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Master’s in Business Analytics: Douglas Levine, Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)

A Master’s in Business Analytics will provide you with a solid statistical and coding foundation that will set you up with well developed analytical techniques to apply in any role.  If you’re more interested in trying to develop new machine learning algorithms or methods, the program may not be the best fit for you, and you may get more out of a Data Science or Statistics program”

Student Name: Douglas Levine

Graduate Business School: Carnegie Mellon University Tepper School of Business

Describe Yourself In 15 Words: Former Music Journalist and current DIY enthusiast, spreadsheet obsessed Corporate Finance and Strategy Associate.

Master’s Graduation Class: 2019.

Undergraduate School and Major: Brandeis University, Economics, Psychology, and Business.

Current Employer and Job Title: Goldman Sachs, Associate.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Managing the transition from a Product Innovation role at an insurance company to a Corporate Finance and Strategy role at Goldman Sachs was a large change for me.  I had never worked in finance and my training was fairly hands-off, requiring me to figure out a lot of my role on my own.  Just as I was starting to get up to speed the pandemic hit, completely changing the priorities we were working on and forcing me to continue to adapt in the role.  This was extremely challenging, but also very rewarding to be so immediately involved in the management of our funds, ensuring that we could weather the economic downturn and continue to serve our investors.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as a graduate student: The capstone project was both challenging and rewarding. We partnered with a team at FedEx to analyze their ground network and propose a new framework for selecting where to open additional hubs. It was great to apply methods and learnings from our classes to a real-world unsolved problem. The project completed with us presenting our proposals with the larger FedEx team.

What was the key factor that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? I was drawn to the applied nature of Tepper’s program; every class was designed around applying methods to real business situations. We utilized real data from companies and were pushed to analyze it to determine how the company could best accomplish their objectives based on the empirical evidence.  As a result it was easy to draw parallels to my job, allowing me to bring examples from work into the classroom to discuss or take learnings from class and immediately apply them at work.

What led you to choose a Master’s in Business Analytics over an MBA? Given that I was only a year out from my undergraduate degree, I was focused on broadening my analytical toolkit as well as gaining experience in the full cycle of analytics, from analyzing data for trends to prescriptive analytics and driving business recommendations with the analysis.  I felt that the MSBA would set me up to both excel in my current role while opening new analytics opportunities.  Further, given the focus that many companies have on better utilizing big data for strategy decisions, I wanted to gain insight into these methods both to apply them myself and effectively manage analysts in the future.

What has been your favorite course and how has it helped you in your career? My favorite course, and the one most applicable to my work, was Operations and Supply Chain Analytics with Joseph Xu. In the course, we ran statistical simulations to understand the efficiency of various scenarios as modeled using different probability distributions, such as analyzing the expected wait and treatment times at a medical clinic.  While my role is not at all related to Operations or Supply Chain Management, Professor Xu emphasized building flexible code that could easily be adapted to introduce new complexities to the scenarios – adding more employees to the clinic simulation for example.  I’ve carried forward this flexibility in the financial modeling I conduct at work, ensuring that our models are robust enough to handle any change to our business environment or the economy.

What role did your school play in helping you to land your first job out of the program? The courses allowed me to hone my coding skills, while also providing me with analytical frameworks to apply at work.  Additionally, the intensity of the program when paired with my role when I first started at Tepper allowed me to realize that I was capable of thriving in a more challenging and fast-paced environment.  The career center was also fantastic, helping me prepare for my interviews as well as guide me through transitioning out of my prior role.

How did your classmates enhance the value of your business school experience? With a part-time program, everyone has other things going on in their lives as well as a full time-job.  Everyone in the cohort looked out for each other, picked up slack and shared the work when needed to make sure we all got through the program together.  Additionally, with such a wide range of ages, industries, and prior education, discussions in class provided an interesting opportunity to understand how others were thinking of applying the course work in their roles.

Who was your favorite faculty member and how did this person enrich your learning? My favorite faculty member was Willem van Hoeve who was both the dean of our program and taught the Optimization for Prescriptive Analytics course.  Willem’s teaching style involved laying out frameworks first, then walking through an optimization method applying that framework, and finally presenting a real-world example of a more complicated application of the method.  This style helped me directly apply the frameworks to other topics, not related to optimization. I also enjoyed the lively discussions in class around how different companies and industries had found ways to adapt the methods to solve their unique challenges.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s graduate Master’s program? Know what you’re looking for.  A Master’s in Business Analytics will provide you with a solid statistical and coding foundation that will set you up with well developed analytical techniques to apply in any role.  If you’re more interested in trying to develop new machine learning algorithms or methods, the program may not be the best fit for you, and you may get more out of a Data Science or Statistics program.

What was your best memory from your Master’s program? The weekends spent together with my classmates in Pittsburgh each semester.