In 2017, Aakanksha Baid was living in Australia, working as a Provider Data Analyst at Medibank, the second largest healthcare provider in Australia. Her passion for numbers developed early and led her to two degrees in statistics, both her bachelors and masters.
Originally from Delhi, India, Aakanksha spent six years altogether, in data analytics industries of India and Australia. A self prescribed fan of adventure, she moved from sector to sector, challenging herself to try new industries and roles. But, as she progressed in her career, she kept coming back to one question, “What happens after I crunch the data?” No change in role or industry had led her to an answer. Aakanksha knew how to match up data, how to present it, but when it came to business decision making using the findings, she lacked knowledge. “When I think back to the experiences I had, I always felt the need to connect my statistical knowledge with the business context, and to learn where my findings fit in terms of business decision making,” she recalls. She knew it was also a skill she would need if she wanted to become a business analytics manager, the leadership role she wanted to step into next.
Finding Answers at Foster
During this time, Aakanksha’s husband began his experience as an MBA student at The Foster School of Business at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. “My husband had such a positive experience at Foster and was so impressed by the faculty, that I decided to check out degree options for myself.” Aakanksha explored many options at Foster before coming across a brand new program, The Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA). “MSBA was the perfect springboard to broaden my career. I felt like I would get to learn more about the city of Seattle and about general business concepts, while being able to leverage my experience as an insights analyst. It was the perfect synthesis of learning the data technical subjects, but also the business context.”
Aakanksha felt confident about her decision and started MSBA as part of the first cohort this past summer. “I have been loving it so far. The courses and faculty are some of the best parts. I have enjoyed classes like Programming Essentials where I came across the software R and Github, for the first time.” Like her husband, she is also impressed by the faculty. “The other thing is class itself,” she says. “Everyone comes from such diverse backgrounds. I learn so much from class discussions. Professors encourage everyone to participate and entertain all perspectives, even if it means digressing from the topic for a bit.” She is happy that her background and breadth of experience is informing her own contributions in class. “I have always liked adventure and challenges, now I feel like they are my biggest strengths and contributions to the program. Working in different continents, countries, and industries has it’s unique experiences. And, so does working with diverse people and teams. That has been great to be able to share.”
Looking Ahead at her Masters in Business Analytics
Aakanksha feels like she is receiving the skill set she needs to move forward in her career with the help of her masters in business analytics. “At first, it was overwhelming because of the fast pace, but now I appreciate that the curriculum is designed the way it is.” The program is designed to introduce students to programming and leadership subjects in the first quarter. “In a short amount of time you have to do a lot of things simultaneously, so even if you are not inclined to plan or organize, you are forced to learn by the end of that quarter. It’s a skill I have developed and love that I get to practice managing multiple things at once. It’s challenging at times, but you learn so much because you get to test out new strategies and see what works best for you.”
Aakanksha is looking forward to other courses as well. “From a data point of view, you cannot survive in this day and age without knowing about machine learning and AI, so I am looking forward to learning more about those subjects. And, we will also have a negotiations course, which I believe you can also use in any role or industry.”
It might be a few months before Aakanksha delves into those courses, but she has plenty of things to keep her busy until then. “I am excited to finally get some time to hike Mt. Rainier, visit Olympic National Park, and try different cuisine.” she shares. “Every city gives you something unique to discover.”
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