Meet MBA/MSDS Student, Winfred Hills, ’20
Today, we continue our MBA/MSDS spotlight with a conversation with MBA/MSDS student Winfred Hills!
Winfred is originally from Kenner, Louisiana, and he is interested in early stage technology. When asked his favorite thing about Cville, he cited the accessibility: “I’m originally from the New Orleans area, and then I lived in Atlanta for four years. In both cities, you absolutely needed a car. However, I sold my car before I moved to Charlottesville and haven’t missed it one bit. Public transit is free for university students, university shuttles serve the entire grounds and hardly anything is further than a 15 minute Lyft ride.” Also, if you’ve been following our recent Consortium coverage, Winfred is a Consortium member. Check out Winfred’s answers below!
Why did you apply for the MBA/MSDS dual degree?
I studied Mathematics in college, and my plan was always to get an MBA and then apply my analytical skills in the business arena. After college, I landed a role in Data & Analytics Consulting within Ernst & Young’s Financial Services group, and we would often have continuing education courses on data, analytics and the different applications of Artificial Intelligence (machine learning, deep learning, data mining, etc.). After doing this work for a few years, I knew I still wanted to get an MBA, but I also knew that if I didn’t graduate with the skills or framework to to harness the power of big data then I wouldn’t be fully equipped to lead in the digital age ahead.
How’s the experience been so far?
I’ve learned so much. We started this summer, with two online MBA courses and two on-grounds classes in Python and R/SAS. This fall, we’ve had the Darden core as well as a linear modeling course. It’s been a whirlwind, but it’s been great.
The program has some prerequisites. How did you approach fulfilling the prerequisite requirement?
As a Mathematics major, I had taken taken all the prerequisite courses, but I did take an online course in Python to try to flatten the learning curve a bit since I did not have any prior exposure to this data manipulation language.
How do you feel this experience/training will set you apart in the marketplace?
First and foremost, it is worth noting that we can leverage the Data Science Institute’s Career Services Office and Darden’s Career Development Center (CDC).
As far as the marketplace goes, companies everywhere are standing up analytics teams. Organizations that don’t currently have data capabilities are trying to figure out what they can do/need to do to leverage their data. We are in the digital age, and, with explosion of the Internet of Things, data is only going to become more abundant.
Those individuals who can not only wrangle that data but also offer valuable insights that can be monetized or provide a competitive advantage will be highly sought after. The knowledge obtained with the MBA/MSDS dual degree puts me and my classmates right at that intersection.
Any advice for prospective students?
My advice is very practical. Figure out the skills that are the most valuable for the career you want. With the MBA/MSDS, you will be completing two rigorous programs in two years. That’s quite an achievement, but given the amount of work, you need to know it’s the right step for you.
Once, you’ve decided this is what you want, start taking online coding classes. While you by no means need to be a programmer, It is much easier to learn new applications of a language you’re somewhat familiar with than to learn a language and its application simultaneously.