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Padma Hari, MSBA '15

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Padma had applied her finance and IT skills across diverse businesses, including a fast-food giant, a major bank, a tech company, and a food manufacturer. When she earned her Master of Science in Business Analytics degree from NYU Stern, she acquired a newly created position in yet a different industry: as operational vice president in charge of business intelligence and analytics at Bloomingdale’s, the upscale department store giant.
 
“MSBA training was very critical in my getting the Bloomingdale’s position,” Padma says. “It gave me the ability both to hypothesize a business problem and prove my theory, indisputably, using data and presenting it in an effective visual manner” Responsible for BI and analytics strategy, architecture, and deployment, Padma leads a team comprising programmers, a business analyst, and a data scientist. As OVP, she sits on the corporate management committee.
 
A native of Chennai, India, Padma pursued a business analytics program out of intellectual frustration: “I was working for a manufacturing company that was devoted to lean manufacturing. We measured every small step in the manufacturing process but never took it beyond the measurement to draw insights from what the data was trying to tell us, like where our inefficiencies were. This is how my desire to look into predictive analytics started. Even though I was able to build a BI and analytics center of excellence, I felt I still needed academic validation to ensure I was not leaving any stones unturned.”
 
In Stern’s MSBA program, Padma says, she found “perfect harmony of data science and specific business application.” She appreciated that the faculty infused the academic lessons with their own practical experience, and although she has only recently moved to New York, she is already impressed with the “power” of NYU Stern’s global alumni network.
 
“The whole MSBA experience was life-changing,” Padma says, as much for what she learned from her classmates as from the curriculum. “Overall, I learned to see new possibilities, to make more educated decisions, not by going strictly on the experiences of senior leadership,” she says.
 
She attributes her newly acquired skills in part to her experience with her MSBA capstone project, which her team initially organized with the goal of predicting child abduction. “As we started looking at the data, we realized it’s very hard to predict human response, so we modified our goal to instead predict the probability of harm in cases of abduction. This whole experience truly taught me how to differentiate between noise and signal.”
 
That sophisticated understanding of the relationship between data on human behavior and predictability is invaluable in her new role at Bloomingdale’s. “We are mapping the customer journey and changing how we communicate to the customer based on the touch points,” Padma says. “MSBA has proven to be a great asset.”