analytics competitions and this spurred my learning to a new level. Learning from peers who were diverse in age and professions was a completely new experience, and one that I cherished throughout.

What were the most valuable skills that you gained from your program?

Besides technical skills in data analytics and machine learning, I gained exposure in organizing analytics projects to industry expectations. Being mentored by faculty who were also previously in the industry, I had exposure to real world problems with business analytics. One key takeaway for me was my ability to justify my decisions that impact business grew manifold as I learnt that there is always not one best way to solve problems. I understood what alternatives exist for business problems and that is helping me greatly today.

How would you describe your return on investment from earning your degree?

I am totally satisfied that I enrolled myself into this course. My ROI is partly tangible (a better pay after graduation) but largely intangible.

Nuances of what differentiates a good analyst from the best is how closely they align their solution with business needs. I believe that differentiation is vital to anyone undertaking such a degree. Since I feel I have that skill, my return on investment has been above par from what I expected to learn on day one.

If you could have changed one thing about your experience what would it have been?

I believe the experience I underwent was precious and casted and reshaped me into a different individual. I have no qualms regarding it.

The admissions process can be quite a daunting experience. What would be your top tip for candidates to enable them to excel when applying for business schools?

Envision yourself graduating with that particular degree and out of that particular school one to two years down the line, and ask yourself, if you think that it will make a difference to who you are today. Choose the school wisely after a thorough research and do not be carried away by peer pressure.

Sometimes, a portfolio helps to showcase relevant projects. Always highlight the two or three best learnings and indicate what you could have done differently in those projects.

Leadership is a key trait.  Ensure that the leadership experiences you underwent are showcased in the application. Always communicate boldly.

 

Aritad Choicharoon, originally from Thailand, graduated from the University of Leeds with a master’s in business analytics in 2015. He is now working for his alma mater as a KTP Associate data scientist.

Aritad ChoicharoonHow did you decide on the business school in which you ultimately enrolled?

My decision was based on a combination of factors including study, cost, reputation, etc. I believed that Leeds University Business School struck the best balance between having modules that aligned with my interests, it’s recognized worldwide as a leading university, and also provided a wonderful standard of living in a city with reasonable costs.

What was the best and/or most unexpected part of your graduate school experience?

I think the most unexpected part of my school experience was how many extra-curricular activities were available. I was able to participate in many analytics-related opportunities such as a consultancy project with a company in Yorkshire and met a bunch of people who shared my interests in the Data Science Society at the university.

What were the most valuable skills that you gained from your program?

I have learned that while it is important to know math, statistics, and programming used to run analysis; it is equally as important to have the soft skills of communication and presentation because your analysis will only be valuable if it benefits the organization.

How would you describe your return on investment from earning your degree?

I think the degree has allowed me to transfer into a career path of analytics and data science. It helps open doors that I thought were closed to me before in term of specific jobs in this area. Some might say that you don't need a master’s degree to work in analytics but having one does help me a lot.

If you could have changed one thing about your experience what would it have been?

I would probably have spent more time preparing myself before entering the course and interact more with my lecturers and supervisors. There is a lot that I could still learn from them and I think I would have benefitted a lot more from that connection.

The admissions process can be quite a daunting experience. What would be your top tip for candidates to enable them to excel when applying for business schools?

Know what you want to do, and what you need to do to get there, and fit this into your statement of purpose when you apply. Universities appreciate people who look at their program closely and understand exactly what they want to get out of it.

 

Jon Leung graduated from the MSc in Business Analytics program at Imperial College Business School  in 2016. He lives and works in the UK as an analyst for consulting firm A.T. Kearney.

Jon LeungHow did you decide on the business school in which you ultimately enrolled?

I considered the academic reputation, prestige, graduate reviews, and graduate prospects of the schools on my shortlist. I picked Imperial College as they are known to be strong in STEM subjects, and they also had a well-respected business school.

What was the best and/or most unexpected part of your graduate school experience?

I expected more of a taught undergraduate experience during the MSc, but got access to all the careers presentations, networking events, and opportunities to partner/work on projects with external companies that an MBA student might receive. The classes were small and very interactive, and group collaboration on coursework added to the learning experience.

What were the most valuable skills that you gained from your program?

Data science skills and coding skills developed through the MSc were really valuable when it came to jobhunting. There is great demand to hire data science and analytics specialists; nearly all companies from the traditional consulting or banking employers to technology companies are looking for data scientists.

Aside from the technical data science taught on the course, I gained valuable teamwork, communication, and project management skills from the course's focus on group project assignments.

How would you describe your return on investment from earning your degree?

The course came at a hefty price tag of £24,000 (US$30,764) when I enrolled in the first cohort back in 2015; I will no doubt earn this back although it might take a long time. I think the network, the skills and techniques developed, and the reputation of the course has opened up doors into a career in strategy consulting that I otherwise wouldn't have been able to get into.

If you could have changed one thing about your experience what would it have been?

I would have spent more time enjoying the vast variety and number of student societies Imperial offers. Studying within the Business school doesn't exclude you from these, remember to have fun!

The admissions process can be quite a daunting experience. What would be your top tip for candidates to enable them to excel when applying for business schools?

Make sure your application showcases what makes you a promising candidate and makes you stand out, aside from excellent academics. It might be your skills and experience from working in interesting industries, starting up a YouTube channel or website or blog, running a start-up or non-profit, or focusing on projects you've done for charity and student societies.

Written by Julia Gilmore

Julia is a writer for TopMBA.com, publishing articles for business students and graduates across the world. A native Londoner, she holds an MSc in Marketing Strategy & Innovation from Cass Business School and a BA in Classical Studies & English from Newcastle University.

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