Stephanie Gerber caught the business analytics bug by accident. After earning her BSBA in marketing, she spent a few months in an internship. “I got a teeny, teeny taste of analytics, in that I was doing some social listening,” she said. She didn’t realize she was taking her first steps into a whole new field. “I just thought, I really liked what I was doing, and it was nothing I’d ever done before.”
Stephanie went on to work for three years as a marketing coordinator, but “I always felt myself going back to that original internship that I fell in love with,” she said. So she did some research into graduate programs and learned about the Master of Science in Business Analytics at Daniels. “Once I found that, I knew that’s exactly the degree that I wanted.”
Why business analytics?
How did Stephanie know that business analytics (BA) was meant for her? Other degrees could teach her some of the concepts she was interested in, like information management and data modeling, she said. But BA adds another element—using that data to drive a business decision.
“That making-a-decision piece is the thing that most people lack. In a statistics program, you don’t get the business aspect. You just build models and then hand them over to somebody who makes decisions from there.”
“I don’t want to hand over my work to somebody who then presents it to the C-level execs. I want to be in the room.”
Because BA is a relatively new field, curricula vary a lot between schools, Stephanie explained. She researched schools all over the country and found that some focused on the computer science and coding aspects of the degree but left out the business aspects, while others focused on analysis and decision making, but didn’t give you the skills you need to process the data.
But DU combined both of those aspects. “In every course you do some technical skills, like coding or statistical modeling or learning new software,” she said. “But in every course you also have a business report or some sort of presentation to do that allows you to use the skills you’re learning.”
Striking out on your own for the capstone
“The biggest piece was the capstone project,” Stephanie said. “That was a huge seller for me.”
“DU is the only capstone in the country that is an individual, live capstone,” she said. “You basically are a consultant for eight months. You work with a company on a real-time problem that they’re having. It’s nothing that anybody has done before or that other students have seen. It’s always new.”
“Other schools have an individual capstone, but it’s with regurgitated data,” she said. “It’s something that people have done before. You just take a look at it yourself and see if you come up with something new. Or you have a live capstone, but it’s in a group.”
“I actually asked my professor, why do you do it this way? And he said, the best way to know if you’re ready to graduate and to go be an analyst is to put you in the hardest position possible.”
What’s next? The C-suite
After earning her Master’s in Business Analytics in the summer of 2018, Stephanie landed a data analyst job at Nordstrom Card Services in Denver, Colorado. But she’s always looking ahead.
“In the long run, my goal is to be in the C suite of a company,” she said. “Whether it’s as the marketing officer, just with an understanding of analytics, and that’s what’s driving my campaigns, or whether it’s solely on the data side, using analytics to help other aspects of the business.”
“The long-term goal is to be up there in a company and making those decisions, and actually having somebody listen to them and implement.”
Want to know more about Stephanie? Check out her student profile.