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Leon Lyazidi, MSBA '16


For Leon, his MBA program only served to whet his appetite for more data analytics learning; immediately upon earning his degree, he applied to NYU Stern’s MSBA program. “The MBA was a game-changer in helping me make marketing and media decisions, but I felt I needed more analytics skills to be competitive and advance in my career in a data-driven world,” he says. His experience founding a start-up convinced him that “machine learning and AI were about to revolutionize the world.” 
That self-determinism is one of Leon’s signature characteristics. A polymath who majored in pre-med as an NYU undergraduate, worked as professional musician, and relaxes with Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Leon carried his vision of a data-driven future through to his capstone project for the MSBA degree. Leon was a part of a capstone team that created, "the first artificial intelligent angel investor". Leon shares, “We sought to create a tool that could predict the success of start-ups in the pre-seed and seed stage of their lifecycles. In conjunction with Crunchbase and IBM Watson, we uncovered signals in founders using natural language processing and AI that showed significantly better returns than the top angel investors and investment strategies.”
Like Leon, the other students on his team had either been a part of a startup, were currently building one, or were on the verge of taking the plunge. “In a world where you can learn almost anything online, and for free, being around such an incredibly intelligent cohort was special,” he says.
Throughout the MSBA program, Leon nurtured his own start-up, Activatr, a hybrid content and consumer marketing platform that incorporates sentiment analysis of social media, audience analysis using social media API’s, cognitive computing using IBM Watson, automated insights using NLP, and natural language generation. “The first semester of the MSBA program was heavy on data visualization and networks, which could not have been more perfect in building our user dashboards. In fact, there was not one week during the program that I didn’t learn something and then immediately apply it to what I had been building. That kind of immediate payoff was really amazing.”
Several months after receiving his MSBA degree, Leon joined Ogilvy & Mather as Associate Director of Insights & Analytics on the IBM account. “I have already started to introduce many of the MSBA concepts in this new position,” he says, “and look forward to working on upcoming initiatives in media mix modeling and attribution modeling.”

Update: Since publication of this piece, Leon has changed roles to Partner, Director of Audience Intelligence & Insights at GroupM.