How This MSBA Student Went from Philosophy to Business Analytics

Josh Brooks (MSBA class of 2021) on one of his backpacking trips in the Foothills of Boise, ID with his dog, Chance.

Josh Brooks (MSBA class of 2021) on one of his backpacking trips in the Foothills of Boise, ID with his dog, Chance.

Ever heard of taking the “road less traveled by?” Josh Brooks has. Josh is a member of the Foster, Master of Science in Business Analytics class of 2021, and is originally from Virginia.

Dubbed as the “birthplace of a nation,” Virginia is known for its strong ties to the origins of the U.S. government and philosophical thought. Inspired by all the rich history around him, Josh elected to pursue a B.A. in Philosophy and Government from the University of Virginia for his undergraduate education. However, that is not the road he stayed on. Keep reading to find out how Josh wound up as a business analyst in the Evergreen State.

On the Bus to Business Analytics

During his time as an undergraduate student at UVA, Josh worked as a part-time student dispatcher and driver for the university’s transit system. Part of this position included data collection and visualization to augment the safety plans of the transit system. Josh used the skills gained in this capacity to bolster a serendipitous segue into the world of business analytics.

After graduating from UVA, Josh spent over three years working as a data analyst for the Boyd Caton Group, a consulting company that specializes in increasing the efficiency of public transportation.

“At the time, I just wanted a job and I wasn’t too concerned about where I landed. Just start anywhere is what I thought to myself,” Josh explains. “A lot of what I was doing was collecting, transforming, and analyzing data in Excel. I found that I was actually really good at it [data analysis]. It was fun, kept me engaged, and wasn’t theoretical, like my undergrad.”

The Bridge Between Philosophy and Analytics

Although Josh’s early ventures into the world of business analytics weren’t nearly as theoretical as his educational background, he was still able to rely on a lot of theory gained from his philosophical education. “A big part of why I think I enjoyed it so much is because I was able to use a lot of the same logic used in philosophy. I had never realized it prior to that role, but so much of philosophical logic is directly applicable to business analytics,” states Josh.

The bridge goes two ways. While business analysts like Josh are able to transfer theoretical concepts into technical strategies, they also help fill the growing need for business analysts with social science backgrounds who can understand core policy problems that a lot of business analysts aim to solve.

The world doesn’t just need more business analysts with super-sonic coding abilities and a predisposition to all things tech, but also business analysts that understand how policies, public networks, and business decisions interact to create the powerful and modern societies we live in today.

We recognize this growing need for holistic-minded business analysts at Foster MSBA, which is why both our class of 2020 and 2021 include cohorts with at least 10% social science and humanities majors. It’s also why our curriculum includes multiple courses about business and how analytics can be applied to various situations.

Nature’s Path

When he’s not bridging the two domains of analytics and philosophy, Josh can be found outside in nature’s domain. An avid outdoorsman, Josh takes part in a variety of sports, “white water kayaking and backpacking through mountains are what I enjoy doing most.”

Josh was able to bring his reverence for nature into the MSBA classroom, by completing a project with team members on how data can be used to combat global deforestation in the Data Visualization and Storytelling (BUS AN 579) course.

Furthermore, due to ill timing, Josh began the MSBA program remotely from Idaho. To make the best out of a less than ideal situation, Josh went backpacking through the Boise foothills, something he’s always wanted to do.

“It’s ironic because one of the main reasons I was drawn specifically to the Foster MSBA program was its intentional cohort model which facilitates an emphasis on in-person collaboration between students and faculty,” Josh states.

Although the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic made it so that the MSBA program had to shift to a virtual method of instruction, Josh believes Foster MSBA’s core emphasis on teamwork allowed for an immensely successful transition.

“At its heart, the Foster MSBA program wants its students to work together with each other, and with professors. As a result, even with online classes, it still feels like we are a community.”

According to Josh, the community aspect of the Foster MSBA program is furthered by its teams’ structure, where students are a member of two different student groups throughout the year that work on projects and host weekly study sessions with each other.

“Once the rainy season is over, I want to have all my teammates over for a cookout. We’re also going to try to make the best of this last stretch of wintry weather by going skiing.”

Rain or shine, Josh knows his Foster teammates have his back, just like he has theirs.

Want to hear more about students like Josh? Check back regularly to learn more about the current cohort of MSBA students!


Written by Maryam Noor
MSBA Writer & Content Strategist
[email protected]

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