As classmates in the first cohort of Dominican University of California’s Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) program, Maia Torneros and Rachael Bogdanovich ’12 learned the value of data analysis and how it has enhanced their careers.
“The program has been very enriching and I’ve really enjoyed getting to work with the others in my cohort,” says Maia, who earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing and Digital Media from Saint Mary’s College in Moraga. “Before joining the program, I would consider myself someone with more soft skills. But now, I feel like I have a better understanding of new software programs and how they can be used to make data-driven decisions.”
Rachael (pictured on left in above photo), who graduated from Dominican with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Art and Design from the School of Liberal Arts and Education, had aspirations of becoming an art director for a major design firm.
“However, like even the best laid plans, my career trajectory went a little off course,” says Rachael, Marketing Operations Manager at Ookla, a global leader in mobile and broadband network intelligence, testing application, and technology based in Seattle. “Discovering data analytics was a pleasant side effect of that misadventure, and years later I am right back where I started looking to learn the skills needed for my career growth.”
Maia (pictured on right in above photo) is a Recruiting Operations Assistant at Palantir Technologies, a software development company in Palo Alto that specializes in big data analysis. She also has had internships with in marketing and human resources with companies such as Aerotek in Alameda, Aduro Biotech in Berkeley, KeyPoint Credit Union in Santa Clara, and Sonoma Technology, Inc.
“My degree heavily impacted my success in the internship with Sonoma Technology,” she says. “That internship was the perfect opportunity for me to utilize my marketing background, as well as my data analytics skills. I helped with the creation of executive dashboards using Power BI, and my classes really helped me with that.”
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Maia has always been fascinated by how companies communicate their products to consumers. She believes because of digital media that social media platforms and the internet have become a standard for marketing practices.
“I had the opportunity to study abroad in South Korea in January of 2020 to learn about business innovation. I learned so much in my time there and believe that this trip affirmed my decision to study business,” Maia says. “I loved being in the classroom and being able to hear about different business practices. In my time there, I learned how one must not only be adaptable in one’s personal life but also in one’s professional life.”
Maia came to Dominican at the recommendation of Dr. Yung-Lee, Dean of the Barowsky School of Business who joined St. Mary’s in 1998 as a professor of business analytics and served as associate dean of Graduate Business and Global Programs, director of the Professional MBA Program, chair of the Operations Management and Quantitative Methods Department, and finally interim dean of the School of Economics and Business Administration.
“While finishing my undergraduate degree, I found myself very interested in my digital marketing and market research classes the most,” Maia says. “I connected with Dr. Lee and he invited me to meet with some Dominican staff and other potential students to learn more about the program. I was very attracted to the idea of being in a smaller program, so that I could get more attention from professors.”
That attention was evident during the pandemic when MSBA professors integrated a lot of group work in their classes. Maia says that helped her better interact with her classmates. She says she was nervous that she wouldn’t be able to ask her questions in class, but the professors were always flexible and arranged to meet for office hours.
“One of the things I really appreciated about being the first cohort, is that the professors were really open to feedback. They would ask about what we might be interested in learning, or try to relate lectures to some people’s area of expertise,” Maia says. “They were always understanding of people’s busy schedule, and worked with us to make sure we succeeded.”
Rachael said the highlight of her Dominican experience was meeting her cohorts, which included 18 full-time students and one part-timer. She joined the MSBA program because of its rapidly-evolving field and discovered her classmates were of the same mindset.
“We came from a wide range of backgrounds and everyone had something different to contribute,” Rachael says. “Working so intensely with each other created a very collaborative atmosphere. It reminded me a lot of what I loved about my undergraduate experience at Dominican; everyone is in this together.”
Rachael’s foray into business analytics started in early 2020 when she was considering a career shift. She took a short career exploration class and was surprised to see that the assessments she completed suggested looking into data analysis or data management.
“The facilitator suggested that I look further into business analytics in particular, and recommended additional education as my background is in graphic design. Eventually I decided to go for it and found the MSBA program at the right time,” Rachael says.
It turned out that Rachael was drawn by how objective data can be and how similar it can be to art design and graphics. Her undergraduate degree fit nicely into the pursuit of her master's degree.
“In the end it’s all about finding solutions. You’re given a situation, it could be very clear or fairly ambiguous, and you need to work with the information, resources, and parameters available to you in order to pull together something meaningful for your audience,” Rachael says. “I’ll never stop being a designer, but as far as day jobs go data analytics checks all the boxes for me.”
Rachael’s knowledge of business analytics played an integral role in her versatile job as a marketing manager in San Francisco with Appen, an Australian multinational technology company specializing in training data for AI, since 2013. She worked there from September 2019 until last December.
“My MSBA was a great compliment to the work I did as a website and SEO manager at Appen,” she says. “A big part of my job involved testing, tracking, analyzing, and reporting on various types of data. Having a deeper understanding of statistical analysis alongside my industry expertise allowed me to make more informed decisions and provide my stakeholders with well-rounded, actionable insights.”
“My MSBA program was a testament to that idea that data is being used everywhere,” she says. “I got a better understanding of the importance of data, and how to manipulate and analyze it in an ethical way. There is a lot that can go wrong with data, but I feel empowered to use my knowledge in a positive way. I really appreciate being exposed to a wide range of data topics, and I’m glad that I was able to be a part of this program.”