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Master’s in Business Analytics: Borja Ureta, NYU Stern

Student Name: Borja Ureta

Graduate Business School: NYU Stern School of Business

Describe Yourself In 15 Words: Curious professional with 11 years of consulting experience in two different continents on four teams.

Master’s Graduation Class: 2020.

Undergraduate School and Major: Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Business Management and Law.

Current Employer and Job Title: KPMG US, Senior Manager.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I was promoted to manager in KPMG Spain after three years starting directly from school. Looking back, I feel very proud of this accomplishment, which is quite unusual. As in most cases, it was a nearly perfect combination of having great mentors, good timing, a lot of hard work and of course some luck too. 

Describe your biggest accomplishment as a graduate student: No doubt it was the capstone project experience. We formed an amazing team of individuals who were all highly motivated, driven and excited about the project at hand, which had a real client, with real data and a real problem. We also formed a strong personal bond, which was key to being successful.

We partnered with a luxury travel retail company that wanted to use data and analytics as part of their strategy to expand into the European market. We achieved the end-goal, which was getting an A on our project, but there was so much more than that in the end — including building numerous machine learning, time series, deep learning predictive models, and redistributing everything through an app and a corporate website for our team. It was really fun and amazing!

What was the key factor that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? If I had written a wish list to Santa asking for the perfect program for me, I wouldn’t have come up with a better mix than that of Stern’s Master of Science in Business Analytics. I moved to New York nearly five years ago, and I always wanted to have the U.S. business school experience. NYU is one of the top schools globally and that applies even more to Stern as a business school. On top of that, the combination of learning via online platforms between modules and in-class time, the flexibility in getting the work done and self-organizing, the global reach of the program, the diverse international cohort, the capstone project experience and the amazing group of professors is simply unparalleled.

What led you to choose a Master’s in Business Analytics over an MBA? Every case is a little different but for me, the choice was clear. I wanted a targeted program where I could obtain sound technical skills in the analytics field and at the same time get the key benefits of an MBA program, such as networking and leadership. The MSBA succeeds in delivering the best of both worlds. Upon completion I was coding in R and Python and developing my own algorithms. From a networking perspective, you meet senior professionals from diverse industries based all over the world. Time to completion is on the shorter end (one year) and requires strong commitment. The upside is that everyone in the program is very driven and the pace is fast across the board, which makes the experience a lot richer. Another aspect to highlight is that the course configuration focuses on developing senior professionals that can drive and lead analytics teams on top of empowering you to “get your hands dirty” with the code as needed. 

If you want a technically strong program in business analytics, where you can make the most efficient use of your time investment and that is targeted to experienced professionals, I don’t think there is a better option out there. 

What has been your favorite course and how has it helped you in your career? There are many I really enjoyed but if I had to name one that would be Introduction to Business Analytics with Professor Foster Provost. This is one of the first courses and possibly the most demanding and intense in terms of workload. This course was key in building a strong foundation to everything you will learn for the remainder of the program. Also, the skills you acquire are most useful at a managerial and leadership level. I always recommend Professor Provost’s book, “Data Science for Business,” to anyone wanting to get into the world of analytics. It is an absolute must-read! 

What role did your school play in helping you to land your first job out of the program? In short, this program was a complete door opener for me. I obviously wanted to have work experience in analytics and that is one of the reasons I went for the program in the first place. Even though I am very curious and generally embrace change, I have been with the same firm for nearly 11 years. I think that one of the reasons is that they have always been super supportive and have offered me diverse opportunities from a role and international perspective. Six months into the program, I was offered to rotate into the Artificial Intelligence team. 

Since then, I have been focused on data and analytics work, and I have worked on multiple projects on predictive analytics, simulation, econometrics, etc. This has been a game changer for me as I have been able to get significant work experience on most of the things I learned in the program, expand my network in the firm, and carve a different career path that wouldn’t have been possible without the program.

One additional piece of good news is that I will start lecturing next month remotely for a business school in Australia teaching social media analytics. I am very excited about this opportunity, and I can’t wait to share some of the knowledge I acquired during the past year. 

How did your classmates enhance the value of your business school experience? Given the pace and workload of the program, the vast majority of the cohort is super motivated and driven. While we all share a common interest in analytics and everyone comes from a diverse background. There is also a lot of interaction with other students resulting from the multiple group assignments, the in-class portion in each module, the capstone project and the international travel experience. I can say I learned nearly as much from other classmates as from the coursework. It’s fascinating how much knowledge and insights each of the students have to offer.

The program setup also makes it easy to build strong personal connections from in-class interaction and international travel. I had the privilege to be the class rep together with my classmate Mariana and that allowed me to interact frequently with everyone in the program. However, we were not an exception. Even now, we all stay in close contact through our Slack channel, social media and WhatsApp. I made some great friends that I plan on keeping for life. There is no doubt that this is a program where you get to meet people, know them deeply and make strong connections from a professional and personal standpoint!

Who was your favorite faculty member and how did this person enrich your learning? Anindya Ghose, who is MSBA’s academic director, co-director of the MSBA Capstone Program, professor of information, operations, management sciences, and marketing. His career trajectory, work experience, books and publications are impressive. However, what I would highlight is what a great individual he is and how important he is in bringing the cohort together. From the beginning of the program he built an authentic personal connection with each of the classmates. He was always supportive of any networking plan we did and made sure that we always had something planned that would bring everyone together. In a way, he was one of us at a personal level. Even today, we still speak regularly and stay in touch. He is an outstanding professional, a great professor and an excellent human being.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s graduate Master’s program? Work hard, play hard. That’s what I would tell myself if I went back in time. Work as hard as you can to ingest every single bit of knowledge you can from the program and classmates, and make sure to always say yes to every networking opportunity or plan that comes up. This way you will make the most of the program at a technical and personal level. Also, try to frontload your effort throughout the program. The first module is by far the most demanding and intense. If you can build a strong foundation and excel in Module 1, the rest of the program will go much smoother. Try to take some personal time off before or after the in-class time and plan a trip with some of your classmates. It will be really fun and you will get to visit amazing places with great friends. Once you finish the program, make sure you are proactive in staying in touch with as many people as possible. 

What was your best memory from your Master’s program? This is a very tough question as I have many. If I had to pick one, I would say the boat cruise in Shanghai all together during Module 3, followed by a walk around the city and a rooftop party, all after a long day of class at NYU Shanghai, one of the program’s global locations. It was a lot of fun and the first and only time I visited China and I was amazed by the city. I would go back to that day right now if I could!

DON’T MISS: MEET THE MASTERS OF BUSINESS ANALYTICS