Tales in Possible

Predict Possible

Five NYU Stern MBA Students are partnering with the Center for Business Analytics on a Stern Consulting Corps (SCC) project.

We’ve been able to apply a combination of our own real-world job experience and MBA coursework, as well as develop new ways of thinking.

NYU Stern MBA student Brandon Tikalsky was introduced to the business of big data during his digital marketing class last fall. “This course really sparked my interest,” he recalls. “There are so many decisions that data can help inform if you have the right data and the right tools for analysis. Data will never be able to replace human decision-making completely, but everyday data is helping humans make better and smarter decisions. I'm very data driven, both at work and in my own life, so learning ways to make more sound decisions and create efficiencies is extremely interesting to me. There's something almost elegant in taking thousands of data points and being able to justify change to the status quo.” Eager to expand his knowledge in this growing area, he decided to apply for a Stern Consulting Corps (SCC) project with the NYU Stern Center for Business Analytics.

The Center for Business Analytics is a new inter-disciplinary research initiative within NYU Stern, co-directed by Vasant Dhar, Professor and Head of the Information Systems Group, and Anindya Ghose, Daniel P. Paduano Fellow, Robert L. & Dale Atkins Rosen Faculty Fellow and Associate Professor of Information, Operations and Management Sciences. Brandon and his fellow MBA teammates, Andrew Chi, Robert Gurdian, Gabriel Rich and Lindsay Steele, are working with Professors Dhar and Ghose to open conversations with companies that are engaging in big data analysis and ultimately to develop strategic partnerships between companies and the Center.

The students bring diverse skills and experience to the project. Brandon has an electrical engineering degree and works in telecommunications. Prior to pursuing their MBAs, Andrew had a career in healthcare data management, Gabriel was a consultant and Robert was a media analyst working with large amounts of data. Lindsay brings career experience in digital advertising and social media.

“We’ve been able to apply a combination of our own real-world job experience and MBA coursework, as well as develop new ways of thinking,” Brandon describes. “We’ve used specific skills learned through our MBA courses for market analysis, for example. In thinking about how to engage with companies, we enlisted help from marketing professors at Stern. We also reached out to alumni and other Stern networks that helped us connect with companies.”

In addition to providing students with real-world consulting experience and familiarizing them with the business possibilities of big data, “the students are developing ties in the big data field,” Professor Ghose observes. “This project will help them in more than one way.” Brandon agrees: “In addition to gaining experience that will help me grow within my company, I wanted to develop relationships with professors and build contacts in the industry. This project is allowing me to do that. For example, I spoke with the head of data research at a major telecommunications company, the CFO of a beauty retailer and a data management associate at an energy company.”

Brandon has also learned how much growth potential exists in the field: “Something that is really interesting to me is how little is currently done with so much of the data that is out there. You see so many companies and brands on Facebook and Twitter, but so few of them actually use the data from these sites to help themselves. So many of them are basically flying blind in the decisions they are making.” He adds, “I'm excited to go out there and open some eyes!”