The first cohort of MSc in Business Analytics is just about to finish. How was the first year of the program?
I believe the first year was a great success. Being pioneers in such a complex area is always a big risk but I believe the structure we put together has proven to be very effective. After careful selection of the students we managed to put together a great team. Students were from many different fields and all with diverse background and experience. Although it is good to have experience it is not a must as the evolution is so rapid that even a fresh graduate could bring equally valuable knowledge into class as the student who has experience working in the specific area for more than 20 years.
I see strong potential in most of the graduates of our program. Some may even become Chief Data Officers in large organizations; others may become top data experts. Let me quote here one of our graduating students, Andrea Barabás: “The courses strongly encourage collaborative work among classmates from various firms and government organizations. This leads to broader knowledge sharing as well as excellent networking opportunities.” I fully agree with her, the most valuable outcome of the first class was the strong community they built during the year, not only with their classmates but also with their teachers. We have faced a lot of challenges during the journey but we learned a lot and as a result, we have enhanced the program for the next group. As a first step, graduates will present their final projects in front of the new students during their orientation in the fall. This will be a great opportunity for both teams, apart from extending their network and ensuring some continuity: graduate students will have the opportunity to showcase their learning in front of a wider audience and new students will gain insights in what is going to happen by the time they reach the end of the road.
The first graduate team is in a very unique position; they have the opportunity to define the future of Business Analytics, not only in Hungary but also in the region. The professional network they built during the program will prove to be invaluable in the future.
Having the experience from the first year what would you consider changing in the future?
The flow of the program was vigorous and the structure of it was well grasped by the students. One of the top students László Salló said: “CEU provides a carefully selected mix of materials, amazingly prepared instructors and inspiring colleagues to acquire the data driven mindset of the future.” I think that this quote well describes our intentions with this program.
This past year, other schools have designed programs on the fields of Big Data and Business Analytics This is evidence that we have come up with a program that has been missing from the market and much in demand. We can now compare this program with others, we can share our experience with them and we can learn from eachother. It is clear that there will be a great number of jobs in the field of Business Analytics in the future, such as Data Scientists up to Chief Data Officers. The cut between them is not a straight line, at least not for the time being. We need to find a good balance between the different roles, and for this reason we would like to introduce some new courses in the program eg. Ethical and Legal Aspect of Data Management; something that will definitely become a hot topic in the near future but nobody dares to deal with such topics for now. Other topics such as Industry 4.0 are also important and need to be incorporated into the program as it will reshape the manufacturing industry.
One thing we would not like to change is the top down approach; business value is always the most important factor that needs to be considered. We would definitely like to strengthen the four pillars of our program in order to give a holistic view, a framework to our students and not just teach them how to use certain tools. The first pillar is Technology, focusing mainly on how to manage data. Statistical knowledge will help students interpret data. The Economics component is for evaluating the data and, last but not least, the fourth pillar, the Business element is necessary to make conclusions based on data.
What do you expect from the next year? Who are the good candidates?
Getting the word out is very important and I think something has already changed as compared to last year, when most of our students came from the local market; candidates for next year are from all over the world including China, India and even the US. In addition, companies are also very interested in our students; we have over 200 job offers for our graduates. Some companies have recognized that it is not easy to attract those few graduates who finish the program so they have started investing in their own people. However, most of our students still invest in themselves and their future: people who could recognize the importance of Business Analytics. One of our candidates is a CEO who said that he needs to have better understanding of his daily decisions. Other students who are fresh graduates are looking for additional skills and competencies to future-proof their careers. The majority of the team has decided to study refreshing and enhancing their knowledge. Considering the above, I cannot define a single type of student who could fit into our program: it is difficult to define the traits of students who fit our profile since they vary in so many ways and can come from any industry, any level and with any background.
Getting the big picture from meet ups and online courses is not simply impossible, but it is also not enough. These are good complementary activities to keep one’s knowledge up to date after finishing a MSc in Business Analytics program. People need to get the big picture and not just part of it in order to have clear understanding of the topic so that they could easily adapt to any changes and circumstances, find new ways to solve the problems and overcome the challenges of the future.