Friday, August 26, 2016

Concentration Career Conference

On Friday, we had our Concentration Career Conference. The Concentration Career Conference is a workshop that allows MBA students to listen and to ask individuals, typically in a managerial or executive capacity, questions about the field. Each room hosted about 20-30 students and panels were at minimum 3 guests. Of the choices available, I participated in the Supply Chain Management (SCM) and Business Analytics (BA) panel. The SCM panel included managers from Amazon, Henkel, and Intel Corp while the BA panel hosted guests from Intel, Honeywell Aerospace, and GM.

Overall, I thought the event was quite informative. On one end of the spectrum, I walked away from SCM more optimistic about the concentration than I did walking in. On the other end, I left BA more confused than I was entering the room.

With SCM, my positive impression was the result of everything going well. We had a professional in charge of Supply Chain, Customer Service, and Logistics, we had a guest from Global Strategy and Analytics, and lastly we had a manager from Amazon who was in operations. Not only was their outlook on job demand optimistic but there seemed to be ample vertical movement up the corporate ladder as well as ample horizontal opportunities between functionalities. Most importantly, work-life balance didn't seem to be an issue. So lots of insight that was picked up at the panel.

With BA, all I got out of it was: gain and master as many technical skills as you can.

On the whole, yes, that makes sense. If you're applying for an analytics role, technical skills are going to be paramount, especially the ones that the role is using day-to-day.

But context matters.

Do companies expect the same set of skills from BS/MS data analytic applicants as MBA data analytic applicants?

My gut says no. I imagine the technical requirements for the two are vastly different.

But that's not the message that we heard from our panel. And so now you have to wonder, is this the inconvenient truth of a MBA concentration in business analytics for people attempting a career change? Is there a heavy expectation for you to know and master technical languages and tools? Or was this simply a matter of right message, wrong crowd?

Looking at their profiles in the pamphlet, their message, and their introductions, I'm tempted to believe the latter. I just feel the message didn't intuitively connect with me and some of my peers. But who knows, there's a reason why these successful individuals were invited to speak. Sometimes it's not about what you want to hear but about what you need to hear.

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