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Be a Know-it-All

Last fall I joined the inaugural class of the UC Davis Master of Science in Business Analytics program in San Francisco. A few days into orientation, I realized my fellow students and I were in a very well-diversified portfolio, in terms of professional background, nationality, culture, age, education and ambition. The risk of failure of the charter cohort was hedged to a minimum.

My initial reactions were ”This should be fun!” and, knowing my sarcastic self, “I hope I don’t unintentionally offend someone.”

sausage chickens by Doug Savage

After spending time with my fellow students, there was an urge within me, a curiosity. It was the mere presence of untapped and abundant knowledge floating around in the room.

Shortly into the program, I ran for a student leadership position for the Business Analytics Student Advisory Council (BASAC). While listening to how students feel, what they need and what they expect, I found that everyone in the cohort wanted to learn from one another. My first project as a member of the BASAC was to build a space for students to freely share knowledge and adapt skills from each other.The “Know-it-All” series was born.

The Know-it-All series offers us an informal setting to learn at an exponential pace and keep up with a variety of perspectives, technologies and trends.

Know-it-All is a platform in which students volunteer to lead each session. The topic, what’s shared and how it’s shared, is at the discretion of the lead. They meet with a BASAC member to review the details, get feedback and ensure the topic meets the needs of the students. Neither the faculty nor the school administration is involved. The idea is that the lead and the learners are in a no-pressure environment. They can relax and add value from
their personal experiences and learnings.

The brave soul who led our first session was Scott Virshup, a.k.a. the “viz-kid.” After amazing us with a comprehensive and aesthetic Tableau dashboard in the Bookstore Analytics Competition, Virshup gained much popularity for his skills. And the Know-it-All series was just the right place for him to share his capabilities.

Miss Know It All by Todd Goldman

Kemal Yilmaz led the second session. He’s an Excel power user and shared with us the capabilities of Excel for analysis and modelling. Most of us know the fundamental functionality of Excel, but he drew from a deep experience for his demonstration. His tips and tricks showed us how to use the software with more efficiency and speed. As students of business analytics, it was exciting and useful to learn how Excel can easily perform many of the methods we study about on smaller datasets.

Next up will be Chris Tucker, who is hosting our third session, which will be on Agile and Scrum. Chris will bring 20 years of industry experience in sharing with us some efficient processes for project management.

We are a group of 40-odd UC Davis students, about 70 miles from the main campus in the heart of the Big Data revolution in San Francisco. The Know-it-All series offers us an informal setting to learn at an exponential pace and keep up with a variety of perspectives, technologies and trends.

A special thanks to the student body and the UC Davis Graduate School of Management for making it both possible  and a success.