In between degrees, he worked for a wholesale company, working his way up from the management rotation program to commodities buyer. It was in this role where the seed was planted for his future endeavours in big data analytics.
“If I wanted to get out of this sales role, I needed to have some more hard skills, quantitative skills related to business,” he asserts.
At the time, he says big data analytics was the hot topic, and was becoming more and more popular for businesses intent on growing and thriving in a digitized environment.
After looking around, he landed on the MBA at the Smith School. He combined it with work and entered a new role—purchasing and strategy analyst—that was created just for him.
He stayed for around a year, before leaving to become a sales and marketing analyst at Baltimore Aircoil Company—he’s now the firm’s senior marketing analyst.
The place to be for big data analytics
John (pictured) explains that he was in no doubt that the Smith School was the right choice—a good reputation, in the state he was based, with “fantastic facilities”.
“They also had a lot more analytics coursework compared to other programs. It seemed like it had the best community for somebody looking in that field.”
Indeed, once on the program, John says the wealth of electives around data analytics was a huge benefactor when it came to focusing his career in that field; courses available include Big Data, Decision Analytics, and Data Mining & Predictive Analytics.
So, how did the Smith School MBA help John after he graduated?
“What helped me at Maryland was the strategy. How to think about data, how to think about what it is I’m trying to do.
“I use it every single day. It gave me a good framework for not just producing reports or generating data for data’s sake, but to prove a hypothesis and bring value to an organization.”
Today, John thinks that understanding is becoming more important every day. When he started at Baltimore Aircoil Company, he says that a lot of decisions were based on personal opinions about the direction in which the company should go.
Bringing in data analytics has eradicated the guesswork from the equation and meant decisions can be made based on facts. “That’s going to be more and more valuable,” John asserts.
As the world becomes more digitized, and we move further and further into the internet of things (IoT) and big data, the amount of data available to us will be astronomical.
John says that value is intrinsic to the data available, but if you don’t understand how to interpret it correctly then not only will it be potentially worthless to a company but making the wrong decisions could inflict damage.
Find the right tools
What’s the biggest challenge when working with big data analytics?
“You need to have the right tools, so determining the right tools and understanding what it is you’re trying to accomplish is key.
“Also having the right strategy when working with your data and understanding how to glean meaningful insights out of it.”
John predicts that analytics and business will form an ever-closer union and the sphere is only going to grow.
“We’re seeing a wave of smart products,” he says. “Everyone now has connected smart products, and the next wave will drive analytics further and further.
Where the first wave focused on customers—think the iPhone, and Amazon’s Alexa as examples—John thinks the next wave will be the digital transformation of the manufacturing space.
“B2B companies are becoming more involved with the IoT, and realizing how much data is out there once they realize how to unlock the value in it is going to be very useful for them,” he says.
He adds that anyone interested in augmenting their understanding of Analytics should look no further than the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.
“There’s a lot of very talented faculty there, opportunities to learn, and where you’re positions in the Baltimore/Washington area there are a lot of opportunities for internships and positions when you finish.
“With data analytics, the most important thing is you want to commit yourself to being a lifetime learner of it, because it’s very much tied into the speed of growth of technology.