“It’s the sexiest job of the 21st century!” says Beatrice Murage, a full-time MBA student at IE Business School with a passion for big data.
Beatrice – who’s studying a dual degree with an MBA and a Master in Business Analytics and Big Data from IE’s School of Human Science and Technology – became president of IE’s Big Data Club earlier this year.
Since then, IE’s Big Data Club has been one of the most active clubs in the school. The club hosts and organizes industry events, bringing in high-profile speakers and connecting with corporates on topics like the big data skills gap and women in tech. Beatrice's team has managed to rapidly increase the club’s membership to over 600 members.
A medical doctor and project management pro, Beatrice worked at a health informatics company in Nairobi before relocating from her native Kenya to Madrid in Spain for her MBA.
Over 100 students from all over Africa enroll at IE Business School every year. IE has strong ties to Africa – the school is active in over 10 African countries, 20 cities, and has regional offices in Lagos and Johannesburg. Each year, IE hosts over 60 Africa-based, Africa-focused events.
For Beatrice, ‘giving back’ is part of being African. She served on the board for Young Women Social Entrepreneurs, helping entrepreneurs in Kenya iron out their business plans and get connected to local investors.
Alongside her MBA studies, she’s working part-time advising an agri-tech startup focused on plant viral indexing in East and Central Africa.
What can you tell us about your role as president of the big data club at IE?
Big data is still a mystery for many people. There’s a huge skills gap in the area, especially in Africa. I want to create more awareness, within and outside IE, about how data science is driving business.
The best part of the big data club for me has been the opportunity to collaborate with different areas of industry – leading venture capitalists, people from the hotel industry – to share how data drives business.
We’ve been able to build a community around big data at IE. In terms of increasing awareness, we’ve achieved a lot – every day we have someone new joining the club!
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at IE?
It was mostly because of the entrepreneurship focus. Being able to design your own experience at the school was another big attraction point for me. In Europe, IE was my only choice.
The US was an option, but I wanted a program that would allow me to do my dual degree in good time at one school. In the US, the process would have taken up to three years. I didn’t want to be out of the job market for such a long time.
Still, I wanted a full-time program because I wanted to be able to meet people. The IE MBA is over 90% international. Being in a place where you can meet so many business leaders from so many countries was a big factor in choosing the program.
Why the Master in Business Analytics and Big Data?
I’m really passionate about digital transformation. Today, the dynamics of business strategy, development; everything is digital. I come from Kenya – the land of M-Pesa – so I’ve seen what mobile money has done for my people. That’s happening in healthcare as well; changing how people access healthcare through digital platforms.
People are becoming more aware that you need concrete data skills no matter what industry you’re in. For me, it was a no brainer to take the MBA and the big data program together. It’s a lot of work; it’s crazy intense! But I think it’s worth it.
What else stands out from your MBA experience?
My colleague and I ran for the venture lab at IE. We were working on a ‘knowledge market’ – a project connecting mentors and mentees. It was really interesting just to build something up from the ground, get selected as a finalist, and pitch to real investors. We got some interesting feedback, and we’re trying to see if we can develop the idea at the school.
What advice do you have for prospective MBAs?
Know what you want from the experience. Know that what business school will give you is a platform, and you jump as far and as high as you want to based on that platform.
The way business school has maybe been advertised before – that you go to certain business schools and that will get you a job – it doesn’t necessarily work that way. Be open to change. Find a way to use business school as a way to grow your career and your network. No matter what career choice you make, it’s the people that matter at the end of the day.