Analytics Panel

By: Michael Albuquerque

On 16 November 2017, the MBS organized an Analytics Panel where speakers were invited to talk about their experiences in the industry and answer questions from our students. Analytics and Data Science is a very popular concentration within the MBS Degree. This session was rich with career advice and interview tips, many of which have been summarized in this blog post. We learn about how these professionals landed the positions they are currently in, what common pitfalls to avoid along the way and which even which elective courses they recommend based on their own experience.

The panel members are welcomed to the event and introduced to the audience.

Let’s first learn a little about the guest speakers who apply analytics and data science in four different industries.

Craig Moran is an Associate Director for Advanced Analytics in the Marketing Science Division at Mindshare, a media and marketing company. He’s one of our own, a proud MBS graduate with a concentration in Analytics and Data Science. He was, in many ways, the ideal person to hear from and he was able to advise on many matters pertinent to the career path many of the students in the audience intend to follow. Mr. Moran highlighted the importance of having an elevator pitch ready as you never know when it’ll come in handy. His certainly did at a social event where he found himself presented with an opportunity which he seized to get his career started on the right foot.

Badal Shah is the Managing Director for KOL (Key Opinion Leader) Targeting at QPharma, Inc. and specializes in pharmaceutical research. He is an MBS alumnus with a concentration in Drug Discovery and Development.   He works closely with medical and drug development processes. He highlighted the Business Capstone as instrumental in leading him on his path.

Kevin Troyanos is a Senior Vice President at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness, a global communications and advertising agency. His career has a focus on the healthcare marketing analytics space. He is also an alumnus of Rutgers where he graduated with a degree in Mathematics and was insightful on a several topics pertaining to analytics as a consequence of years of experience and knowledge of his field. 

Jeff Lawlor is the Vice President of Data Analytics at American Express Global Business Travel. He has a lot of experience working with both Financial Analysts and Data Scientists. He was well positioned to shed light on this segment of the industry and his knowledge proved to be very insightful.

Participants enter in anticipation of the event.

Next, we’ll jump right into some aggregated insights to summarize the Q&A session that immediately followed the introductions.


What are some of the skills that a hiring company is looking for in a graduate with an experience of 0-2 years?

Participants were advised to avoid common pitfalls, achieved in part by always questioning the data and never follow protocols blindly. A solid technical skill set combined with a curious mindset will help navigate through this stage. Finding ways to apply techniques you have learned to business problems while being sure to be able to explain your work very well was strongly encouraged.

Intellectual curiosity, critical thinking & problem solving are three crucial elements that employers are looking for in new employees. There are a lot of other things, but these can be taught.

What are potential employers looking for in candidates during an interview? How does one navigate well through an interview?

The three main components discussed were technical skills, thinking process, and cultural fit.

The panelists indicated that when an employer asks a question, it is important to talk through the process. In many cases, it is not the right answer so much as the approach the candidate takes to working through solving the problems  While a resume checks boxes, the interviewer is more interested in how the candidate thinks; for eg., how does he/she approach solving business problems? A good measure to take is to research the company and know about problems common in that space. It is also important to communicate the idea behind a technical solution well.

Some advice mentioned to avoid common problem during interviews is to control your nerves and ask questions of your interviewers. Another great idea is to take solutions from one domain and apply the concepts to another. It was added that simple solutions can be surprisingly effective.

Further advice is to lighten the mood when possible to your advantage. Interviewers are trained to put up a wall and maintain a poker face. A good way to bypass this problem is to network a lot and get a recommendation for the post which you are interviewing for. This greatly simplifies things.

The speakers answer questions posed by students attending the event.

What's on the horizon in the field of analytics while also considering which elective courses to pick?

While there’s always hype surrounding a certain technology or software, it’s the strong fundamentals that come into the picture. Craig Moran, drawing from his own experiences, recommended courses pertaining to time series and Bayesian analyses and core computing skills.

Additionally, There’s great potential in healthcare, which is being increasingly open to analytics now that its effectiveness has been established. Another interesting potential area of opportunity that was pointed out was data governance. It could emerge rapidly with new standards that will come in the next few years requiring more stringent measures with regard to handling data.

Another panelist pointed out that if it had to be one tool, learn AWS as he thinks that it is one to stay. Furthermore, the evolution of Spark and real time systems cannot be ignored in a world where speed to insight is a key competitive advantage.

From a business perspective, learning about data visualization, especially the theory and best practices surrounding it, is key to communicate your results effectively.

What are some gaps in the market with respect to skills of those entering the workforce?

One that comes to mind is truly understanding the day to day issues from the ground and talking to the people involved.

Another non-obvious gap is active listening. It is something that is wanting in the industry today. While many people think they are doing it right, that isn’t usually the case.

A gap that is coming in the future is with regard to management. We need managers that are not just personally aware, but also socially aware.

The speakers for the Analytics Panel with Executive Director Dr. Deborah Silver.

There was a lot to reflect upon. Several students spoke to the speakers after the event and exchanged ideas. It was a source of pride for all the guest speakers to come to Rutgers, especially for the ones who returned to their alma mater. It was enlightening to hear from these speakers, who were more than happy to spare their time and share their insights with the professionals of tomorrow.