Walking Right Back into the World of Predictive Analysis

Executive Insights in Business Analytics Immersion

I thought I had left data science behind when I left experimental nuclear physics for my chosen career in medical physics.

When I took the next step of enrolling in the UC Davis Part-Time MBA program, I expected to move further away from my data science days. It turns out I walked right back into the world of predictive analytics, only into a much, much more exciting version: the Business Analytics Immersion class with lecturer Mehul Rangwala.

When I started the Sacramento MBA program, I thought I would focus on finance because I've had a life-long interest. I was probably the only kid in elementary school who had clipped coupons from Treasury bonds stored in the vault of the bank where my mother worked. This also made for a good story to share with my classmates.

I learned in the first week how useful the sport of cricket is to explain the difference between supervised and unsupervised machine learning. 

Cricket Explains Machine Learning

Naturally, I dove right into the statistics classes offered in the Sacramento MBA program, including an advanced elective taught by Mehul Rangwala. He rightly earned the Graduate School of Management’s Teacher of the Year award last year—he was one of the best teachers I have met in my scientific career.

Rangwala explains complex concepts in a practical, clear way. So when it was announced that he would teach the new Business Analytics Immersion elective, of course, I signed up. I looked forward to an all-star lineup of executives who would share their expertise and experiences.

From Rangwala’s experience, I learned in the first week how useful the sport of cricket is to explain the difference between supervised and unsupervised machine learning. From there, he led our exploration in the roles of various team members in a business analytics group. Mind blown. No one in my 20-year career in STEM had explained to me how to do this well. By the time class finished on Saturday afternoon, I had developed ideas how to improve the structure of my new data science team I was developing at work.

Big Data Science Innovation

The second class session delivered even more insights. I work as a medical physicist now and have expertise in healthcare innovation from a provider perspective. UC Davis MBA alumnus Sharad Gupta,, now director of health innovation product strategy at Blue Shield of California, explained how business analytics, machine learning and big data science are used in the insurance industry to increase quality of care while lowering healthcare costs.

The next class turned into a significant challenge. Darin LaFramboise from Atlassian and Lulu Lin from Stellar Labs introduced us to the use of business analytics for ecosystem and marketplace platforms. As we worked on our cases, I was glad my team had three members from Intel who were much more familiar with that industry. I also appreciated what a challenge the previous class must have been for my classmates who had not worked in healthcare.

World-class teachers and classmates

I realized this course provides a great inside on the many things I found rewarding in my UC Davis MBA journey.

I have gained deeper understanding of business topics I was interested in before and gained new perspectives. There were times when classes challenged me to stretch my knowledge and learn in new ways. And my classmates have always been there to support me. Talented, highly motivated people from very diverse industries, career stages and backgrounds who I would have never met otherwise.

Expert teachers including Donald Palmer (Power & Influence, Organizational Wrongdoing), Jim Olson (Teams & Technology, Negotiations), Gina Dokko (Strategy) and Doy Charnsupharindr (Storytelling for Leadership) motivated me to explore the “soft side” of business.

When I started the program, I was not quite sure what to expect and how I might use such skills in the future. I found I use them every day at work. And now I need to conclude because I need to go practice my turns. Not on the ski slope, but to counter moves in negotiations!

Ask me all about it some time, or come visit a class at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management.