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MBA Careers: Demand For Data Analytics Talent Outstrips Supply

As executives warm to business analytics recruiters warn of a shortage of leadership talent needed to develop data strategies.

Mon May 11 2015

The mass adoption of big data has seen companies across sectors scramble to hire enough data scientists to glean insights and drive decision making.

That fierce demand for talent has spread to the more senior level jobs, according to Yehuda Bassok, USC Marshall School of Business professor and chair of the Department of Data Sciences and Operations.

“We’re seeing very strong demand,” he says. Consulting firms like KPMG and Deloitte in particular are vying to get access to students of USC’s MSC in Business Analytics to identify the best talent to hire, he says. “They want to recruit.”

Strategy consulting firm Accenture estimates that the US could see demand for analytics talent outstrip supply by more than 250,000 positions this year alone.

Jennifer George, director of the master’s in business analytics at Melbourne Business School, says: “There are distinct and specialized jobs available in analytics and these are quite difficult to fill because of the lack of graduates coming onto the market with those skills.”

Apart from general lack of analytics talent, there is specifically a shortage of team leaders in this area, says Arne Strauss, associate professor of operational research who teaches the MSc Business Analytics at Warwick Business School.

He says that IBM is keen to take on graduates with analytics skills, along with the likes of software firm SAP, Google and HP, the US tech conglomerate.

There is increasing demand in the public sector, and from the healthcare and retail industries for big data expertise, he adds. “Every sector is showing interest now.”

Peter Fader, who leads Wharton’s Customer Analytics Initiative, says there are enough people with C-level ambitions to match with big companies - which are slowly starting to believe the path to the C-suite will include having analytics training. “We’re training business leaders,” he adds.

The use of big data is increasingly necessary for firms to be competitive, says Dustin Pusch, director of decision sciences and business analytics at George Washington University’s business school.

He highlights the retail and finance industries, and operations and logistics areas, as being ahead of the big data curve.

Companies are trying to fill the skills gap by offering training.

DeGroote School of Business in North America recently launched an EMBA degree focused on big data with IBM and CIBC, Canada’s fifth largest chartered bank by deposits.

KPMG will invest £20 million in a data analytics research centre at Imperial College Business School in London – which Mazhar Hussain, a director at KPMG Digital, told BusinessBecause would provide strategic access to talent.

IBM and Telfer School of Management have invested around $5 million into a similar centre at Telfer.

MBAs do not need to have in-depth technical skills, says Arne at Warwick, but they need to have a basic understanding of analytics to be able to glean insights from data.

Professor Kalyan Talluri, director of the MSc in Business Analytics at Imperial College, says: “MBAs should think more in terms of evidence-based or data-based decision skills, rather than relying entirely on intuition and gut-feeling.” 

Student Reviews

Imperial College Business School




On Campus

Innovative, Immersive and an Excellent Curriculum

The MSc Strategic Marketing course opens many avenues into the business world at Imperial. The coursework consists of group-based assignments, individual reports, and sometimes, examinations. The Careers team helps you with your CV, Cover letters, and other job application support. Imperial truly lives up to its name!




Very applicable courses

I enjoyed studying here for my master degree as I could feel that I was surrounded by very clever people, and I did learn a lot of knowledge that I could directly put into use into my current internship




Diversity and Professional Development

Imperial College London is an innovation hub with expertise across multiple industries. The international student body exposes students to endless cultures and experiences. Furthermore, the Careers team at Imperial is second to none as directors help guide students to the career paths of their dreams.




Business School

Imperial college business school has amazing facilities, amazing staff. I particularly like the business school cafe although it would be nice if they added a few more power sockets in the open space and heating for winter. The course is really good too. Very interactive classes and highly diverse environment.




Career Services

Very strong university with good quality faculty and a very strong career services team that prepared students well for the jobs market. Very nice facilities in the city center. Good sessions organised with employers.




Chinese students majored in English- now strategic marketing

My undergraduate major was English back in China and now an MSc student in strategic marketing at Imperial. For Chinese students who share similar experiences with me, you can get as much/deep as you want about marketing with some challenging group works and inspiring lectures. At the same time, if you just want to get the degree anyway with less effort, it's possible as well... ...