Program Name: Master of Business Analytics
Length of Program: 12 months
Cost: €26,500, or about $28,864
Esteve Almirall’s roots are in the computer industry. He has worked for more than 20 years in executive- and board-level positions in IS, organization, and marketing for consulting, banking, and finance firms; as an entrepreneur he has actively participated in — and founded — several startups in the field. So it’s easy to see where he developed the core belief he brings to his current role as lecturer in ESADE’s Department of Operations, Innovation, and Data Sciences, and director of the school’s new MSBA: Business schools must take the lead in the digital revolution.
‘I believe that in a digital world, in a world that is transforming itself more and more into software, business schools cannot be absent and should be not only present but have a leading role in this transformation,” says Almirall, who earned an MBA from the University of California-Berkeley Haas School of Business. “Our business schools should train the business professionals of the future and these business professionals will be digital. Coding should become in BSs as common as spreadsheets, and analytics and experimentation the normal way to tackle projects and explore new ideas. Our job is to fully contribute to this transformation!”
That’s the basis for the launch of the Barcelona, Spain school’s MSBA this fall. Almirall believes the future of business lies at the intersection between technology and innovation; he is active and sought after for his expertise in the areas of “smart cities,” innovation ecosystems, innovation in the public sector, and user innovation. And he has coordinated several large EU competitive projects and participated in more than 10 of them as main researcher. Now, Building on ESADE’s years of integrating technology and data science into its programs — and with input from company partners and others — Almirall and the school’s faculty have designed the new MSBA to be a leader in analytics education.
“In our case, launching and planning this program involved many people — it has been truly a team effort,” Almirall tells Poets&Quants. “We started with this program checking the rest of the programs that were available. After, we held interviews with more than 20 companies asking their opinions on what should be there and what they wanted of our graduates. Internal checking and discussion has been extensive, with the involvement of many academics and non-academics from our organization.”
Why is ESADE launching the program? “One of the main drivers of change in management has been the availability of data and the generalization of the capacity of analyzing it. Particularly in native digital companies, we witnessed not only an abundance of data due to the ability of capturing all client interactions, even the most minimal ones. Together with an increasing capacity of doing real-life experiments gathering evidence on the interests and preferences of customers, this abundance of data is not only changing management but also asking for a new type of professional, a new type of data-savvy manager.
“ESADE has been integrating technology and data science in all its programs, from languages such as Python or R to Data Analytics, Big Data, visualization tools or cloud platforms. Our next logical step was to offer full programs in Data Science. Now we are offering two: one master of science and one executive diploma.”
How is it different from what else is on the market? “Our Master in Business Analytics is located in the middle of business and data science. Our students use Python, R, Sql, and A.I., and of course machine learning and statistical methods, but they also have a deep understanding of the business world and how to apply data science and business analytics to produce impact. In terms of contents, we can highlight:
“1. Cloud platforms have a significant position in the program. Not only Hadoop and Spark but also AWS (Amazon Web Services). ESADE has joined the AWS Academic program and it is offering in the MIBA (Master of International Business Administration) the AWS Academy Cloud Computing Architecture curriculum, which gives students access to the AWS Certified Solutions Architect-Associate certificate.
“2. Real projects with leading companies. MIBA incorporates in its curriculum real life projects with leading companies where students can acquire not only experience but also increase their networking in the field. These projects are long enough to permit a real involvement and deep contact with the realities of the companies.
“3. Speaker series. During the program, students will be able to attend and participate in our MIBA Speaker Series featuring leaders in the field. There, they will have the opportunity to know them more closely, contrast their ideas and increase their networking.
“4. Study trip to Silicon Valley. A trip to Silicon Valley with visits and discussions with leaders in the field, including a workshop in the D-school in Stanford on how to use design thinking in business analytics.
“5. Real coding projects. MIBA includes real coding projects in Python and R using the standard statics and machine learning libraries.
“6. An emphasis on business and impact. MIBA is not only a master’s that provides up-to-date tech skills, but its main focus is business and producing impact through Big Data and data analytics into these companies.”
Who is the ideal applicant and student? “Students who aim for having a deep understanding of technology but rooted on the business side are our target. We aim to train translators, professionals that can bridge between the tech world and the business world, knowing well both. So we welcome both students coming from the business side and students coming from tech areas.”
What’s the application process? Are GMATs or GREs required? An essay? All applicants must have the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree. All must take the GMAT or the GRE. No easy os required. Two letters of recommendation must be provided. There is a €135 ($148) fee.
What are the application deadlines? The final (seventh) open round deadline is May 16, with admission contingent on spaces still being available. Deadline for an eighth round that is open only to EU residents is June 13. The first round of deadlines for the 2018 intake will be in October.
What can a student do to best prepare for the program in advance of its start? Books to read? Podcasts to listen to? TED talks to watch? “There are certain skills that take time, you can learn them fast but full assimilation takes some time. Programming is one of them. If possible, we will recommend that students applying to this program to learn Python and R in advance.
“Regarding podcasts, O’Reilly Data Show, Software Engineering Daily, Google Cloud Platform Podcast, Data Stories, and Talk Python to me are our favorites.”
What will students learn in the program? What’s the program format? Students whose background is business-related are asked to complete the online Pre-Program in Data Science before starting the program. Those whose background is in an area other than business are asked to complete the online Pre-Program in Business. Both pre-programs are held from August to mid-September, before the start of the program.
Students choose between three tracks: Big Data & Data Analytics in Finance, Digital Marketing Analytics, and Industry 4.0 & IoT & Smart Cities.
Term 1: Foundations, from September to December, features these courses: Business in the Era of Big Data, Big Data Platforms and Data Management, Data Analytics for Business, Business and Society, and Legal and Ethics.
In January, students complete study tours and skills seminars. Term 2: Track and/or Electives, from February to March, features Big Data & Data Analytics in Finance, Digital Analytics in Marketing, and Industry 4.0 & IoT & Smart Cities. Electives include Sentiment Analysis and Model Thinking.
Term 3: Track and/or Electives, from April to May, also features Big Data & Data Analytics in Finance, Digital Analytics in Marketing, and Industry 4.0 & IoT & Smart Cities. Electives include Digital Business and Business Model Design.
Finally, Summer, from July to September, is dominated by there Master Project/Internship, In-Company Business Project, Business Creation Project, and Master Thesis (individually or in groups). There is also the class trip to Silicon Valley.
Is there a capstone or special project? If so, please describe it. “The Master includes the A2P – Analytics to Practice module, consisting in an opportunity to work in a real project with a leading company for a period of three months. It will be a large variety of projects to choose either on the business side or on more technical, and projects in between. The amount of time that will be devoted to them allows for not only having the experience of a real involvement, but also the opportunity to work with experts in the field for a period long enough to have a significant involvement and learn the best practices.
“The aim with A2P is to provide a first step in the path of building a professional career for our students. In order to achieve that, we try to find the type of project that matches not only students’ abilities but also their aspirations.”
What do you expect student outcomes to be? “We expect a variety of outcomes from our program. Possibly the most ‘natural’ outcome is to become translators bridging between the tech and business, but we are convinced that many will be entrepreneurs while others will work in consulting, training or sales, and some will become data scientists.”