networking on phones

Speed Networking: Tips from Industry Professionals
MSBA events with alumni offer big opportunities to connect

One of the great things about being in the UC Davis Master of Science in Business Analytics program is the opportunity to tap into and learn from a diverse alumni base.

By meeting graduates at leading companies, such as Facebook, Macy’s, YouTube, Amazon and VISA, we’re able to stay connected to the latest industry trends in data-driven decision making.

Speaker Overview Slide

A recent MSBA speed networking event at Twitter headquarters in San Francisco featured representatives from 11 companies.

The speakers were from diverse backgrounds, and they shared a distinctive combination of seasoned and fresh-out-of-college advice. After brief introductions, speakers fanned out to tables to speak with five or six students. The alumni shared about using analytics in industries, how to land a job after graduation, interview tips, and specifics about their MSBA program experience.


Ten of the 11 guest speakers were UC Davis MBA and MSBA alumni.

  • Yuani Chan MSBA 19 – Lead Analyst, Adara Inc.
  • Sharad Jain MSBA 18 – Data Operations Analyst, Facebook
  • Cara Khan MSBA 19 – Data Analytics Associate, ZS
  • Raymond Leung MBA 16 – Senior Business Analytics Manager, ZEISS Microscopy
  • Smita Madam MBA 18 – Manager for Product Management, Capital One
  • Sheel Vora MSBA 19 – Finance Analyst, Hilti North America
  • Jing Jing MSBA 19 – Operations Insights Analys, YouTube
  • Shruti Saxena MSBA 18 – Data Scientist, Qventus Inc.
  • Sonic Prabhudesai MSBA 18 – Manager, Strategy Analytics, Retail Strategy, Charles Schwab
  • Liz Liu MSBA 19 – Product Analyst, Macy’s

The final speaker, Steve Maier, a staff analyst at SunRun Inc., has a close relationship with the MSBA program. SunRun has sponsored the MSBA program’s Data Hack event each year.

I had the opportunity to speak with six alums during the speed networking event.

Here are my takeaways:


Cara Khan of ZS emphasized the importance of networking with people from your industry. She began her job search by connecting with a good friend with intimate knowledge of the work culture at ZS. She knew she wanted to find a company that aligned with her values. She told students to look beyond specific industries and job titles for the right fit.

Sheel Vora of Hilti North America and Jing Jing of YouTube reassured students about the strength of the business analytics job market.  Vora added that working with Hilti North America as the client for his team’s practicum project helped him land his position with the global technology leader.

Networking doesn’t stop once you get the job either.

Smita Madam of Capital One shared a fresh perspective on cross-functional teams within an organization and why it pays off to build trust on your team. She shared tips to help new employees share project ideas and encouraged us to speak up if we have an idea that could benefit the company. If you network with your coworkers early in your career, they can provide insights into the best way to share your ideas.


Speed Networking event selfie

Sharad Jain of Facebook shared how important it is to develop an authentic personal narrative that shows recruiters and hiring managers how passionate you are about analytics. It can also be a helpful starting point for your employment pitch and why you’re the right person for the job.

MBA alumnus Raymond Leung of Zeiss Microscopy began as an undergraduate and grad school student in civil engineering, but switched to analytics. He shared his journey and noted that students should be open to changes in the industry and to embrace the challenges that come with that. Leung also noted that, as analysts, we should always aim to improve and automate processes. Doing so adds value to the company.

“The MSBA program has a lot of wonderful students and the greatest impact they can make for the industry is to look for a company where there is a gap in analytics competency for them to fill. I was encouraging them to not necessarily look for your typical big data companies, but to look for companies that are weak in data. That’s how we can maximize our impact.”

 – Raymond Leung MBA 16


Alumni group photo

After the speed networking table sessions, the speakers stayed after to answer more questions from students. It was great to see that alumni wanted to meet and lend their expertise to a new crop of analysts.

“The speakers were from various backgrounds, so you can find at least one speaker to whom you could relate to,” said Tejasvini Karunakarbabu MSBA 20. “That made it relevant and very helpful.”

While there are many other factors to consider when approaching the job market, your ability to build an effective network is essential to help you make key connections along your career path.