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MSBA - Master of Science in Business Analytics | Admissions

MSBA Student Profiles

Alex Jones

Undergraduate Major: Communication Studies/ Business Foundations

Graduation Year: 2013

Past work experience: Internships- National Instruments and Cameron, Board of Directors- University COOP 

Why did you choose the MSIROM program?

There's something incredibly exciting about being pioneers and going into a field that isn't well established. The work being done in this field is incredible and I am looking forward to being a part of a revolutionary change in business. 

What is your favorite MSIROM event?

The receptions with companies have been immensely valuable, both as a way to speak with companies and get a real world perspective. Of course, the recruiting aspect is quite nice too. 

What kind of impact has the MSIROM faculty had on your experience?

I have been so incredibly impressed with the faculty. Literally, UT has assembled professors from all over the University and every one of them is renowned in their field. That deep level of expertise has been an incredible resource and these professors have been able to distill profoundly complex subjects into comprehensible and actionable insights. 

What is the best place to look for information on business analytics? Best blogs?

I've been keeping up with Nate Silver's blog and am excited about his new website. Also, KDNuggets and Kaggle are great places to keep up. There are some linkedin groups also-- but like most community forums, it takes a little while to realize who the users are that are insightful. Also, has some incredible stuff. 

Devika Vakil

Devika Vakil

Undergraduate Major:Bachelor of Engineering - Computer Science

Graduation Year: 2013 

Why did you choose the MSIROM program?

The MSBA program offers a good amalgamation of technical skills needed to understand various tools and application skills to drive insights from the data and use the information within the business context. The MSBA program is a technical (STEM) program but, since it is offered in the business school, it enables us to think about data solutions within the context of business. 

What do you like the most so far about your MSBA experience?

The diversity! Our program had people from different countries and people with different academic backgrounds – from a dramatics play writer and marketing majors to math teachers and engineers. It was fun to hear different perspectives while working on projects. Also, I believe we had some of the best professors and they were major contributors in making our journey enjoyable. 

What advice to you have for current students? For prospective students?
Data analytics is an emerging, dynamic field. Therefore, the industry requires an entry level person to have as much hands on practice as is possible. It is wise to invest in some key skills like learning to use visualization techniques to convey your results. A pretty plot speaks a lot more than mere numbers! 

It is important to keep in mind that it is easy to get lost in the mathematical and technical details of a model. Sure, knowing the sophisticated techniques is important, but you must also keep your audience in mind and be able to clearly explain your models. In almost every analytics project, 90% of the time is spent consolidating data from different sources and formatting the data in a form which fits the business problem you are trying to solve. Therefore, it's good to get some hands on in Basic Excel and SQL.

What is your favorite MSBA event?
We had quite a few fun events, but the Christmas Party was one of the best! 

Haotian Zhao

Undergraduate Major: Applied Math & Economics          

Graduation Year: 2012

Past work experience: iHealth, Google

Why did you choose the MSIROM program?

I looked up the curriculum and almost all the classes looked very interesting to me. For a MS program, this one is not too long, not too short, and we can finish 36 credits in 12 months, it sounds appealing. And I have never been to Texas before, why not give it a try.

What do you like the most so far about your MSIROM experience?

Taking classes as a group with the other 51 students is the first “class” experience I’ve ever had since college. It feels like a big Business Analytics family, and never felt left out. Because we have the same the class schedule, it’s easy to coordinate team projects.

What is your favorite Austin restaurant?

Hopdoddy is the best burger I’ve ever had in my life, very fresh and juicy.

What is the best thing about living in Austin? Favorite place/thing to do?

I like a city with river flowing through. I remember once I was walking on Congress Avenue Bridge, many people were waiting to see the bats.  But the sunset on the river, the bridge itself and downtown view from the bridge is already very breathtaking for me.

Hunter Wilcox

Undergraduate Major: Marketing

Graduation Year: 2012

Past work experience: Internships with Adometry and Spredfast.

What do you like the most so far about your MSIROM experience?

I like the versatility of what we’re learning.  I’m constantly reminded of real world applications for subjects we cover in class.  Every industry needs analytics in some capacity.  When the workload begins to pile up, it’s a nice reminder that what we’re doing is worthwhile.

What advice to you have for current students? For prospective students?

Know exactly what you want to get out of the degree from the get-go and constantly remind yourself of that vision.  Having a plan and an idea for where you’re going will allow you to put everything you’re learning into context.

What is your favorite business analytics joke?

How many business analysts does it take to change a light bulb?

Five. One to change the bulb and four to tell him how much better they could have done it.

What is your favorite spot on campus?

In my seat at Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium for a UT football game.

Sarah Snelling

Undergraduate Major: Accounting/Business Honors

Graduation Year:  2013

Past work experience: Internships with ConocoPhillips and Ernst & Young

What do you like the most so far about your MSIROM experience?

I love that everyone comes from such different backgrounds - we have people who have studied everything from film and journalism to engineering and computer science. Throughout our diverse experiences, everyone has developed really different skill sets, but we are all striving toward the same goal. We have had the opportunity to come together and use our differing strengths to help one another. I've learned so much from not only our professors, but from the wonderfully diverse and intelligent people I am surrounded by!

What skill has the MSIROM program taught you that you find most valuable?

The skill I’m most thankful I've learned in the Business Analytics program is to take a problem, break it down, and approach it logically step by step – whether you’re thinking through a business case or writing a program, the fundamental thought process is the same and learning that process is invaluable!

 What kind of impact has the faculty had on your experience?

The faculty has had a huge impact on my experience in MSIROM.   Because I came from a purely business background, there were certain aspects of the program (like coding) that were entirely new to me - and almost everyone felt that way regarding one aspect of the curriculum or another.  Our professors were aware that all of our starting points were different, and they did an excellent job of catering to our diverse needs - providing extra help or an extra challenge in the appropriate places.  Overall, they were so passionate about making sure we all understood and enjoyed what they were teaching us that it motivated me to overcome challenges in the areas where I felt the weakest – I am so thankful for that!

What is the best thing about living in Austin? Favorite place/thing to do?

The best thing about living in Austin is how easy it is to get outside. There are so many great places to hike, run, swim, kayak – do whatever you want!  But my favorite place in Austin in probably the roof of Whole Foods downtown – I do just about everything I can up there!

Souradeep Sen

Undergraduate Major: Bachelor of Engineering in Information Technology

Graduation Year: 2013

Past work experience: Levigran Business Efficiency Solutions

Why did you choose the MSIROM: Business Analytics program?

The work I did at my firm, my academic interests as a computer science graduate and career goals in the analytics space were directly aligned with the courses in this program.

What is your favorite MSIROM event?

I felt all the industry events were extremely beneficial and projected all that is good about our program. Although the IBM case competition doesn't strictly fall into the category of an MSIROM event, I found the opportunity to learn and work with the Watson team extremely exciting.

What skill has the MSIROM program taught you that you find most valuable?

Interpreting results, devising actionables from them and communicating the value of the actionables to decision makers. 

What is the best part about going to UT? About being in McCombs?

This place gives us so much, so many opportunities to excel, that it makes mediocrity feel criminal.