Portia Brown, MSBA '14
Portia has a passion for big data analytics. At 27, the Memphis, Tenn., native works at Google, where she’s currently an account manager for large customer solutions, focusing on the telecom industry. Having had an undergraduate degree in international relations from Stanford and two years at AT&T under her belt before joining Google in 2010, she recognized that the Stern MSBA program would round out her skill set. “I just happened to come across the MSBA program and I knew at once it was the perfect fit for me,” she says. “It’s directly applicable to what I do in my day-to-day job, as well as filling what I see as a critical need in the marketplace for people who understand and are passionate about applying data analytics not just to financial spreadsheets but to the management of entire organizations.”
So far, the MSBA program has more than fulfilled Portia’s expectations: “Working at Google, data is king, so the program really has been extremely valuable for me. From fueling my cross-team collaborations with product engineers to deciphering back-end reporting for client presentations, I was almost immediately able to apply things I'd learned in class to my job.”
Portia concedes that even though she was a relatively recent graduate, going back to school was somewhat of a jolt, if a welcome one. “I'd honestly forgotten how challenging school is—definitely harder than the office! Getting into the swing of things was a little rough, but once I'd settled in and gotten comfortable with the pace of the work, it’s been manageable. The entire class has been very collaborative and communicative—I routinely host independent Google+ hangouts with my classmates to review material, discuss projects, and swap terribly nerdy data science jokes.”
Portia still finds time to read the historical nonfiction she enjoys, follow politics, cook, and cycle, but remaining on the fast track demands dedication and, yes, passion. “I've really been pleasantly surprised by the rigor of the program,” she says. “We are actively expected to dig into different programs and different problems to really understand at a fundamental level what business analytics entails. From there, we build on how to apply that learning to develop and encourage smarter organizations—ultimately making us much more valuable to our companies.”
With her international relations training and knowledge of Mandarin Chinese and Spanish, Portia is looking forward to a fascinating career. “Google is a fantastic place to work and has a myriad of opportunities,” she notes. “Once I complete my MSBA, I'm hoping to move into business strategy for one of our core products and help develop roadmaps that will shape the future of Google. I would love the opportunity to go abroad to work—either to China or South America. As big data and social media make the world both faster and smaller, working abroad would hopefully afford me the opportunity to expand my skills in new and challenging environments.”
Update: Please note that Portia is now the Principal Account Manager, Retail at Google.