- Nov 17, 2022
As the digital world continues to evolve, organizations are increasingly using analytics to improve decision-making and optimize business outcomes. The 34 participants in Ivey’s inaugural Master of Management (MM) in Analytics cohort are well-equipped for this reality, whether they are in specific analytics roles or want to apply a data-driven lens to any business area.
Greg Zaric, a Professor of Management Science and Faculty Director for the MM in Analytics, said many of the participants switched jobs or were promoted at their organizations during the program, which was motivating for their classmates. Overall, it was a good first year and Zaric said the cases, guest speakers, and workshops were well-received and the participants were particularly glad to meet in person for portions of the program and social events. The MM in Analytics graduates participated in Western University’s first in-person fall convocation ceremony in two years, which alone was a special moment given the hiatus from in-person events during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The year mostly went very well and it was a highlight just to get the program off the ground after years of work,” said Zaric. “The end-of-year student survey results were very positive and we also received good feedback from the corporate sponsors and Executives-in-Residence.”
Zaric said a few format and programming changes may be implemented going forward thanks to feedback from participants, but otherwise it was a year full of highlights and memorable moments. We spoke with four participants in the inaugural class – Shola Garuba, Frank Jiao, Bianca Matos, and Clare Mok – to learn what the experience meant to them.
Shola Garuba, MM ’22
Shola Garuba is an Application Development Consultant at CIBC
Shola Garuba knew the value of analytical insights for business since his role at CIBC involved transforming business requirements into technology solutions. He turned to the MM in Analytics hoping to learn how to leverage data insights so that he could advise the organization on its strategy.
The program’s structure was particularly appealing because it allowed him to pursue a master’s degree while working full time and he considered the course load a push to take on a challenge. Meeting the like-minded individuals in his cohort during the program’s residence week served as further motivation.
“What really struck me during the residence week was the calibre of people I would call my classmates,” he said. “Getting to know them during our first few sessions, I felt that if these very intelligent people thought that pursuing the MM in Analytics was the right thing for them at this stage in their careers, then I was in good company.”
The move paid off and Garuba said the program has helped him to expand his knowledge of business as well as improved his interpersonal skills and confidence.
“I can now bring into focus all the moving parts that work together in running an organization – how leadership, organizational structure, marketing, and strategy all come together for the organization to meet its long- and short-term goals while providing value to customers and stakeholders,” he said.
The case study approach of the program has made me more comfortable sharing my ideas and encouraged me to take on more responsibility and leadership roles in my work.”
– Shola Garuba
Frank Jiao, MM ’22
Frank Jiao is Corporate Manager of Planning and Analysis at InnVest Hotels
With a background in Mathematical Economics, Frank Jiao knew how to solve problems. Later, while working as a marketing analyst at EQ Bank, he witnessed the advent of digital banking and helped the company to navigate the digital landscape and optimize its acquisition channels. He was working as a user engagement specialist with Maple, a virtual health-care company that is heavily analytics-focused, when he decided to do the MM in Analytics. Jiao said the program’s while-you-work format appealed to him because he could apply what he learned on the job.
“You give yourself homework by solving a problem at work or proposing a project to your team lead,” he said.
A case in point: after taking on a role in planning and analysis with InnVest Hotels partway through the program, Jiao proposed a data transformation idea, which was passed on to the company’s CEO and is being worked into the company’s strategy. It’s an example of the impact the program can have on your career.
Jiao said he gained the confidence to change jobs after being inspired by a sentiment shared in a class discussion.
“Someone said, ‘What brings you here will not take you there,’ and it reminded me that we often just work within our comfort zones. One of the reasons why I changed jobs was because I wanted to test myself,” he said.
Jiao said highlights of the program included guest speaker sessions on analytics best practices, a communications workshop, and the supportive faculty and classmates.
And while he acknowledged the program can open doors to your future, the rest is up to you.
The program opens up a door for you, but you need to work hard and get as much out of it as you can. If you put in the effort, you can get a lot out of it.”
– Frank Jiao
Clare Mok, MM ’22
Clare Mok is Senior Consultant of Business Growth Initiatives at Sun Life Financial
Clare Mok initially took the MM in Analytics so she could help her organization to do data-driven analysis, but the program inspired her to take on a different role focused on sales and marketing. Mok had been working in a compliance and risk management role at Sun Life Financial, but took on her current role in business growth initiatives with the company after taking a marketing course through the MM in Analytics. Mok said she saw an opportunity to apply her technical expertise and knowledge of analytics to drive some of the key initiatives in that department.
“Analytics to me is a means to enhance business outcomes in any area,” she said. “You don’t have to become a data scientist, you can use the knowledge you’ve acquired on the business analytics side to facilitate or support any area that you’re in.”
She said the program’s blend of management and analytics prepares participants for a breadth of roles and the opportunity to apply learnings through the Ivey Field Project showed the impact that can be made in real business settings.
But in addition to gaining new knowledge and skills, Mok said the program increased her confidence.
“The framework of the program is meant to be challenging. It strengthened my grit and now I understand just how far I can go and how hard I can work,” she said.
Mok said she also appreciated the friendships made. In her speech to classmates as valedictorian, she encouraged them to continue to share insights and support each other.
To be successful in the program, you have to rely on each other – connect with each other and unpack problems together. I think it’s important to continue to exchange ideas and get insights from each other in our careers."
– Clare Mok
Bianca Matos, MM ’22
Bianca Matos is a Data Strategy Manager with Syngenta
Having a mix of technical and managerial skills, Bianca Matos often found herself acting as a bridge between technical and business areas. She pursued the MM in Analytics, hoping to further a career path in that area. The blend of business content with data and analytics concepts and techniques aligned well with her career goals and interests.
One particular course on modelling was especially memorable because it focused on creating a data model from a business problem.
“The mindset and techniques applied during that course were with me during the entire program and will stay in my mind going forward,” she said.
The Ivey Field Project was a highlight of the program and Matos said the experience helped to improve her technical skills and gain the confidence to handle projects with an ambiguous scope and unstructured data. The chance to learn from a diverse group of classmates was also beneficial and she said the participants supported each other to ensure they all got to the finish line. As the first cohort, the participants also had the opportunity to provide feedback and ideas on how to ensure a smoother experience for future groups.
Overall, Matos said the program gave her many new resources, tools, and techniques to apply to her career, such as programming languages, statistical methods, and business frameworks. She even received a job offer shortly before completing the program and said she believes Ivey’s program helped to differentiate her from other candidates. But, even more importantly, it opened her eyes to the art of possibilities with data.
“The case method and the Ivey Essentials courses allowed me to think out of the box when it comes to business problems. Learning with real-life cases and examples had an immensely positive impact on the assimilation of all the new knowledge,” she said.
In my perspective, the MM in Analytics program worked to form more than data analytics professionals, it developed us to be data-driven professionals applying analytics to business needs.”
– Bianca Matos
MM in Analytics award winners
Congratulations to the MM in Analytics Class of 2022 and all of the award winners.
Dean’s list: Taleen Chen, Xiying Feng, Naomi Gbefwi, Jerry Peng, and Jianqiao Xin.
Ivey Scholar: Clare Mok (also the class valedictorian) and Bianca Matos.
Gold medallist: Da Fu.