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Master’s in Business Analytics: Tanmayee Waghmare, University of Minnesota (Carlson)

Student Name: Tanmayee Waghmare

Graduate Business School:  University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management

Describe Yourself In 15 Words: Passionate about bridging the gap between data and action. Impactful storyteller with unwavering customer focus. 

Master’s Graduation Class: 2019.

Undergraduate School and Major: Mumbai University, Accounting and Auditing.

Current Employer and Job Title: Capital One, Senior Data Analyst.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Early in my career, while working at a boutique investment banking firm as a financial analyst, I was promoted for being the most innovative and out-of-the-box thinker. My firm at the time was invested in expanding our client network to bring in more business. Although increasing business engagement was primarily a responsibility of the partners, my firm believed in empowering employees at all levels. At the time, the use of LinkedIn for business was very limited in India. My curiosity has always led me to try new technology products, so I was bullish on using Linkedin to generate new prospects. I extensively used the platform to connect with several small businesses and listened to their financial needs. In this process, I was able to connect a potential client with one of our partners which resulted in an asset-backed lending deal worth $10 million. This was a very critical deal in my firm’s portfolio at the time because the client was a very popular brand and to help them in their financial journey meant huge success for us! 

Describe your biggest accomplishment as a graduate student: Given my non-programming background, my graduate program proved to be a very intense and challenging experience in my life. The first month of grad school I took a Python class. I remember I was so terrible at it! It was especially intimidating to see my classmates easily breeze through the coursework. I had moments where I doubted myself. But then I rose up to the challenge. My biggest strength is my fierce determination. I was willing to do whatever it took to learn how to code. For the first four months into the program, I started coding every day for five hours. Discussions with my professors and peers supplemented my study. 

Slowly, the results started showing. I began to gain the confidence to solve Kaggle challenges and wrote on Medium about them. This gave me great visibility in online data science communities. On my graduation day, when I walked the stage, I had come a long way! Oscillating between self-doubt and self-assurance, holding my graduation diploma on May 20, 2019, in Mariucci Arena was such an incredibly rewarding experience. 

My biggest accomplishment came when I landed a job offer; the Github projects and Medium articles paid off and caught the eye of a recruiter! My exciting journey had just begun.

What was the key factor that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? The Carlson School’s MSBA program is a highly coveted analytics program in the U.S., so it was already high up on my list during the application season. After connecting with alumni from different programs, Carlson became my first choice. The industry-oriented, practical curriculum coupled with the very strong reputation among the top analytics recruiters were the biggest selling points for me. Other factors that I weighed in were the close-knit alumni network and a robust presence as a business school across the United States.

What led you to choose a Master’s in Business Analytics over an MBA? For my master’s program, I was looking to gain specialized exposure to technical topics such as programming, statistics, machine learning, and concepts in data science. I was looking to complement my previous background in finance and accounting with an analytics skill set. So at the time, an MBA did not seem to fulfill my career needs. In hindsight, I’m very glad to have taken this step for my career as Carlson’s MSBA not only gave me the skills I was looking for but also provided a great blend of business, project management, and communication courses.

What has been your favorite course and how has it helped you in your career? It’s difficult to choose only one favorite course! If I do have to choose only one course, then I think Exploratory Data Analytics was a very valuable course. It helped me to appreciate the importance of good storytelling to back up a solid data analysis. Numbers in data are merely numbers until they are translated into meaningful and actionable insights. This learning has enhanced my understanding of what analytics really means in practical business settings. As a Data Analyst at Capital One, I have worked on several projects involving creating insightful storyboards and interesting narratives to guide the leadership through the results of my data analysis.

What role did your school play in helping you to land your first job out of the program? The Carlson School’s Graduate Business Career Centre (GBCC) played a huge role in helping me land my first job out of the program at Capital One. The career counselors at the GBCC are an awesome team to work with. They helped me finetune my resume, conducted mock interviews, taught me effective networking strategies, and helped me connect with potential employers at top tech companies during the job treks on the West Coast. GBCC also arranged visits to local companies in the Twin Cities area which helped me understand the expectations of the employers and discern the specific skill sets in demand. 

How did your classmates enhance the value of your business school experience? My classmates in the program came from diverse backgrounds, and some of them even had many years of professional experience in the field of analytics. This enriched the quality of classroom discussions and I found myself learning and discovering new concepts in analytics every day. My classmates helped me keep my sanity through the rigorous courses on programming and predictive analytics. The diverse mix in the class was extremely valuable during group assignments where I got opportunities to closely work and collaborate with my peers. I ended up learning a lot about communication, problem-solving, time management, and conflict resolution through educational experiences. 

Who was your favorite faculty member and how did this person enrich your learning? My favorite faculty member was Ken Reily who taught us the Programming for Data Science course in the summer semester and another course on Databases in the fall semester. Ken always brought stories from his corporate career to help us understand the significance of any concept. This greatly helped me to understand the practical difficulties of managing messy data in the real corporate world. His stories also made for lively class discussions which I looked forward to. Ken made the coursework rich and replete with practical problems that I enjoyed solving and learning from. The lessons I learned in his Python and SQL classes are the ones that I apply today as a Data Analyst at Capital One. 

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s graduate Master’s program? Always keep an open mind to learning as you may never know where the next golden nugget of wisdom will come from. Given the rigorous nature of the program, be prepared to work hard and get comfortable being uncomfortable. Try to make the most of every opportunity that comes your way, whether it’s team projects, public speaking, volunteering, networking, or job fairs. Also, make sure you manage your time well by prioritizing your to-do’s. Lastly, don’t forget to have fun and forge long-lasting friendships!

What was your best memory from your Master’s program? My best memory is from the time I visited the Minnesota State Fair in the summer with my classmates. I had a great time enjoying classic fair food such as cheese curds, Sweet Martha’s cookies, and deep-fried pickles. I also let my adventurous side out by going on several amusement rides that I’m usually very scared of!

DON’T MISS: MEET THE MASTERS OF BUSINESS ANALYTICS