Master’s in Business Analytics: Natalie Honda, Indiana University (Kelley)

The best advice I can offer an applicant is to follow their interests and just go for it. Regardless of your background or current role, if you are interested in a topic, skill, or career and have the drive to learn, it is worth pursuing.”

Student Name: Natalie Honda.

Graduate Business School: Indiana University Kelley School of Business.

Describe Yourself In 15 Words:  I am an analytical problem-solver and ambitious learner, always seeking new opportunities to better myself.

Master’s Graduation Class: 2020.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Connecticut, Economics & Psychology.

Current Employer and Job Title: The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Business Administrator.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far:   My biggest career accomplishment thus far was taking the leap to change careers. After undergrad, the only job I was offered was in a field I had no previous exposure to and was not really related to my educational background. Though I appreciate the risk of hiring someone fresh out of college, it’s easy to become complacent. Deciding to make a change can be extremely daunting. Recognizing this career was not one that would fulfill me long term and taking steps to initiate a new career path is something I am incredibly proud of. 

Describe your biggest accomplishment as a graduate student:  As a graduate student, my greatest accomplishment was completing my degree while continuing to work full-time. In this day and age, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy balance of work and personal life. Adding school into the mix only complicates this delicate balance. I’m proudest of my ability to not only have preserved my mental health, but also to have successfully navigated full-time employment, extracurriculars, school and maintaining personal relationships.

What was the key factor that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you?  I deliberated going back to school for several years, however the ultimate factor for choosing Kelley was the potential for furthering my career. Working in a role that I wasn’t passionate about nor was related to my educational background, I knew I needed to change my path. Kelley’s affordability, flexibility and the curriculum of the Business Analytics program also played pivotal roles in solidifying my decision. 

What led you to choose a Master’s in Business Analytics over an MBA?  After a couple years of employment, several colleagues were pursuing their MBA and the pressure and drive to pursue a secondary degree was building. Despite the applicability of an MBA, in deciding which program was right for me, I had to focus on my future career goals. Realizing my passion lies in the analytical side of business, I knew the MBA was not the right path for me and I sought a more specialized degree. I first heard of the Kelley School of Business and Kelley Direct through a colleague who had started the MBA program. In discussing the dual master’s program, he mentioned the Business Analytics track. The program immediately caught my attention and after further research, I knew this was the program for me.

What has been your favorite course and how has it helped you in your career?  I chose the Master’s in Business Analytics specifically because of the curriculum. Therefore, choosing a favorite course is difficult. In reflecting on the courses, two stand out as favorites: Data Intelligence and Visualization and Creating Value Thru Business Analytics Applications. Data Intelligence introduced us to various analysis and visualization tools which are used across industries and can be utilized with all sorts of data. Delving into each of these tools and programs has expanded my repertoire and will be incredibly helpful in future roles. Prior to Kelley and Creating Value Thru Business Analytics Applications, my Excel knowledge was rudimentary. Throughout this course, I learned the immense power of Excel and have been able to greatly improve analyses in my day-to-day reporting. The applicability of these courses and potential to continue to utilize these skills in my current and future roles is irreplicable.

What role did your school play in helping you to land your first job out of the program?  When I started at Kelley, I was working in procurement and looking for other opportunities to change paths to a more analytical position. With a few classes under my belt, I successfully transitioned to my current position as Business Administrator at JPL. Though I am confident I can learn any new role, having Kelley on my resume and being able to directly tie my courses with the prospective job responsibilities was instrumental to landing the new job.

How did your classmates enhance the value of your business school experience?  In an online program, connecting with fellow students remotely can be challenging. However, the prominence of homework groups and project teams throughout the program ensured there were myriad opportunities for classmates to interact. This teamwork and camaraderie fostered friendships and expanded networks which helped humanize the experience and pave the way for future endeavours. 

Who was your favorite faculty member and how did this person enrich your learning?  My favorite faculty member throughout the Business Analytics program has to be Paul Serex. As one of the professors of Creating Value Thru Business Analytics Applications, he showed us the power of Excel and taught us some incredible skills. He was also immensely helpful with questions, whether they were related to class or your own job. Even after completing his class, he was willing to help with personal analytics questions which goes above and beyond a standard professor.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s graduate Master’s program?  The best advice I can offer an applicant is to follow their interests and just go for it. Regardless of your background or current role, if you are interested in a topic, skill, or career and have the drive to learn, it is worth pursuing. 

What was your best memory from your Master’s program?  The best memory I have of the Business Analytics program was the ability to take some classes with my colleagues. I was introduced to Kelley by a colleague and subsequently encouraged another to apply to the Business Analytics program. While meeting new people can be rewarding, it was very special to share this experience with friends and to be able to lean on each other for help and support. Especially with Covid-19 impacting my final quarter, the encouragement of close friends created a re-energizing support system.


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.