Current Position: Global SMB Business Analyst, Microsoft Advertising
Previous University: Western Washington University
Undergraduate Degree: Political Science
Q: You landed a great job after college. Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree in business analytics?
A: I majored in political science, but I chose a different path after school and accepted a sales analytics role at Microsoft in 2015 after a decade of progressively more technical sales jobs. Online marketing is a data-driven business, and once I discovered the joys of Excel®, there was no going back. Because I was passionate about the work, I taught myself the skills I needed take on a deeper analytics role.
But at a certain point, I knew I had taken self-learning as far as I could, and I needed a rigorous academic program to push me in a way I couldn't push myself. Also, if I ever wanted another analytics job, I recognized that I didn't have a resume that reflected my abilities. I wanted both the learning and the professional credentials of a master's degree.
Q: Why did you choose Northeastern and D'Amore-McKim?
A: I researched programs at several other universities—all good schools—but felt that their business analytics programs seemed to be cobbled together from parts of other master's programs. Northeastern was different. The Master's in Business Analytics program was designed in the business school specifically to launch students into a career in business analytics. For example, my program had an entire course on building dashboards and data visualization. That's a huge part of my job—taking data and making it accessible to people who don't think about data all day. Another class addressed taking information products from idea to launch. That has been extremely helpful for me.
If you're looking for a program that is directly applicable to real business situations, I think D'Amore-McKim does that better than almost any other school.
Q: What about analytics do you think is most important?
A: I can't think of any business that doesn't have data needs these days. Even if you're a small business owner, you interact with software to track inventory, or orders, or employees. That generates data, and your ability to understand that data has an impact on your ability to make good decisions. My own industry relies heavily on data to roll out new features and new products. We're in a constant state of innovation and analysis, innovation and analysis. The Master's in Business Analytics program gave me the technical skills to do that, but it also taught me the decision-making framework for approaching those challenges.
Q: How did the Master's in Business Analytics degree propel your career?
A: Once I began the program, I applied what I was learning instantly at work. Literally, the next day. In my very first course, we talked about types of analytics—descriptive, predictive, prescriptive—and I had a one-on-one with my manager and told him we were spending way too much time on descriptive analytics. He laughed and said, “Hey—you've only been in class one day and you're already pushing me!”
Partway through the master's program, I applied for another role in the company that required a bachelor's degree in a STEM field, which I didn't have. The hiring manager encouraged me to apply anyway. The interview was technical in nature—I had to analyze charts on the fly—and because I was in the Master's in Business Analytics program, I had the skills and the vocabulary I needed to do that. I wound up making points the interviewers didn't expect. And I got the job.
Now I work with second-, third-, and fourth-level managers, helping them make key business decisions on multi-billion-dollar business segments. For somebody in business analytics, it's a dream job. And I can absolutely say that I wouldn't have it if I hadn't gone through this program.