It’s been a few months now since the first batch of the Great Lakes Post Graduate Programme in Business Analytics got off to a flying start. Now that a few months have passed, we thought it would be good to have a chat with some of the students and find out more about what drew them to the programme, their future plans and their reflections about the programme till date.
We sat down with a diverse set of students. Let’s meet them:
Andy Bhanot, the Regional Director – South Asia of Westat. He is a communications and marketing research expert with over 27 years of extensive experience in both the private and development sectors. Having worked in both commercial and social and development research, Andy’s expertise stretches across varied areas of market research analysis, strategy formulation, business development, leadership and team management. Andy says that he has always been the kind of person who wants to stay ahead of his curve and as such with the advent of the data boom, he though it’s about time he added analytics to his skill set. He joined the Great Lakes Programme to learn how to use analytics to make better business decisions in an environment that is increasingly becoming complex and competitive.
Clarence Wong, is a Commerce graduate from St. Xavier’s college Calcutta who has successfully made a career in data analytics. He has about eight years of experience mostly in the domain of process re-engineering using lean and Six Sigma methodologies. He has been on projects that looked at optimizing and improving business processes. A Lean Six Sigma Black belt he has expertise on other improvement methodologies like Theory of Inventive Problem Thinking (TRIZ) and Theory of Constraints. He has completed the Jigsaw Academy Data Science Certification, following which he decided to enrol in the Great Lakes Programme in order to become more business savvy in the analytics context.
Sudhanshu Pathak has about 7 ½ years of experience in consulting, ERP Advisory and Programming, with companies like KPMG and Deloitte. Much of this experience has involved SAP Implementation and Support. As Sudhanshu says, “I have pretty much covered the whole gamut of SAP in the last few years.” He believes that everybody is trying to be the early bird in the analytics game and as such it was imperative that he add analytics to his skill set. He feels that his future career growth would be fuelled if he invested in gaining some analytics skills himself. This led him to enrol in the Great Lakes PGP-BA.
Nitin Singh is a Techi with around 6 and half years of experience in the technology industry, primarily in application support & client services. He likes to travel and tries to occasionally run away from the hustle & bustle of the city to explore the calmness of nature. He started his career with Patni Computer Systems and spent about 3 years learning the nuances of Web site hosting, Service Management, Incident & Change Management. He then moved to TSYS to explore the Payment Card domain and is currently part of the global client services team which assists European banks in managing their business. He knew that analytics has great potential and wanted to learn more about some of the basics of analytics and the tools that drive analytic decisions. He thus decided to get some formal training in data analytics and enrolled in the Great Lakes PGP-BA.
All of these students firmly believe that analytics skills are a must for everyone today. No matter what sector you work in, being able to talk to data is a great advantage and will help in propelling your career forward. As Andy Bhanot rightly put it, “Data Analytics or Data Science is going to be at the core of business decision making in the years to come. No matter what the industry, no matter what your functional role, you will need analytics skills. Everyone will have to learn to use data for sound business decisions.”
Since they all believed that it was imperative that they pick up data analytics skills, it was mid last year that they began scouting around and evaluating the analytics programs offered by various institutes. “I wanted something practical, a programme that taught the analytics skills in demand while also giving me a realistic industry perspective.” says Sudhanshu Pathak. “ They were a few options like IIM Lucknow, Indian School of Business, ATI, NIIT and of course Great Lakes to consider.” he continues.
What settled the decision for these students was the fact that the Great Lakes Programme offered a Blended Learning platform, that offered flexibility and that the curriculum was very relevant to the industry. It focused not so much on theory, but more on the practical applications of analytics in a business context. It was also much more budget friendly. “The strong branding of Great Lakes was also clearly one of the biggest advantages.” says Andy. The programme also offered valuable opportunities in terms of industry interactions and for most students this translated into a unique but beneficial learning opportunity. “The flexibility to learn during class-room interactions and online through the learning management system was advantageous. However it was the industry renowned speakers who were slated to share their experiences in Data analytics and Big Data with us, that clinched my decision to go for this course.” shares Nitin Singh.
A few months into the course Andy, Sudhanshu, Clarence and Nitin seem very satisfied and say that their expectations are being met. Clarence further added, “The course has met all my expectations so far but if I had to list the top 5 advantages of the programme, they would be:
1. Industry interaction
I really appreciate these industry experts who take the time to come and share their experiences with us. It keeps us motivated and we know that what we are learning is relevant and applicable in the world today. They are willing to collaborate with us on our projects. Many of the companies that visited us are considering offering us internships. This will allow us greater flexibility with regards to the contact classes and post completion of the course, we hope that many of these companies will look at absorbing the interns.
What I like is that in every class the faculty gives us a broad outline of what is to be covered and then they ask us how we would like to reach that objective. They appreciate the fact that many of us have experience and that we are not new to the world of statistics. They let us guide them as to the breadth and depth of the subject. For those who want a slower place, the option of webinars with the faculty is always available.
The program is very responsive to our needs. All classroom sessions are recorded. They have now introduced smart boards following our feedback, which makes seeing the board with more clarity in videos.
4. Peer interactions
I think this is unparalleled. We have so many people from diverse backgrounds and different industries. In class discussions you get to listen to so many different examples and these are all eye openers.
5. Future Opportunities
We are seeing that a lot of companies are showing interest in us. This could be either companies that visit or through peer interactions. I myself have had a lot of interviews during the course and many of us have been made offers. This is really encouraging.
Infact I can share the good news that I have accepted an offer from Value Labs as Project Lead – Analytics. In my new role I will be responsible for setting up the Global Analytics Consultancy, it’s vision, strategy and coordinating the efforts of the analysts.”
The benefits of the industry interactions seemed to impact all of the others in the same way. Sudhanshu said, “The industry interactions have been particularly great and something I have truly appreciated. We have had access to some recognized guest speakers who tell us honestly what the real scenario is out there. Let me give you a few examples:
- Interaction with American express—We got a preview of the power of Analytics in the Finance sector.
- Interaction with the Snap Deal—We got to know how the E-commerce industry functions and how are they are making strategies purely based on analytics.
- Interaction with E-value Serve—This discussion gave us an insight as to what kind of skills set the industry is looking for.
- Interaction with fnMathlogic.com—We came to know about the various business problems and how can we counter them through Analytics”
Great Lakes has partnered with Jigsaw Academy, the premier online analytics training academy, to offer this programme and in a large way the online training videos created by Jigsaw have well complimented the learning experience and has become a great learning tool for the students. “The Learning Management System offers unlimited benefits, particularly the videos from Jigsaw Academy that compliments your learning during class room interactions.” says Nitin.” “For me personally, what I have enjoyed the most, is the fact that this programme inspires you to do a lot of self learning. The lectures and online videos give us the fundamental knowledge we need. After that we can go back and enhance our learning by doing more self study on topics that particularly interest us.” says Andy.
The participants of the course are looking forward to the remaining months of the course, especially the opportunity to work on some real life data sets in Jigsaw’s virtual lab, as well as the continued high impacting industry interactions. They all believe that at the end of the programme they would have picked up all the valuable analytics skills they need to make a greater foray into analytics, while also fine tuning their business skills, and empowering themselves to become better managers and leaders.
As Andy rightly sums up, “I am happy that I have chosen the right course for my professional development, and the right institute that is helping me achieve my development goals. I am proud to be a “Great Laker”.