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Master’s in Business Analytics: Chandini Gangadharan, University of Washington (Foster)

Student Name: Chandini Gangadharan

Graduate Business School: University of Washington Michael G. Foster School of Business

Describe Yourself In 15 Words: Analytics professional with a growth mindset influencing positive business outcomes through people, data, and processes. 

Master’s Graduation Class: 2020.

Undergraduate School and Major: Gujarat Technological University, Computer Engineering

Current Employer and Job Title: Amazon, Business Analyst II.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far:  I see my career as a journey consisting of a series of accomplishments, each new one building on top of another, and each as fulfilling as the other. I believe that every win, while a testament to a personal sense of purpose, diligence, and drive, is also made possible by one’s team, environment, and support system.

In just under five years with my previous employer where I had started my career fresh out of college, I sought and took the opportunity to work in several capacities, most of which roles that I had carved out for myself such as my job as a Senior Analyst, a Project Management Officer, and even Divisional Lead for Women in Technology. Throughout these roles, I discovered immense fulfillment in being able to drive positive outcomes and enhance experiences through people, data, and processes.

I look forward now to continuing my journey of accomplishments in this second phase of my career at Amazon.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as a graduate student: As a graduate student, I am proud to have let my ideas and identity shine through as an active and contributing member of my cohort. I believe I was able to make an impression in the minds of the people I worked with and learnt from as we shared mutually enriching educational experiences.

What was the key factor that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? The University of Washington’s Foster School of Business was my first choice among several schools I researched that offer advanced degree programs in Business Analytics. Foster is placed among the top-ranked business schools in the nation – it offers a best-in-class curriculum and a diverse environment bringing together the shared ideas and experiences of professors, industry leaders and students. Besides its brand value, the UW Foster School is also just a stone’s throw away from Seattle’s technology hub – this opens the door not just to excellent learning opportunities during the program but also numerous professional opportunities post-graduation.

What led you to choose a Master’s in Business Analytics over an MBA? In the past, I have led several initiatives tapping data for insights to optimize operations, influence decision-making, and improve the customer experience for the organizations I worked with. To advance my career further in this direction, I decided I wanted to get back to school for a technically-oriented program that would still give me the perfect interdisciplinary balance of both the Data Analytics and Business worlds. For me, the UW Foster’s MS in Business Analytics program promised this experience. Courses such as Customer Analytics, Marketing Analytics, and Operations and Supply Chain Management not only cover functional knowledge but are designed to include practical applications of analytical modelling and the exercise of R, Python, and Statistical Analysis tools to solve business problems. Other courses such as Spreadsheet Modeling, Probability and Statistics, Data Management and Visualization, Machine Learning Methods and AI mainly focus on technical aspects and become the foundation of the academic experience. 

What has been your favorite course and how has it helped you in your career? While I enjoyed all the courses in my master’s program, BUS AN 599: Business Analytics’ Leader Series and Practicum was my favorite. This course introduced me to several industry leaders in analytics and business whom I was able to network with and learn from through seminars and discussions. The course also included a capstone experience which allowed me the opportunity to work on an industry project where I could apply my in-class learnings and skills to deliver value to a real business. Through this channel, I engaged with Microsoft Corporation on a behavioral analytics project, identifying success patterns in customer engagement data affecting sales account growth. The experience helped me grow both personally and professionally.

What role did your school play in helping you to land your first job out of the program? In terms of providing the right avenues, the Career Center at the UW Foster School conducted networking sessions and career fairs that helped me widen my professional network and connect me to recruiters. They also arranged mock interviews with professionals from various companies including big tech to help students get personalized feedback about their interview readiness. This exercise helped me identify my opportunity areas and polish my strengths to better prepare for the job search.

On the other hand, having had a supportive program that helped impart the knowledge, hard skills, and confidence to succeed in the job market, proved essential. To this end, our MSBA program director Sara Jones and her team had put in a lot of effort throughout the program to continuously tune our experience based on our feedback about course content, teaching methods, and whether our goals were being met.

How did your classmates enhance the value of your business school experience? My classmates came from diverse backgrounds, and this made it especially interesting to learn and collaborate with them. Each person brought different perspectives to the table, leading to more meaningful and thorough discussions. Throughout my academic experience, my cohort constantly motivated me to be the best version of myself and in turn expect the same of them. On projects with shared goals, we kept each other accountable as teammates while working off each other’s strengths. 

Who was your favorite faculty member and how did this person enrich your learning? MSBA courses at the Foster School are taught by professors who are among the best in their respective fields. They each not only crafted and delivered relevant, up-to-date, and engaging course content but also curated a good blend of individual and group learning experiences. One of my favorite faculty members is Prof. Foad Iravani who taught us Probability and Statistics. His passion for the subject reflects strongly in his teaching and he has a unique way of making the complex seem simple.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s graduate Master’s program? For me personally, engaging early with the MSBA program team through information sessions and directing specific questions to them through the usual communication channels helped me better assess how well the program would fit my goals as well as the scope of commitments expected of me. Reaching out to program alumni is also a good idea to get first-hand perspective on their experiences during the program. 

What was your best memory from your Master’s program? It would be difficult for me to pick just one memory and tag it as the best. My entire master’s experience, right from the day-1 campus tour, orientation, and soon after starring in a group introduction video, to poster-presentation, pizza parties during class break, and end-of-quarter goodies, to work meetups with teammates at Paccar Hall, excited discussions, and the feeling of accomplishment on graduation day are all amazing memories and connections I will cherish. 

DON’T MISS: MEET THE MASTERS OF BUSINESS ANALYTICS