Data Surgeon: Andrey Aredakov of GGU’s Master’s in Business Analytics Program


“Would you rather have a surgeon who knows everything from books or surgeon who has actually done your kind of operation?” That is how Andrey Aredakov sums up his teaching philosophy in the master’s degree in business analytics program at GGU. “Knowing a formula for standard deviation doesn’t help much in business. One has to apply it to solve concrete business problems.” For this reason, Aredakov gives his students a data set and challenges them to unlock its potential and communicate the results. In the real-world of business, these insights will give their colleagues what they need to make decisions.

Aredakov works as a Data Analyst at a major search engine company based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Colleagues from various sectors of the company approach him to make sense of an enormous data flow that is expanding by the millisecond. This data flow emerges from user behavior, digital advertising customers, and information from mobile devices. Aredakov presents data results to the various “clients” in the company such as product managers, project managers, and engineers—as well as members of the finance, marketing, and sales teams.

“Storytelling and good communication are part of the job of a business analytics or data analyst professional,” says Aredakov. “This is not about the book knowledge or the statistics. It is about taking out what is unnecessary and telling a kind of story to colleagues that will help them grow the business. The trick is not to create many slides that are full of data charts, but come up with one slide that leaves out everything extraneous and makes finding the solution easier.”

Transforming data into a story liberates a fundamental business asset and gives professionals what they need to improve a company’s product, efficiency, and bottom line. “In today’s world, we have a lot of data and computers that help us compute anything in a short time,” Aredakov says, “but all these numbers require interpretation. Only an expert can provide that.”


Learning R
Aredakov’s students are using R, an open-source statistical tool for business that is dramatically simpler than query languages such as SQL and scripting languages such as Python. You can get results sets, such as the “correlogram” below, in a matter of seconds just by calling the function. The example below correlates car MPG performance (top left box) with various factors such as the number of cylinders (column 2).

About Andrey Aredakov
Andrey Aredakov has worked as a quantity/quality researcher in media, web, and advertising analytics for the last twelve years. His specialties are media and Web analytics, as well as competitive research. Aredakov earned a PhD degree in philosophy at Moscow State University. After working as a data analyst at various companies in Toronto, he moved to San Francisco and joined a major search engine company.


Request information about Golden Gate University’s Business Analytics master’s degree >>

What Everyone Planning to Get an MBA Should Be Reading, Every Day!


By Terry Connelly, Dean Emeritus of the Ageno School of Business at Golden Gate University

When I first started the entry-level Wall Street training program at Salomon Brothers, our first instruction was simple: Force yourself to read The Wall Street Journal, end to end, every weekday. If you are planning to pursue Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree, that advice is still good.

Today’s vast new array of digital media offers the aspiring MBA student a range of choices to keep up with business and economic affairs. Perhaps there are too many choices—so many so that you can focus on the Web sites that fit your personal world-view. And yet..the precious time in your life that you devote getting an MBA offers a tremendous opportunity to challenge your preconceived notions, rather than reinforce them. Learning other points of view will help you as you advance in your career.

Most business magazines are like a day-old sandwich. Web sources that are committed to near real-time news are helpful.

The New York Times (front section): Don’t focus so much on the business pages—those are yesterday’s news. The front pages and even the Op-Eds will offer far more clues as to what will move events and markets and commerce today, and even more so, tomorrow.

The Economist: This British journal is the quickest way to get something all MBAs need: a world view. You will find that The Economist has its own, distinctive, world view. In reading this, you will confront ideas different than your own, early and often, in your schooling. So go ahead and argue with our British friends and figure out your own view of things, and absorb the incredible amount of carefully crafted and thoroughly researched reporting and perspective it provides every week—especially in its in-depth special sections.

Financial Times: While you are in the “British Reading Room” perusing the Economist, also look at Financial Times, which will offer you a perspective on American business, finance, and politics that, as they used to say of Schweppes soda, is “curiously refreshing.” You will want to keep up with Brexit and the doings of the European Community institutions, the Eurozone, German competitors, and French upstarts (Watch that space.).

The Financial Times does not do a bad job covering the Asian region either. You can add Singapore’s Straits Times for that, or better yet, Bloomberg’s Live TV around midnight Pacific Time—when the stock and bond and currency trading day has already started. Speaking of Bloomberg, consider its Businessweek because it is reinventing itself as a more focused journal.

Terry Connelly’s Best Websites for Aspiring MBAs

The New York Times (front section) >>
Financial Times  >>
The Economist  >>
Straits Times (Singapore) >>
Bloomberg’s Live TV >>
Bloomberg’s Businessweek >>
Recode >>
Axios >>

Sidewire >>

Expert Discussion and Commentary

No, I am not going to close with a recommendation of The Washington Post, despite their good information leaks over the decades. Instead, I suggest you get fresh information. Sign up to get the daily online D.C. webcast chats on Axios or Sidewire (the latter of which I have the privilege of contributing to). They limit discussions to those who are experts in their field and summarize current issues that are not discussed in routine press headlines. Their discussions also reveal what to look for during the day and how to stay just a smidge ahead of events related to your industry, your investments, and your general peace of mind.

These sources will help you figure out how to meet the first and mandatory challenge that awaits those who seek to be leaders: defining reality. Most people come to their new jobs with illusions which may have served them well in previous positions but will lead to poor results in their current one. Occasionally, a leader has to shatter the illusions of their team with a cold dose of truth, like the “BI Running Platform” analogy found in more than one business school case study.

Defining reality provides what successful athletes and CEOs alike refer to as acute “situational awareness.” If you want to make the most of your post-MBA moments, use your MBA “free time” to learn how to always know the score and the time left on the clock.


About Terry Connelly

Terry Connelly is an economic expert and dean emeritus of the Ageno School of Business at Golden Gate University, California’s fifth largest private university and a nonprofit institution based in San Francisco with award-winning online cyber campus. With more than 30 years experience in investment banking, law and corporate strategy on Wall Street and abroad, Terry analyses the impact of government politics and policies on local, national and international economies, examining the interaction on global financial markets, the U.S. banking industry (and all of its regulatory agencies), the Federal Reserve, domestic employment levels and consumer reactions to the changing economic tides.

Terry holds a law degree from NYU School of Law and his professional history includes positions with Ernst & Young Australia, the Queensland University of Technology Graduate School of Business, New York law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore (corporate, securities and litigation practice in New York and London), global chief of staff at Salomon Brothers investment banking firm and Cowen & Company’s investments, where he served as CEO. In conjunction with Golden Gate University President Dan Angel, Terry co-authored Riptide: The New Normal In Higher Education (2011). Available on Amazon.com, Riptide deconstructs the changing landscape of higher education in the face of the for-profit debacle, graduation gridlock and staggering student debt, and asserts a new, sustainable model for progress. Terry is a board member of the Public Religion Research Institute, a Washington, DC think tank and polling organization, and the Cardiac Therapy Foundation in Palo Alto, California. Terry lives in Palo Alto with his wife.


Request information about Golden Gate University’s MBA program >>

Top-Tier Finanical Analysts & GGU Community Discuss Amazon Stock at Special Event


Golden Gate University’s Investment Research Club hosted a special group discussion at its downtown San Francisco campus: Amazon: blockbuster or bubble?  Organized by GGU’s Investment Research Club, the event was attended by graduate students in the GGU’s master’s degree in Finance program, as well as professional asset managers from around the finance industry.  GGU students were able to participate in a group analysis of a stock and the professional back-and-forth that characterizes the varying orientations and opinions of top analysts.

David Kaczorowski
David Kaczorowski

The event kicked off with a presentation by GGU’s Prof. David Kaczorowski, who spent five years in the investment banking industry as an equity research associate, covering technology companies such as Cisco. Kaczorowski gave a comprehensive review of Amazon’s business strategy, which includes its core third-party platform business, Cloud Services, Amazon Marketplace, and Amazon Prime. The company’s  “land-and-expand” strategy with its third-party selling platform has been effective, despite its low profitability. However, Amazon is building on its platform with high margin services like Amazon Marketplace and Amazon Prime.

Kaczorowski continued, saying that the company will find new ways to be profitable and its stock will push higher. Although many believe Amazon’s stock price is peaking, he concluded that it had room to grow despite barriers internationally—such as the dominance of Alibaba in China and a possible protective stance of European countries.

Howard Aschwald
Howard Aschwald

The next presenter was Howard Aschwald, Chief Investment Officer at Quantum Capital Management. A GGU graduate (MBA, Finance & Financial Planning, ’85), he offered the opinion that Amazon stock is overvalued, although the company is strong and its stock had a more stable price during the crash than its competitors.  GGU’s Hank Pruden, onetime instructor of Aschwald at GGU, commented on the technical analysis issues of Amazon stock. In response to various perspective offered by attendees, Aschwald replied in an industry maxim: “You can torture the numbers until you get them to say what you want.”



The Investment Research Club’s meetings are open to students and the public. 
For more information contact Gannon Kim (MA Finance, ’17).

About the Investment Research Club

The GGU Investment Research Club is intended to allow students to participate in an enjoyable intellectual exercise while learning the time-honored and effective methods of the business. We are a group of students who have a passion for finance and investing. We meet regularly to collectively research, analyze, and value companies from an investor’s perspective. Through research, networking, and guest speakers, we will gain practical skills, industry knowledge, and connections to help each other increase our aptitude with investments. The Golden Gate University Investment Research Club consolidates University and member resources to develop an educational platform which strengthens our understanding of investment research and provide practical experience in company analysis.

What Makes for Quality Online Education?

online-library
by Doug Geier, GGU’s Director of eLearning and Instructional Design

Online education is enormously popular, with the number of online students in the US growing to over 6 million in 2015. This is true at Golden Gate University, where many students get their degrees or certificates 100% or partially online. Online classes provide a way for many students to fit education into their daily lives, an opportunity that they may not have otherwise.

If you become a GGU student, you will soon realize that you are at a school that takes online education seriously – 94% of students who took 80% or more of their courses online favorably rated the overall quality of their education at GGU (2016-17 GGU Graduating Student Survey).

More than an Internet Connection

At GGU, we think online learning is more than a medium or a convenient way to learn. Quality online learning is built with many elements – not just an instructor and an Internet connection. Here are the features of GGU’s quality eLearning experience:

  • Faculty experience in an online environment
  • Opportunities for interaction among students and instructors
  • Stimulating and engaging eLearning
  • Integrated online learning platform for interaction, multimedia, and assignment submission
  • Dedicated eLearning department to ensure proper student and faculty proficiency
  • 24/7 support team for technical issues students may have
  • Curriculum that connects learning to the real world

Creating the GGU Online Experience: The eLearning Department

I have a passion for online learning because it provides an opportunity for all students to participate in course activities, contribute to the discussion, and engage with one another. (No one has a “back-row” seat in online learning.) It’s also a great supplement to classroom learning and provides a great deal of flexibility for the adult learner.

One of the building blocks of the GGU online experience is the eLearning Department, which I lead. The eLearning instructional designers have experience and training in both technology and education—and how the two come together for effective teaching and learning. Through GGU’s Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, the instructional design team supports faculty in the effective use of technology for education.


Golden Gate University has been recognized for excellence in online education for its MBA, Counseling Psychology, and graduate-level Accounting programs.
Learn more about GGU’s accolades >>


Even though we have been offering online education for over 20 years, we are always seeking to improve the student experience. We stay on top of the latest trends and effective practices by monitoring educational blogs, publications, and sites related to technology, online learning, and higher education. Educause Learning Initiative, EdSurge HigherEd, the Online Learning Consortium, and WCET are all wonderful sources of information and inspiration. We also exchange ideas with others in the online education community through attendance at conferences and meetups. Most importantly, we listen to feedback from students and faculty and strive to continually improve the quality of online education at GGU.

My Experience as an Online Student

I hear positive feedback from our online students, but I also share this perspective as a fellow online student at GGU. I’ll be completing my MBA degree this year, most of which I have taken online. If the courses had not been challenging and provided the opportunity to interact with fellow students and the instructor, I wouldn’t have remained engaged and interested. As a working professional, I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish this if not for effective online courses.


About Doug Geier

Doug Geier is the Director of eLearning and Instructional Design at Golden Gate University where he oversees LMS support, instructional design, help desk and proctored testing services. He was a 2012 participant in the Online Learning Consortium’s (OLC) Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning and continues to be an active member of the OLC community–serving as a volunteer, presenter, and conference track chair. Doug is also a member of the Substantive Change Committee with the WASC Senior College and University Commission and a part-time MBA student at GGU. In previous roles, Doug has held positions in educational software publishing and online learning as a producer, content developer, and instructional designer.


Special Event: Amazon–Blockbuster or Bubble?

Join Golden Gate University’s Investment Research Club for a special group discussion: Amazon: blockbuster or bubble? Participants in the meeting will include professional asset managers who hold Amazon in their institutional portfolios and will allow GGU students to participate in a real-world analysis of a stock—the way the pros do it. The event will include a presentation by Prof. David Kaczorowski, who spent five years in the investment banking industry as an equity research associate, covering technology companies.

Amazon is a member of what the investor community calls FANG: Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google. These four stocks have been red hot over the last one-to-two years, and the number one driver of the market upturn. The professional investor community is in a fierce debate right now as to whether this huge rise constitutes a bubble.

This event is free and is open to the public—no registration required.

Join Us!

When: Tuesday, June 6th, 2017 at 6pm

Location: Golden Gate University campus, Room 5208

For more information on the event and the Investment Research Club, contact Gannon Kim.

About the Investment Research Club

The GGU Investment Research Club is intended to allow students to participate in an enjoyable intellectual exercise while learning the time-honored and effective methods of the business. We are a group of students who have a passion for finance and investing. We meet regularly to collectively research, analyze, and value companies from an investor’s perspective. Through research, networking, and guest speakers, we will gain practical skills, industry knowledge, and connections to help each other increase our aptitude with investments. The Golden Gate University Investment Research Club consolidates University and member resources to develop an educational platform which strengthens our understanding of investment research and provide practical experience in company analysis.

Video: Why Go to Business School in San Francisco?

Golden Gate University is located in downtown San Francisco in the heart of the Financial District. In this video, Dr. Gordon Swartz, Dean of GGU’s Ageno School of Business, reflects on the city’s reputation and position in the business world.

Dr. Swartz’s holds a DBA from Harvard University and has extensive and varied experience that combines business school teaching, research, and administration — with strategy consulting and development of high-growth organizations. As vice president of MarketBridge, Inc., he led major marketing, sales strategy, and transformation efforts for Fortune Global 500 companies.

Getting an MBA degree at GGU in San Francisco, specifically in the “FiDi”, gives students access to a wealth of expert working faculty and networking opportunities in major business areas such as finance, accounting, taxation, marketing, project management, and IT management. Throughout its 115-year history, Golden Gate University has become an integral part of the San Francisco business world — with over 16,000 alumni residing in the San Francisco Bay Area alone.

Starting a Career in Supply Chain–the Right Field for Me

supply-chain-image
Anne-Mari Parkkinen (MBA ‘08) is a Supply Chain Analyst at Sonic Manufacturing Technologies.


A career in Supply Chain is not often on the minds of people that are starting an MBA program. I didn’t have a clear view of what I wanted to major when I applied. During a two-day orientation for international students at GGU, the line for the Supply Chain program table not as long as the others—only because people like me did not know much about it. When I got to the table and met program chair Richard Dawe, I began to discover that the Supply Chain career would the right fit for me.

I don’t consider myself a ‘math person.’ I like the fact that much of my job requires human judgment and making a proper interpretation of data.

What is Supply chain? 

The Supply Chain includes everything that happens from raw material to the end product in a customer’s hand. This includes many things such as procurement and logistics — getting the right products or services to where they need to be.  All companies are complex, and if their employees only think about the end product, it may be more expensive to get it to the customer in the long run. Everyone talks about product price in terms of Supply Chain, but it includes logistics and dealing with manufacturers and choosing the best one that can deliver the part ASAP. There are various roles in the field such a logistics expert, Supply Chain analyst (as I am), or Supply Chain manager just to mention a few.

Because Supply Chain is so important to a company’s bottom line, more people need to take advantage of opportunities in the field. Every type of company needs logistics or supply chain professional, and there are many vacancies. There is also a trend of manufacturing returning to the U.S. which will increase demand.  Supply Chain is also a very good field to enter because it relates to all industries.

The demand-to-supply ratio of jobs to qualified individuals is six to one.
— Supply and Demand Chain Executive Magazine (2016)

Why I Like It

Supply Chain jobs can be surprisingly rewarding. This career fits my love of research and solving logical puzzles. Supply Chain is not a mathematical discipline, and I don’t consider myself a “math person.”  I like the fact that much of my job requires human judgment and making a proper interpretation of data—how to sort it and decide what the most important factors are.  I enjoy doing the research to help me come to my conclusions. Another part of what I love about my job is getting to find out about every physical aspect of a product and learn what makes it work.

My Experience at Golden Gate University

I got an MBA from GGU with a field of study that included Operations, Supply Chain Management, International Logistics, and Project Management. Here is what I liked most about my experience:

  • The faculty teach from their real-world experience
  • Many fellow students were working adults, which gave me more insights into the supply chain and its wider business context.
  • The education is actually relevant to what I need in my job today.
  • Classes are very interactive and conversational. We are problem solving all the time rather than hearing lectures.

I really enjoyed studying in GGU and would absolutely recommend it to everyone who is thinking about pursuing their career with MBA.


Request information about Golden Gate University’s MBA program >>

Free 10-week Course in Small Business Development at GGU

small-business-entrepreneurial-classes
The Entrepreneur Center at Golden Gate University will offer a free, 10-week course for those looking to turn their business ideas into reality. Held at the university’s downtown San Francisco campus, the intensive Small Business Preview Course prepares individuals for launching a small business by providing the foundational knowledge essential for success.

Participants will work in a collaborative environment in which they use each other as advisors and sounding boards. They will leave the course with a strong foundation for their business or entrepreneurial plan, a clear direction for the business, and knowledge of what it takes to get started. The course is relevant to all kinds of business environments such as technology, service, retail, or nonprofit.


Applications are due by May 31, 2017
Learn more >>


Michelle Foster – who is creating 2Grow Learning, Inc. and the 2Grow Unlimited Foundation – is a graduate of the most recent course. “I have always been an entrepreneur at heart,” she says. “Attending the class helped push me forward and start thinking about finally making my dream a reality. I refined some ideas and considered new ones to take my concept out of my head and into reality. I got support and advice from two dozen fellow students who were going through the same process. The class enables people like me to take their vision, education, and experience and start making them a reality.”

The Small Business Preview Course will take place Saturdays from June 10 to August 19, 2017 from 9am-Noon, at Golden Gate University’s San Francisco campus. Applications are due by May 31, 2017. More information is available at www.ggu.edu/small-biz.


The course will be taught by LouAnn Conner, Founder and CEO of SagaciousThink and consultant to start-up businesses. SagaciousThink supports companies by offering operations excellence either as interim management or in a project or consulting capacity. Prior, Conner held senior leadership positions at Booz Allen Hamilton, Honeywell- TSI, and Pricewaterhouse Coopers.


Driving 10,000 Miles to Attend GGU’s Small Business Class

By Michelle Foster 

I received my MBA  from GGU in 1988, and have been working since in a variety of roles which built upon my education – from startups to giant corporations and everything in between in a variety of industries. I think I can safely say that over the years I have become a “Jill-of-all-Trades.”

In 2016 I was laid off from a very stressful job four days before Christmas, and in mid-January I received an email from GGU regarding the free Small Business Course. The timing couldn’t have been better!

We were not only able to share the driving to and from Los Angeles and San Francisco, but also work on refining our business plans and discuss what we had learned in the Saturday morning classes.All ten thousand miles driven this quarter were definitely worth the effort!

I have been putting the pieces together for a massive educational media and philanthropy business concept for nearly twenty years. In looking back at the last seven jobs I had held I realized that all but one of these jobs had ended badly for one reason or another. That’s not to say I hadn’t done well in these positions or learned from the experience I gained in them – it was, however, a wake-up call to realize that I am and always have been an entrepreneur at heart, and that to continue working for others was not only a recipe for more disaster but would not further my progress towards my true calling. It was time to “get real.” I am creating two organizations – 2Grow Learning, Inc. (a for-profit) and the 2Grow Unlimited Foundation (a non-profit). The two organizations will work together to provide educational and philanthropic resources on a large scale worldwide.


The FREE  Small Business Preview Course takes place Saturdays
from June 10th, 2017 to August 19th, 2017 at GGU’s San Francisco campus.
Applications are due by May 31, 2017
Apply>>


Because I live in Los Angeles I asked if there was anyone else in Southern California who might want to attend the program, and I was referred to fellow entrepreneur Freddie Scott. Every Friday morning for ten weeks Freddie and I left Los Angeles, drove to San Francisco, attended class for three hours on Saturday morning, and hit the road back to Los Angeles as soon as class was over so we could be back in time for dinner on Saturday evening. We were not only able to share the driving to and from San Francisco, but also work on refining our business plans and discuss what we had learned in the Saturday morning classes.

Attending the GGU Small Business Program helped push me forward and start thinking about finally making my dream a reality. I was able to refine some ideas that needed refining, consider ideas I had not thought of before, and take my concept out of my home office (and my head) and get the support and advice for it from two dozen people who are going through the very same process themselves. What I love most about this program is it enables people like myself to take their visions, education, and experience and start making them a reality. The best part is that ultimately as our businesses take shape they will contribute to the economy as well.

All ten thousand miles driven this quarter were definitely worth the effort!


About the Small Business Preview Course

This intensive, ten-week Preview Course is designed to prepare you for small business ownership by providing you with a foundation of knowledge essential for success. You’ll work in a highly collaborative group of peers who will act as your advisors and sounding board as you develop business concepts through a series of weekly assignments and a final, capstone presentation. By the end of the course, you will have a foundation for a strong business plan, a clear direction for the business, and knowledge of what it will take to get started on your small business journey. Go to the GGU website for more information on the course and to apply. Applications are due by May 31, 2017.

Cognitive Science, Machine Learning, and Business Analytics: An Interview with Johnson & Johnson CIO Stuart McGuigan


Would you please talk about your cognitive science background and your transition to business? Was this a leap?

I was part of the first attempt at cognitive science in the 1980’s, as the discipline was inventing itself. We researched psychologists of all types, computer science researchers but also linguists, philosophers and even a few math/stat folks. This afforded me the opportunity to learn about anything and not be overly focused on one approach.

At the time, I was trying to use Artificial Intelligence models (Minsky’s Frames) to understand the relationship between learning, memory and attitude change. I had social, memory and experimental psychologists as well as cognitive scientists supervising my work, which proved to be challenging as no one faculty member particularly cared about defending my work as a whole. But I picked up a little bit in a lot of areas.

These skills, when put together, helped me enter work on projects that involved things like machine learning and intelligent computer-assisted instruction with Aerospace and Defense Research and Development at Honeywell. After that, I had the opportunity to work in a data science group at Merck & Co., where I could apply my understanding of behavior change and do things like price elasticity, promotion response, and marketing experimental design.

We are using machine learning techniques to predict the likelihood of trauma-care products needed in a given region based on weather, holidays and, other predictors.

I ultimately found my way into IT where the data is created (or not), and the capability to bring advanced analytics to major problem solving and the development of people-centered solutions is enabled.

Does cognitive science have a relation to what you are doing today at Johnson & Johnson?

I would like to say that I was smart enough to know that the methods and tools I learned in graduate school would be relevant to me as Johnson & Johnson’s CIO. This is not at all the case!

There are two primary aspects of my cognitive science background that are extremely useful today.

  • The first is the statistical methods that we use to try to comprehend human cognitive behavior, which advances our understanding of consumers’ and patients’ behavior. We have long applied tools like predictive modeling to be able to identify what the next best action is to take.
  • Now, with machine learning, the system continuously and manually updates the model without human intervention. This means that the productivity of our data scientists can be greatly enhanced. With the ability to create machine learning models that extend the reach and power of each data scientist, we can leverage the creative work our professionals produce and extend it more broadly throughout the enterprise.

To lead a data science group, it is helpful if you are an “outgoing introvert”…who enjoys sharing that work with people, creating teams that do this valuable work, and persuading business leaders that this is an area well worth the investment.

 How did you get into the pharma industry?

My father had a long career in marketing, which resulted in my being born in Cincinnati, Ohio, while he was working at Procter & Gamble. Because of his career, I had always been intrigued by the idea of applying cognitive science techniques to marketing. So, once I decided it was time to get serious about establishing my career, I interviewed for a variety of positions, including a marketing job at Merck & Co.

Within its U.S. business, Merck & Co. had created a small group of what we now call data scientists, where we worked on things like promotion response assessment, hospital purchase probability modeling, conjoint analysis, and extrapolative methods for product forecasting. I don’t think there was any other time in the pharmaceutical industry until now, where a company like Merck & Co. would have hired someone like me. This gave me an opportunity to join a marketing development program where I rotated through roles like managing marketing research and product management. This business foundation has been enormously useful in my career leading IT organizations.

Johnson & Johnson U.S. Headquarters

What are the specific applications of data analytics at Johnson & Johnson? 

Data science is being applied to almost every business and function within Johnson & Johnson. It is being used to help us better understand and target consumer micro-segments in order to meet our people where they are – from the grocery store to the home. It is being used in the supply chain organization to understand how to create an agile response to emerging consumer demand locally, while planning on a global basis. We are using machine learning techniques to predict the likelihood of trauma-care products needed in a given region based on weather, holidays and, other predictors. Ultimately, we are using data science to identify and create people-centered solutions that help meet our consumers’ needs.

At Johnson & Johnson, I have been involved in all areas of data analytics. We have a group of about 30 data scientists in our IT organization supporting Janssen pharmaceuticals. I have played a role in establishing a group of supply chain professionals to model the supply chain flow, end to end. And most significantly, Johnson & Johnson created technology environments that allow us to break down the complexities of modeling, and support the massive amounts of data and power required for today’s techniques.

Is there a type of person that data science appeals to?

I don’t know if there is one type of data scientist. Data science work typically requires someone who is interested in math and in understanding the relationship of metrics to the real world. It requires the type of person who gets excited about finding and quantifying relationships that no one understood before. To lead a data science group, it is helpful if you are an “outgoing introvert”. An introvert can be defined as someone who gets their energy from quiet time working alone, while an “outgoing introvert” is someone who enjoys sharing that work with people, creating teams that do this valuable work, and persuading business leaders that this is an area well worth the investment.

One of the most important soft skills required for a top-performing data scientist is the ability to understand what your business partner is trying to do… If you take the time to ask your business partners, you may be surprised at how happy they are to share their work with you. 

 

For people who consider themselves data scientists first, what hard and soft skills do they most need in the business world? 

One of the most important soft skills required for a top-performing data scientist is the ability to understand what your business partner is trying to do. If you take the time to ask your business partners, you may be surprised at how happy they are to share their work with you. You can learn a lot in a short period of time about their business strategy, about the capabilities that are needed to accomplish business objectives, and the barriers that your business faces in accomplishing those goals. Once you have this knowledge, you can aim data science techniques at overcoming the most important obstacles. If you have helpful solutions to answer your business’ most critical problems, you will find a ready audience.

Lastly, what one thing would you like people to know about your field or your work at J&J?

Many individuals know about Johnson & Johnson from our Band-Aids® and baby products. But in reality, our two largest businesses are pharmaceuticals and medical devices. We are a health technology company fueled by empathy, and we ultimately attract people who are interested in our core mission which is helping people live longer, healthier and happier lives. If you’re interested in the opportunity to contribute to humanity in this way, and would rather develop people-centered solutions then say, tune search engines or adjust hedge fund algorithms, then we have a place for you!


Request information about Golden Gate University’s Business Analytics master’s degree >>