One year at Fuqua seemed to be a short time, but you can build up so many essential skills that you would potentially need in your future career. Three things that I learned at Fuqua which have stood out and have proven to be so valuable in my job search and my time at Wells Fargo as a credit risk associate are:
1. Data manipulation skills
2. The skill of thinking through problems from a business perspective
3. The ability to communicate an esoteric project in simple and persuasive language
At Wells Fargo, we use extensive SQL programming language to pull data and manipulate and transform that data into an easily digestible format. I knew a little SQL before I attended Fuqua’s Master of Quantitative Management (MQM) program, but the Data Infrastructure class taught by Professor Ryan Burk has really made me step-up my SQL game.
My colleagues at Wells Fargo were often amazed by how fast and efficient I wrote my SQL code and I know now that without Professor Ryan Burk, I would never have reached such proficiency.
All the professors that taught data analytics in the MQM program emphasized one key principle: Use data because it is useful, not because it is trendy or fancy.
I remember the very first big data project that I worked on. My teammates and I picked a dataset with 700,000 lending records from Lending Club to do an analysis. During one meeting with my teammates, through our discussion on how to improve our project, we came up with the idea that we should not only build a model for the sake of pursuing high accuracy, but also build an underwriting strategy framework that could help Lending Club make more money.
Instead of choosing typical data science model evaluation metrics, like accuracy and AUC (Area under the ROC Curve), we established a more sophisticated evaluation metric that can estimate expected profit.
I was extremely lucky to have great and capable teammates around me throughout my time at Fuqua. This project ended up being one of the highlights on the resumes of all my teammates.
This project directly helped me land my current job at Wells Fargo. All the individuals I interviewed with were very curious about this project because my current responsibilities at Wells Fargo are to leverage data analytics to manage credit risk.
The MQM program offers a variety of data analytics courses like Data Science for Business, Data Infrastructure, and Decision Analytics. But one class that people often overlook in the MQM program is Business Communication.
The value of the Business Communication course cannot be understated. To be successful in a data-driven role, it helps to not only be able to identify the insights, but to also be adept at communicating them in the context of the business problem you are addressing. The Business Communication course provides that skillset.
We often focus our time on developing skills that we don’t have. But we forget to polish the skills that we already possess, in order to make it our strength. Soft skills need practice.
The Business Communication and Data Visualization classes were two that helped me tremendously since they made me spend more time on thinking and practicing how to present data analytics results. Those skills proved to be very useful during my interview and my work because I can confidently speak about my project to my managers and interviewers.
Succeeding as a data professional requires a well-rounded skill set. I believe Fuqua’s MQM program can help develop almost every part of someone’s analytical toolbox.