Sri Kannan Sridharan, MSBA '15
“Stern’s MSBA program is not simply a very deep analytics and machine learning course, but rather takes a managerial and strategic view of data analytics. If one wanted to become a data scientist, there are other alternatives, but if one wanted to strategically manage business and business technology, the broad sweep that MSBA provides is the critical success factor.”
That’s high praise indeed, as Sri is a deeply experienced executive who has held senior management positions in several Fortune 100 companies in key industries, including financial services, information management, consulting, energy, and transportation. Sri was also the director of the Lockheed Martin unit that developed and implemented E-ZPass and similar systems all over the US in the nineties. He is currently managing director of AXA’s Digital Transformation/Cloud Program for the Americas as well as the interim global leader for the Cloud program.
Sri joined AXA in this newly created role after earning his MSBA degree. It wasn’t just the Stern name that burnished his résumé, he asserts, it was the fact that having experienced the program with its managerial and strategic orientation “made me stand out from other candidates who might be equally good tech strategists.”
Since finishing up his studies in India in 1982, Sri hadn’t been back to school. What motivated him, after having been an SVP at Reed Elsevier and VP at AIG, among other senior positions, was his observation that, in a world of rapidly evolving technology, where marketplace and production data was actually changing companies, “organizations that adopted data analytics in even routine decision making seemed to leapfrog more often.” He realized he needed to add “a deep and broad data analytics dimension” to his skillset.
Despite his decades out of school, Sri relished his MSBA experience. A tech strategy advisor at the time, he was able to reduce his schedule. Even more helpful, “The subjects, the faculty, the facilitations, and most importantly the interactions with the fellow students, simply made it a breeze. In fact, at times I felt a bit guilty that I got so much out of it—the energy and enthusiasm of all the participants is contagious.”
As AXA moves toward a global digital transformation, Sri’s role is to lead that migration. In case after case, he relates, what he learned at Stern is fundamental to making that happen. “Knowledge around big data analytics, predictive modeling, and machine learning help quickly align the requirements of the data scientists and the capabilities of information technology sides of the business. This leads to significantly faster project start-up times, and equally importantly, the ability to embed 'how to scale' thinking as data scientists do their thing.”
The MSBA program added “measurably and remarkably” to Sri’s toolset for managing his company’s transformation, he adds. “Before the program I could confidently approach the what and how of strategic solutions; after the program I am now able to address the why and what-all dimensions to great effect.”