Business Analytics: How Data Skills Can Impact Your Career

Business Analytics: How Data Skills Can Impact Your Career

Webinar Highlights

Check out these key moments from our recent webinar, Business Analytics: How Data Skills Can Impact Your Career, featuring a panel of faculty presenters:

  • Matrecia James, PhD, Dean, St. Bonaventure University School of Business
  • James Mahar, PhD, Professor, St. Bonaventure University School of Business
  • Reed McElfresh, MBA, Adjunct Professor, St. Bonaventure University School of Business
  • Jessica Robinson, AVP Senior Business Analyst, Citi

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Katie Macaluso: Hello, everyone and welcome.

I'm Katie and I want to thank you for joining us today virtually. For today's business analytics presentation, hosted by the online Master of Science in Business Analytics program at St. Bonaventure University’s School of Business. Today, we have several program faculty members joining as well as a university alum. As attendees continue to hop on I'm going to go ahead and start with just a few reminders here before we get started.

The presentation dashboard in front of you is very adjustable. So in the media player, you can adjust the volume as you wish. You can also adjust the slides that show in the center of the screen to make it larger. During the event, please feel free to type in any questions that you might have in the question, answer box located right below the slides. We will save some time at the end of the presentation to answer those questions. And then finally we are recording today's event. So you'll be able to go back at any time if you want to view this again.

So with that said, here's a look at our speakers for today.

Our moderator is Matrecia James Dean of St. Bonaventure School of Business since 2016. Dr. James earned her PhD in business administration from Florida state in 2005, majoring in organizational behavior and minoring in human resource development and behavioral dynamics. Her doctoral dissertation was on anti ascendance and consequences of cynicism in organizations. Then we also have Reed McElfresh, an adjunct professor in the marketing and management department staring us.

He's helped develop and taught in the undergraduate business analytics course and the graduate marketing analytics course. He's also the director of commissions for the Iroquois group an insurance form, an insurance firm, excuse me, based in Allegany New York and oversees the analytics department for their home office. He is also an alum of St. Bonaventure and received his MBA from St. Bonaventure in 2014. And then we have James Mahar, an associate professor of finance at St.

Bonaventure university, where he also serves as coordinator of bono response and a member of the environmental studies council. Dr. Mahar received his undergraduate degree at St. Bonaventure before going on to earn his MBA from the university of Rochester and PhD from Penn state. And then last but not least, we're thrilled to have Jessica Robinson with us today. She is assistant vice president global business risk senior analyst at Citi, where she works extensively with using data to tell the story and make data-driven decisions.

Jessica is also an MBA alum of St. Bonaventure university. Thank you so much to all of our speakers for being here today. With that, I'm going to turn it over to you, Dean James, to take away.

Matrecia James: Thank you, Katie.

And again, I would like to welcome each of you to today's webinar. Our intentions here today is to share information with you that might clarify any of the questions that you have related to business analytics and the choices that you are trying to make as it relates to your educational journey. We hope that you will find the information that we share valuable and the program that we have here, one that would serve your purpose and that you find interesting. The webinar will be conducted in a form of a question and an answer panel discussion.

If we miss any of the topics that you might be interested in, as Katie mentioned, there will be a question and answer period at the end, and we will try to address any of your concerns at that time. So the first question is what are the analytical tools taught in the masters and business analytics program?

Reed McElfresh: Thanks Dean James.

We're going to be focusing on four tools in the MSBA program SQL, Python, Tableau, SPSS.

We're teaching in demand skills that big companies are using. And we're also trying to teach tools that will allow graduates to work through the entire analytical life cycle from acquiring data to processing it, analyzing it and finally to presenting it. A SQL is going to be one of the main tools that you will use to acquire data. SQL can be the backbone of almost every major database for companies that store data in anything other than Microsoft Excel. A study by stack overflow found that SQL is used by more than 70% of people who work with data.

And even if you're using a visual query builder like Microsoft access, understanding SQL will give you a more in depth view of how databases are built to help you optimize any queries. Fortunately, for students, SQL is easy to learn as a common English word. So even if you don't have a background in programming, you'll be able to read queries and eventually build your own. Timely SQL is scalable so as big data is becoming a more and more common equals robust is a robust and fast way to process large datasets. And it helps ensure the integrity of the entire dataset.

Marketing teams use SQL to understand customer needs and wants, or to analyze that the marketing campaign manufacturing teams can use SQL to analyze productivity and accounting teams can use it to query databases and underlying accounting system. Python can be one of the main tools that we use to process big data and use it to actually do our analysis.

Python has many uses in data mining, data science, AI machine learning, etc. if you want a more efficient language than CR or Java that perform similar functions. Its users just floated over the last few years and many packages have been developed for data analysis and machine learning that will help the students understand and transform data from small databases to big data uses. Python has been adopted by companies so things fall in virtually every segment, including recruiting healthcare, financial services, marketing, and education.

Again, I found it's fairly easy to learn and they will allow students to build systems to analyze data and one- off analysis or build programs to replicate analysis in a consistent manner day after day. Finance teams will use Python to build models, to suggest trading strategies or automate transactions. Something Bonaventure does with algorithmic trading and human resource teams can use Python to build algorithms, to fill staffing needs or to predict if an applicant would be a good fit for a job. Tableau, what we're going to be using to help present the findings of our analysis to senior management.

Well, data analysis is great. If we're not able to share our findings with your team, it has a very limited value. Creating a visual on Tableau will allow an audience to more easily see findings and do a bit of their own analysis. Because it's easy to use, many large companies have adopted it. Tableau allows users to build business intelligence dashboards that are intuitive and it can be connected to live data. So management teams can have a real time view of the data of the company. It's been used in all sorts of roles. The example on the computer screen here shows a use of providing a business intelligence dashboard, showing financial performance.

It can be used in operations, in marketing, provide real- time data to allow teams to adjust strategies. And finally SPSS is one of the leading statistical softwares in the world.

It's helpful in solving research and business problems. It's not for supporting the complete data cycle. Some uses of SPSS include advanced analytics, actually analytics, trend analysis, and validation of assumptions and translation of business problems into data science solution. If you need to use due to it's graphical user interface that facilitates minimal coding and allows users undertake a complex tests. It's comprised of efficient data management tools with which the user can have a lot of control and it's popular because of in- depth data analysis and it's faster and provide very accurate results.

As you can see in this table, SPSS has been used in many different industries, including higher ed, hospital, healthcare, nonprofit management and bar.

So hope that gives you an overview of some of the tools that you'll learn in the MSBA program and why we've chosen them.

Jim Mahar: Well, thank you.

I'm Jim Mahar, as it was introduced, I do finance and I'm a finance professor and we do a lot of stuff with data in finance in general.

And I would say there's two areas. One within the corporate setting, which everything from keeping track of how well programs are working. Sort of working with accounting, very much working on forecasting, who's going to be able to pay et cetera. And then also on the investment side and on the investment side as Reed suggested algorithmic trading is a big area there. A couple years ago, we entered a competition from St. Bonaventure. We had a bunch of undergraduate students actually enter a competition against everyone from the university of Chicago...

It was at the university of Chicago. But UCLA, university of Chicago, MIT, et cetera. And I'm convinced that it was more impressive than St Bonaventure basketball team going to the NCAAs. We came into the top 10 and it was just a great everything about it. We use Python predominantly, but everyone uses something different and I thought it was a great experience. And obviously big data is part of the issue, but data analytics in general. No one ever is going to be hurt by being better at data analytics, whether you're in finance in a corporate setting, whether you want to work on wall street or a hedge fund, a high- frequency trading whatever area of finance more data is definitely better.

So that's just wonderful and I highly, highly recommend getting involved.

I think if we look at the future, the future is very bright for this area.

We see it growing by leaps and bounds. We had a speaker a few years ago for a program here and over and over again, she was adamant that it is the only thing to do if you are getting into finance. You have to know algorithmic trading and you have to know the ability to use it for credit processing. I think there's a lot of good stuff here and I highly, highly recommend getting involved. One of our best, best students I've ever had just a great person.

Jessica Robinson will be next. And she's going to talk a little about how she uses it in general in the financial profession. So Jessica.

Jessica Robinson: Sure. So I think you guys have touched on a few important points so far, for me personally, I look more at the analytics side, so I'm not as much involved with the data side, but I work with people on a regular basis. What we've had in the financial industry is basically the evolution of basically having some staff that works with business analytics and programming and algos on a regular basis.

And moving into the importance like Jim just said of everyone is now involved in data analytics. Everyone creates, uses, or manages data in some capacity. Personally, my roles that I've been involved with over my career, it's always been looking at the data, doing the calculating, but also then knowing how to translate that to actions for our managers. So in my roles, I've always had to basically tell them, where is this data leading us.

And I think that is probably one of the most important things right now, which looking at the course outlines for this program, this will definitely get you there if you're looking to build out those technical skills, but also looking to build that ability to story tell and make decisions using data. I think we all know that Google really revolutions how data is used. I think Salesforce, the company really kind of pushed the storytelling game to a new level.

And that's when we started seeing additional tools. Click view is what I use most of the time in my role, but Tableau is one of the newer tools and it's actually even easier than click view. So I think that it's much more of an entry level program that can easily be learned and taught in order to consume that data. With a growing focus on business analytics, what do businesses look at when hiring?

I think right now, what I see at least across my industry is people are really looking for individuals that want to learn those additional skills because our use of data is only ramping up. So we really need more and more people that have these technical skills or if they don't have them are very willing and able to learn. In my opinion, the best way to learn business analysis is really having that hands- on interaction.

I think a lot of times what can be great about a program is your ability not only to be learning like about the actual tools, but actually had that experience running through assignments and projects that you can look at to really have that experience with running through the data in a safe setting where you're obviously not impacting your business.

So I think these courses would be an excellent way to do so. One of the things I think I briefly skipped over before, apologies is one of my focuses when I'm looking at data is always, why are you analyzing this data? The most important thing to always keep in mind is what is your end goal? What answer are you trying to get to? Because it's very easy when you're analyzing data to kind of get lost in the analysis.

And keeping focused on what your goal is, making sure your data quality is there, if not, what do you need to fix in order to get your data quality, to being on par with where you need it. And then after analyzing that data, what story is it telling you? How do you really translate that into action? A lot of times, things that I've heard is someone will put together a presentation and present it. And then the question at the end is, okay, so what?

What is that telling you? What does it mean? Where do you go from here? What is the action that you now need to take as a result of your findings? So, one thing we're thinking about is what is big data in finance.

So, like I said before, it's no longer a top-down approach, but everyone now really you're finding across industries, not even just in finance, everyone is involved in data analytics and management at some level. It's used in sales for optimizing, execution and processing. It's used in control functions for fraud and risk management. It's used in automated investing and electronic trading.

And it's also used to look at consumer data and look at consumer behavior and determine how is a product being used and what future product offerings might make sense given what behavior you're seeing and what changes might you make to a product that you already have-

Jim Mahar: And Jessica I cannot agree anymore. That is absolutely rock on. And we obviously didn't practice this because someone's having technical issues and this is just literally as applied, but absolutely completely agree. Everything is integrated much more than ever has been. And the same people in marketing might be using the data and finance might be using the data and operations might be using the data a thousand times percent I agree. Yes, yes, yes, yes. Wonderful, great answer.

Where I see those going as we move forward is you're going to be seeing businesses using it to predict what the client needs or wants before they ask for it.

Jessica Robinson: Identifying areas of concern before the campaign, in terms of control areas. And then also currently, and I'm sure will continue in the future is using analytics to meet regulatory requirements for data management. We've I think the cross industries you've really seen the government regulators globally, really looking at data management.

I think that's definitely an area of focus in the future and then also using data to offer sustainability options. One thing that also has become of interest, especially over the last year and a half, I would say is investing or financing for sustainability causes. You're seeing an increase in sustainability funds that are being offered on stock markets.

You're also seeing security finance initiatives, especially within the US but also globally. So I think that'll definitely continue as well as other emerging client demands.

Matrecia James: Thank you. So now that you have valuable information on how business analytics and big data is relevant to industries across all industries, let's now talk about how a business analytics degree at St Bonaventure university School of Business might help you achieve your goals.

As we mentioned earlier, since business analytics is not bound to one industry area, professionals in our areas can benefit from knowing how to effectively analyze, use, apply, and communicate information derived from big data. And so as you think about it and you look at the functional areas traditionally thought about when you think about business, you have accounting, finance, human resources, and on down the line.

And from each one of those areas, analytics can be used to make important decisions. So they're highly integratable to each of the segments. And when you think about, okay, so if we look at accounting, maybe what career titles positions use analytics virtually all of them, but I'll kind of give you a few examples from each of the categories and this list is definitely not exhaustive. But in accounting you might have the loan officer, you'd have payroll specialist, financial service representatives, estimators, all using business analytics and the tools that you would learn in our program.

As you think about human resources, you have recruiters, hiring managers, employment specialists, talent acquisition coordinators, again using the skills that you would gain in different ways than the accounting department would use them but also in very important ways. And business administration, you have project managers, project coordinators, you have revenue cycle managers and clinical documentation improvement specialists, all using the skills of data analytics in various ways.

In marketing, which is often one of the fields you instinctively think about, but marketing specialists use it a lot. Marketing coordinators use it, marketing directors and public relations specialists, all use data analytics. On a different level you might think about supply chain and operations. Those areas you have procurement managers, buyers, logistics coordinators. When you think about research and development, you have data mining specialists who definitely dive into big data.

You have data research assistants and have information managers, and also implementation support specialists, all using data analytics. So as you can see and I didn't even really step outside of functional areas that are associated with business, but any of the areas that you work in because we're living in an age of information, having the ability to take data, analyze it, and then present it in meaningful ways is invaluable. So how do we approach the study of business analytics at St. Bonaventure and our School of Business? The program is 100% online.

All bachelor's degrees are welcome. So this is not predicated to the functional areas that you generally think of in a business school. You could be a psychology major. You could be a CIS major. You could be a history major, English major. Whatever the major is, if you have an interest in learning more about business analytics, or you have an interest in changing career paths and acquiring a job that does integrate more design analytics, we welcome you. This is a 22-month program and the classes are broken up into seven week courses.

We think this is quite doable for a working population. Most of our students do have jobs. And so we try to create an environment where we maintain high educational quality, but we are also considerate of the other responsibilities that our students might have. When you look at our degree plan, we try to set it up so that students can get or will get the core courses and skills needed to be successful, but also have the ability to customize the program.

So our program consists of nine credit hours of foundation courses. And what we mean by that is that's the basic knowledge you need to move forward to be successful in the program, but also core knowledge you need to be successful in the field. After that, we have 15 credits of core classes, and this gets you a bit more in depth into the actual engaging and applying analytics techniques, using a lot of the software that professor Reed talked about in the beginning.

And then we have six credits of electives and those electives that can come from any of the master's level programs on our campus that are affiliated with analytics. So this is the area where you have the opportunity to customize your program and to develop a depth of expertise and areas that you think are most relevant to you. We have examples here, but these are simply examples. We don't package the classes in any way, and the students have a full discretion on how they manage that.

So we have here where you see a mix of marketing communication classes, you see finance classes, you see cybersecurity and you see communications bundled, but you could decide that you wanted to take one class from three of the areas because you want to be more of a generalist, or you might decide to go in depth in one of those areas, but it's clearly up to the student. And in this way, you create knowledge in areas that are going to be most beneficial to you. And finally, the degree plan includes a capstone. And that's what we kind of synthesize all of the things that you've learned in your foundations and your core, and also things that you've gained from your electives.

So hopefully you have now confirmed your interest in business analytics, and also we've picked your interest in our program. And just to show you how easy it is to become a part of the St. Bonaventure family, I'm going to go right along and ask Marcos to talk to you about the admissions process.

Marcos Baez: Thank you, Matrecia. And yes, in terms of the admissions process here at St. Bonaventure for this program, it's a fairly simple one. First and foremost, we would like to conduct a phone interview with potential students just to ensure that the program fits what you're looking for. Once we cover those details, emissions requirements would include of course, submitting an application, providing us with a copy of from all institutions attended towards your undergrad.

There is no GMAT or GRE exam required for this program. So if you are interested, the next steps would be to get in contact with me so we can start that process.

Matrecia James: Thank you. Now we will have an opportunity for you to ask questions that may not have been addressed in our Q and A panel discussion.

So at this time, Katie maybe can help me with the-

Katie Macaluso: Absolutely.

Yes. Let's go ahead and get started. It looks like our first question says I've never taken an online course before. How easy is it to connect with the professor if I have questions about the material?

Matrecia James: So I can start to answer that, but we have two professors online and I'll ask that they jump right in. And what we commit to is providing a high-quality experience for students online that mirrors what we do on campus. So our faculty is very much available. There are easy platforms for you to reach out to them. They will reach out to you. Many of them will give you alternative methods of communicating with them as well. So I don't think you should have a problem connecting with your faculty, but I will let the professors online join in.

Jim Mahar: Sure. So this is Jim at finance. I literally, I give the first day of class on my syllabus, I give them my cell phone. They can text me at pretty much 24 seven. I've had no problem with that. And we create really cool groups. I'll give you one example. A couple of years ago, we did it pre COVID. We did was running at Halloween. Everyone either dressed up their dog or their kids, and they all shared pictures. And it really, I have been blown away at how much true community is created in the classroom, even though it's an online classroom, et cetera.

I have zero problems with that. And I don't think you'll have a problem. I wouldn't worry about that.

Katie Macaluso: That's great. Another question. This one on the curriculum, I think I'll send this one to you Reed. This question is, is machine learning incorporated into the curriculum?

Reed McElfresh: So machine learning would be covered to the predictive and prescriptive analytics courses. Machine learning and AI are somewhat interchangeable and those courses would use it's sort of algorithms that fall into machine learning and artificial intelligence yeah.

Katie Macaluso: Okay, great. Our next question, I'll probably send this to you Matrecia, this one is how important is the AACSB for this program?

Matrecia James: AACSB is very important because what it is is a symbol of quality. And there's only about 5% of the business schools that are AACSB accredited at St. Bonaventure being one of the smallest private schools that have this premier accreditation. So what this does is we create standards and assurance of learning and processes that ensure that you're getting cutting edge curriculum, and that you are being taught by faculty who are qualified and have expertise in the fields that they are teaching.

So I think it is a hallmark corporations recognize this accreditation and often look for those who have graduated from schools that are AACSB accredited. So I think it is certainly an asset to a person who graduates and you can use it and capitalize on it as you compete in the marketplace.

Katie Macaluso: Great. Thank you. Our next question asks, does SVU have licensed to the proprietary software. Python is free, but I recall that SPSS requires a license.

Reed McElfresh: So we don't use any software without being properly licensed. We have an IT department that makes sure that all of the software that we are using is properly licensed for the university.

Katie Macaluso: Great. Our next question asks, let's see, is what sort of support does your program offer for postgraduates regarding employment and career support? And I'm going to send this one to Dr. Mahar.

Jim Mahar: Career center does a great job. We work the career center pretty much every week. Sends out everything from internships to job opportunities. They do it for graduate and undergraduate. And then the other thing which I think is even more pronounced is our alumni connectivity, net networking, et cetera, is pretty much off the charts as far as I can tell. I know someone asked the basketball question. So I'm going to throw in a basketball story, which has actually happened to me. Coach Smith at one time was talking about how he went to Boston college.

And if he meets someone in the airport wearing a Boston college shirt, people say," Oh, hi." If at the same thing happens and he's wearing a St Bonaventure sweatshirt, people run down, give them hogs, et cetera, from multiple gates down at the airport. And that actually has happened. I've traveled through airports and people have done that, who I had no idea who they were came up. The alumni group works with everyone amazingly well. So that would be my answer to it.

Katie Macaluso: Perfect. Thank you so much. Our next question asked is if someone has secured an MBA, are there any courses waived?

Matrecia James: So I will answer this at a macro level. In most cases, the foundation, the intro to business analytics, if you saw on the other screen, one of the foundation classes is a class that our MBAs also take. And so that class would certainly be waived and I won't say in every single case.

But nine times out of 10, you have an MBA you would not have to take the MBA 515, as you can see, this is a cross- listed class that is in both programs. And then in order to determine if anything else is waived, your transcript would b

But I would say the safest bet is to say, you will have that intro to business analytics, one wave with an MBA.

Katie Macaluso: Okay.

Matrecia James: And also, can I jump in for one second, depending what you have? I mean, most people would take financial management, which is MBA 610. So, I mean, there are others that there's a high likelihood that would be as well.

And those would fall in your elective category. So when you were getting ready to specialize, if you wanted to say, I want to use this as an elective, you can do that. I don't know. I think my primary responses with the foundation and cores be wave most likely just that one. But as Jim said, when you start thinking about how you customize it, there may be others that you can bring forward.

Katie Macaluso: We also had a question asking if this program is, would you consider this a STEM program? Probably tasks that up to any of you I suppose.

Matrecia James: It definitely includes, analytics and math technology, and techniques. I think it depends on how you define that. For us, it is a business master's degree. That includes quite a bit of STEM. So I don't know necessarily how you would be defining or putting into category, but you are using some STEM skills.

Katie Macaluso: Great. Thanks, Matrecia. I think we've covered almost all of the questions at this point. So I just want to kind of put out a final call if you've still got any questions, please go ahead and submit those now. If not, of course we can follow up after the webinars as well. Marcos will be available for any questions. If you want to schedule an appointment with him, you can also do that directly on your screen on the right side. There's a place to schedule that appointment time at a time that's convenient for you. All right.

I don't think I see any other questions. So thank you all so much for all of these questions. Hopefully this presentation was helpful in understanding more about the program. If you have any additional questions, like I said, please do contact Marcos and reach out.

An on-demand recording of this session will be available tomorrow and will be emailed out to you. Thank you again, and have a great rest of your day.