Since we recorded this interview, the Wall Street Journal published a short article discussing the strong demand for tech skills around the world. Apparently the area with the greatest gap between supply and demand is Big data/analytics, where 39% of IT leaders feel there is a shortage of people skilled in this area, the highest of any tech field in the survey.
The shortage makes this podcast interview particularly timely because you’ll hear from Dr. Dimitris Bertsimas, Co-Director of MIT Sloan’s Master in Business Analytics, and we discuss this brand new program in depth.
Meet Professor Dimitris Bertsimas. After earning his Master’s in Operations Research and PhD in Applied Mathematics/Operations Research at MIT, he joined the MIT faculty, where he is Professor of Operations Research, the co-Director of the Operations Research Center, and now the co-Director of the brand new Master’s in Business Analytics program. Welcome!
What is MIT Sloan’s Master’s in Business Analytics? [1:25]
It’s a 1-year program. Students take two semesters of courses and labs and then do a 3-month internship, implementing solutions with a company.
How did MIT’s MBAn come into being? [2:10]
It’s been developing over the last few years The need for analytics has grown. Sloan is in a strong position to provide this program – given the strength of its faculty in this area, it can attract superb students and be the premier business analytics program in the world.
And the demand is definitely there: last year I taught a MOOC to over 100K students.
What are the labs? [4:00]
There are several unique elements. Students learn software for analytics. There are also several modules – optimization, visualization, etc. And they learn leadership, teamwork, communication skills, etc. It’s not just traditional teaching: there’s a strong focus on hands-on learning and real world context.
The internships [6:03]
There will be multiple opportunities available for internships. Some internships might eventually and naturally translate into job opportunities.
The program is aimed primarily at recent college grads. For this group of applicants, what is MIT looking for in an applicant to the MBAn? [7:00]
Exceptional academic ability and the aspiration to apply their skills in the real world.
For career changers who have some work experience, what are they looking for? [8:22]
A strong background in science, engineering, or math: breadth and depth in their area of expertise.
What is required in the application? [8:50]
GMAT/GRE, grades, projects/papers, letters of rec. There’s also a personal statement and an interview.
What is MBA hoping to glean from the interview? [9:30]
We’re looking for exceptional people. We want grads to be leaders in analytical efforts in their organizations. So during the admissions process, we’re trying to select people who have the ability and aspiration to advance. We’re looking for leadership qualities.
For potential applicants who are considering MBA, MS Stats, MS Operations Research, or the Masters of Business Analytics: what makes the MBAn stand out? [10:45]
The internship component is unique. Also, the focus on lab courses and experiential learning is a unique focus.
As technology/data is constantly changing, the curriculum will evolve and adapt to match.
In addition, it’s just a different type of degree. The MBAn is a terminal degree: we expect students to go straight on to their careers afterwards. (Whereas many students who complete a master’s in statistics go on to study for a PhD.) The MBA is a more general degree, while the MBAn is very tightly focused on analytics. It’s a deep dive.
Any plans for a joint MBA/MBAn? [14:10]
Not at the moment.
MIT plans to reach a 60-member cohort. [14:40]
The entering class this fall will have around 20 people, and they anticipate increasing the size each of the following two years to reach an eventual class size of around 60.
Planned process for 2017 entering class [16:10]
We plan to admit roughly 40 students. The admissions process will be the same as this year: a personal statement, letters of rec, grades, test scores, interview.
The application will open in September and close January 4. [17:10]
What kind of careers can people expect after earning this degree? [17:40]
Analytics is increasingly important across industries. Grads will work in consulting, financial services, internet companies, healthcare, marketing, sports, etc. We expect a lot of competition for our graduates.
His advice for people interested in Business Analytics [19:25]
He recommends that people considering this path do an internship and take a course during undergrad to see if they enjoy working with data and analytic methods.
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