Lily Quinto-Banton, MSBA '17

A portrait of Lily Quinto-Banton

Lily Quinto-Banton may not have had much when she came to the United States from the Philippines—$700.00 in her pocket, to be exact—but she did have one essential quality: confidence in herself. “I always thought: as long as I have ideas and as long as I have my mind, I can accomplish anything.” 

Lily set out on a path in computer science and eventually landed at Barclays as Business Intelligence Lead for the Risk and Analytics team. “I was a Jill-of-all-trades, working on data visualization, predictive analytics, project management, and business analysis, and I led a lot of initiatives to work with senior level folks in Sales, Trading, COO, and Risk Management,” she says. “My team introduced what’s possible with data to business stakeholders.” 

Having eclectic interests, Lily also discovered and took an interest in the work of professional futurists, who are employed by corporations to scan the horizon for any kind of emerging trend that might have an effect on the future.  She felt a fire light inside when she became part of the first data science initiative in the front office at the investment bank.  Barclays hired an external company of data scientists to create a predictive model to help advise their sales team.  “It was a fun experience,” she says, “but I envied the data scientists. I also realized that my ideal career would combine knowledge in quantitative methods in data science with the research and scanning methodologies in futurism.  I wanted to be a person whose job it is to help companies prepare for the short and long-term future.”  

She also wanted to collaborate with a diverse set of professionals who would challenge her out of her comfort zone. “I wanted to disrupt myself,” she says. “I wanted to be inspired.” 

Motivated by this, she began to scout out analytics graduate programs, with an eye for a curriculum that went beyond the technical.  “I’m a big believer in not having your knowledge sit in an ivory tower. You need to find a business application for it.”  NYU’s program offered the right balance between technical skills and application, with a capstone being part of the program.  “It helps determine whether your ideas and skills will result in creating a product that has business value. That pragmatism is important.”

Lily was surprised by how directly she draws on her courses in her current job as Lead Data Scientist at Humana. “In the Dealing With Data course, we studied some material that I thought was too obscure to be used—now I find myself using it! Data Science with Business Analytics was a great foundational course for analytics process. My team at Humana uses that textbook in our data science projects.”  

Other highlights of NYU’s program were the relationships she created with her peers which provided the opportunity to learn from people in different industries and to see how analytics was applied in various fields. “I loved my cohort.  The differences in background and thought process and the interaction I’ve had gave me different ideas of what is possible for my career.” 

One of those working relationships opened the door for Lily’s current role at Humana. A classmate worked for the company, and after graduation took on a role as Director of Analytics. As he was building his analytics team there, he reached out to Lily. “He had seen my work and what I was capable of and wanted me to apply to a data scientist role,” she says. “Without my interactions with colleagues, I never would have landed this job. Not only that, but I had other opportunities to choose from after I graduated. A lot more recruiters reached out to me based on the NYU Stern name.” 

In her short time at Humana, Lily has been promoted to Lead Data Scientist, and she is determined to keep growing. “I love to learn. That’s the fun part! I have the curiosity of a five-year-old. My goal at least in the immediate future is to develop both technical and soft skills not just to lead data science projects, but to lead a team of data scientists.”

Lily will also continue to be an advocate for NYU Stern’s program, particularly to women in analytics.  Her advice? “Take a good stock of your current skills and interests and think about your end game. What are the gaps between then and now? Be very conscious about how to cover those gaps. Fully immerse yourself in material. Try to learn from your peers.  No matter how trivial or difficult the task, do your best. You never know who is paying attention to you.”