M.S. in Business Analytics: Our first class begins

7.11.2016 Article, Business Analytics, General, Reynolda Campus, School News

By Stephanie Skordas, Sr. Associate Director, Communications

The inaugural class of the M.S. in Business Analytics (MSBA) at the School of Business presents some compelling numbers: students from 27 colleges and universities around the world, more than a dozen different majors, nine Double Deacs, and two veterans. But this is not the whole story. Beyond these impressive statistics are even more impressive students.

For Denise Dubick who graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a degree in applied math and a minor in creative writing/poetry, the MSBA program will put her creative skills to the test. “I want to harness math for good.”

Dubick, who has been teaching girls about technology in both paid and volunteer positions since she was in high school, wants the program to help her use data science as a career. “It’s more than just writing the algorithms and grooming the data. The MSBA program focuses on understanding the business world and will give me the tools to apply these skills.”

She wants to use her skills to explore and leverage data offered by technology in K-12 classrooms to help revolutionize the way children are taught.

“I love having the students here,” Associate Dean of Business Analytics Jeffrey Camm said. “It was a bit abstract for the last year — but now it’s real.” Camm has worked with faculty and staff across the University and with industry partners to build the program from the ground up. The goal is to create business analytics professionals who can organize data, extract key insights, and effectively communicate their findings to executives.

That communication piece appeals to Grant Trivette, a Winston-Salem native who earned a business degree from UNC-Wilmington. With three years in the Army’s 82nd Airborne, including a year of combat service in Sadr City, Iraq, the former paratrooper wants to explore data visualization and communicating insights.

“I love telling a story and have a talent for doing that with numbers — like painting a picture,” Trivette said. “I know I’m going to enjoy those classes in the MSBA program.” The program’s location at Wake Forest University was a bonus: “I was born in Winston-Salem, I’m from a Wake Forest family, and it’s been a lifelong dream to come here.”

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“The diversity of our class is really outstanding,” said John White, the program’s executive director. “Almost half the class is female, we have a mix of students from the United States and other countries, and more than a dozen different undergraduate majors represented. We have a degree experience that is very much in demand, and I think that’s what attracted so many students to this new program.”

Matt Avery (’16) will be a Double Deac at the end of the program. The ink is barely dry on his business and enterprise management diploma earned in May and he’s ready to be back on campus. Now the former percussion coordinator for the University’s marching band, Spirit of the Old Gold and Black, is ready to find his rhythm as an MSBA student.

“In every leadership assessment I took for class, analytics popped up. I’m an analytical person,” he said. “I knew I wanted to do a Master’s program, so when I heard about the MSBA program in class, it stood out to me more than just a general management degree.”

The program was formally announced in February 2016, and within three months had exceeded its original enrollment goals. Woody Shi, who earned an accounting degree with minors in economics and philosophy from Ohio State University, heard about the program from a friend in March.

“When I looked it up online I thought it was an amazing program. My accounting experience will give me a foundation in the business part of the program, and my philosophy experience will bring logical thinking to the analytics side of the program,” he said.

Students in the MSBA program will focus on experiential learning projects with our corporate partners, including classroom use of real data from our Center for Retail Innovation’s Retail Learning Labs. Students will gain technical skills across a full spectrum of analytics methodologies, and develop business skills through innovative courses such as Analytics in the Boardroom, Analytics in Society, and Business Metrics.