Master’s in Business Analytics: Leah Greenberg Kelly, UCLA (Anderson)

Student Name: Leah Greenberg Kelly

Graduate Business School: UCLA Anderson School of Management

Describe Yourself In 15 Words: I am driven by a curiosity about human behavior and socioeconomic trends.

Master’s Graduation Class: 2019.

Undergraduate School and Major: Boston University, Economics and International Relations.

Current Employer and Job Title: Nike, Data Scientist.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest accomplishment has been developing trust in my intuition. My career has been driven by a passion for uncovering insights and solving complex problems, and while at times the next step in my career has been clear, at other times it’s been difficult to decide where to go next! I’ve learned over time to trust my curiosity and my instincts even when the path feels uncertain, and doing so has provided the greatest personal and professional fulfillment.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as a graduate student: Two fellow classmates and I entered and won the Humana-Mays Healthcare Analytics Case Competition during the final quarter of our program. We developed a predictive model and strategic framework to help healthcare professionals identify patients at risk for long-term opioid use to allow for early intervention. The competition was a great opportunity to work together using the skills we built in the program to solve a challenging problem with real social impact.

What was the key factor that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? I chose the UCLA Anderson School of Management MSBA program because it emphasizes holistic personal and career development. To be a successful analytics professional the hard skills are only part of the equation – you have to be able to identify and break down problems, collaborate with others, and effectively communicate your ideas. These skills aren’t easily taught, and the Anderson program offered me this end-to-end training in a variety of different contexts so I could become more versatile. 

What led you to choose a Master’s in Business Analytics over an MBA? I already knew that I loved research and working with data, and that became my guiding light when exploring graduate degree programs. I wanted the foundational and experiential learning that a business degree offers, but I also wanted to dive deep into new and innovative ways to leverage the power of data to reveal trends and solve organizational challenges. The MSBA program was the perfect fit.

What has been your favorite course and how has it helped you in your career? Professor Keith Chen’s Strategy Analytics course typified the value of the MSBA program in that it taught me how to think, not just how to do. Causal inference is one of the most challenging and potentially impactful areas of analytics, and Professor Chen gave us a fundamental framework for how to identify and model causation that I use almost every day when I’m studying how different factors interact to bring about a particular outcome.

What role did your school play in helping you to land your first job out of the program? An Analytics Director from Nike came to campus to speak to our program about the ways her team was using data to understand the needs of the consumer and transform the global supply chain. Before the presentation I hadn’t considered a career in the retail industry, but after learning about Nike’s accelerated analytics strategy and some of the innovative projects they already had in the works, I knew I wanted to learn more. The rest is history!

How did your classmates enhance the value of your business school experience? The relationships I made with my fellow classmates were an important part of my experience. The cohort size is deliberately small and brings together individuals from across the world, from all walks of life and a range of disciplines, and has a particular emphasis on gender parity, which is a rare treasure in the analytics world. Much of our work was done collaboratively, and I learned as much from my fellow classmates as I did from the course material itself and developed friendships that will last a lifetime.

Who was your favorite faculty member and how did this person enrich your learning? I had so many wonderful professors in my time at Anderson that I can’t choose a favorite, but I will say that my subject matter knowledge grew the most in my Customer Analytics class taught by Professor Anand Bodapati. Professor Bodapati provided the most comprehensive review of current marketing and customer analytics techniques possible given the time frame of the course, and though at the time this meant tens of hours of homework a week, I went from having a cursory understanding of the subject to having a strong foundation that I’ve continued to build on.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s graduate Master’s program? Be bold and follow through. “Be bold” became the unofficial motto of the program via our career services guru Larry Braman, and it is great advice for the program and your career. Being bold is about putting yourself out there and being actively engaged in all of the opportunities you’re given, because you never know where a conversation or insight may lead. And also follow through, because it’s the quiet, diligent reflection and work at the end of the day that turns those initial leads into growth opportunities.

What was your best memory from your Master’s program? My best memories from my master’s program are the social outings after a long week – going bowling after exams or heading to a karaoke bar on a Friday night. The program is a lot of work but you get through it together as a cohort with the full support of faculty and staff, and that made the celebration at the end of a big push that much more rewarding.


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