Before his MBA, Winston worked in data analytics at discount retailer Target Canada. But after the company went under in January 2015, he decided to take the leap and start his own business.
Winston relocated from Canada to pursue an MBA at EDHEC, which recently introduced new cutting-edge courses in big data and artificial intelligence. He helped to launch the school’s first data analytics club. He sees big data transforming the business landscape in the coming years.
How did the idea to start your own data analytics consultancy come about?
I know firsthand that many organizations don’t have the people, the tools, or the resources, to tap into their own data. Just before my MBA, I worked with a large player in the health and fitness field. My role with them was coming to a close but I didn’t feel that I was finished. I felt like I could still assist the organization.
I knew that I had a strong suit in analytics and strategy. So I said: ‘If this is something I want to do in the long run, why don’t I start now?’ I went ahead, registered my business, and pitched to my former employer. I told them what I could do for them while I’m still abroad, and secured my first client!
Where are you at right now? What do you hope to achieve?
Right now, the business is only in its infancy. I’m using my time at EDHEC to bolster my credentials within data analytics, build a business plan, work and partner with like-minded individuals, and see what traction I can get.
I would love to continue to develop this plan further; to work with the partners here at school, to get a small roster of potential future clients, and bring it over to the European market. The long-term aim is to work with SMEs around the globe and become the go-to resource when it comes to data analytics strategy.
How have you been supported by the EDHEC MBA?
There’s a lot going on at EDHEC for an entrepreneur. We have the entrepreneurship club, the consulting club, and the data analytics club that I started up myself. Through those, we’ve had the opportunity to speak with alumni entrepreneurs, and we’ve had consultants come in and guide us through the process of setting up a business.
We also have a startup incubator. I’ve set up a meeting with the director in the new year where I can present my business plan and he can walk me through how I could enter the market here.
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at EDHEC?
The first thing is value for money. Spending two years studying an MBA and forgoing your salary is a big thing for me. EDHEC’s intense, 10-month program stood out.
It’s also a truly international MBA, where you have 39 different nationalities in the class. The quality of the international trips on offer is fantastic. The first trip to South Africa has set the bar.
Knowing EDHEC was entrepreneurial, and offered courses on data analytics and a new course on artificial intelligence, was the cherry on top for me when it came to picking a school.
What should applicants think about when deciding to do an MBA?
First and foremost, you need to understand who you are as a person and how you want to grow.
If you don’t understand where you want to go in your career, in life, and geographically, then you shouldn’t be looking to do an MBA. Once you do, everything else becomes bright as day. What type of course you want to take, where you want to take it, what professors you want to learn from; that all becomes easy.
How will big data transform the business landscape in the coming years?
Right now, big data is in the hands of really large organizations - the Amazons, Googles, Facebooks of the world - who have the right people in the right place at the right time to leverage it. They’re gobbling up all the talent out there.
When big data is really going to revolutionize the world is when it goes from the large organizations to the really small. Ultimately, big data is a tool to grow businesses. You’re able to devise strategies and produce insights at a much quicker rate than just going off of gut instinct.
If you don’t have data analytics skill-sets and data scientists in your team, you don’t have that competitive advantage. Businesses that don’t leverage big data will never reach the size of organizations that do.