4 Questions with MSBA Alum Dane Hamlett

We ask MSBA alumnus Dane Hamlett about work, school, tips for students and more.

"Storytelling is the most important skill."

I recently caught up with Dane Hamlett, a Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) alumnus of the charter class in 2018 and a senior business analytics leader at Adobe.

His transition from a full-time professional to a part-time student and back to a full-time professional traversed an exciting journey. I had the pleasure of hosting him back at our San Francisco campus to recall his time as a student and share his experience and advice with future alumni.

Dane Hamlett

1. How was your experience studying at UC Davis MSBA?

I already had previous work experience in analytics and had learned a great deal from hands-on corporate projects. More than the technical skills, I gained much value from the business courses. It was especially interesting to learn about the different perspectives and new strategies that can be applied in the workforce.

It is one thing to have an idea, but quite another to actually execute it. Getting work done is not as easy as creating a new idea. You have to collaborate with the team to execute the vision and that’s arguably the hardest part.

Adobe has thousands of employees in multiple locations. So learning the management and business courses was helpful to understand the best way to get work done across an organization.

2. What was your practicum experience like?

The year-long practicum experience was very rewarding. I learned a great deal from my teammates and I hope they learned much from my style of working as well. The practicum was a wonderful experience coupled with the theoretical knowledge we gained in class. The best part was that the theory from class could be directly applied to both the practicum and my work at Adobe.

3. What was your key takeaway from the practicum?

Setting the right expectations for our clients. For our practicum project, we had multiple stakeholders and it was very easy for all of them to be aligned differently. Managing and setting the right expectations with respect to the end goal and the deliverables was very important.

4. What recommendation would you give to freshers or other analytics professionals?

On the technical front, SQL (Structured Query Language) is the backbone for any analytical work and being fluent at data manipulation is expected from all analytics professionals. Excel is another tool which is highly underrated. A lot of times you have to source your own data and knowing Excel and SQL is a required skill for work to be done quickly and effectively. On the programming front, knowing Python and being conversant with the basic packages such as NumPy and pandas is also very important.

That being said, all of these skills make sense only if you know how to present them effectively.

Storytelling is the most important skill.

You can come up with the most complex models and accurate predictions, but if you are not able to present them in an effective manner, you cannot have an impact on decision making. Companies are looking for talent who can do analyses, understand the business and communicate insights concisely and correctly. Effective communication is essential. I’d recommend to focus on both your hard skills and also pay equal attention to your communication skills. Firms are looking for professionals who can package their analysis in a simple story format.