MSBA Program Adds Analytics Director From Macys.com

For Dr. Daqing Zhao, former director of Advanced Analytics at Macys.com, the opportunity to teach in Dominican’s new Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) program and join his friend, Dr. Yung-Jae Lee, new dean of the Barowsky School of Business, was the way to go.

“I was trained a physical scientist at Stanford University, and worked on large scale scientific data processing and data analysis in the 1990s. I also worked in business analytics for the last 25 years and accumulated a large set of data analytics use cases, which are very valuable to companies and universities,” says Dr. Zhao who will teach a Programming for Data Analytics course.

“My combination of scientific rigor and extensive industry experience is quite unique. Now, I am interested in teaching the next generations on data science, and it is my giving back to society. Dean Lee just set up the new Business Analytics program at Dominican and it is a great opportunity for me to help and make a difference.”

Beginning in the fall, students enrolled in the one-year hybrid MSBA program will learn to use quantitative data analytics tools (including Python, R, and Tableau) to transform complex data into actionable business decisions and communicate the results effectively. Graduates will be prepared for careers such as data analyst, data scientist, business analyst, financial analyst, marketing analyst, operations analyst, supply chain analyst, forensic analyst, gap analyst, and program/product management.

According to Science Daily, more than 90% of the world’s data has been generated in the last two years. However, the talent gap continues to grow for employees who can analyze large data sets.

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Dr. Zhao has extensive experience in learning and research at traditional universities, having published technical papers in physics, chemistry, biology and bioinformatics journals. He worked in several Silicon Valley Internet companies for over a decade on data mining insights and solutions for customer acquisition and retention, customer segmentation and predictive modeling, as well as customer life time value.

In his Programming for Data Analytics class Dr. Zhao expects there will be a lot of materials that will be condensed into a seven-week course, helping students get started on the journey of using computers to do data science.

“Programming for Data Analytics is a foundation course in data science,” Dr. Zhao says. “Through programming, we use data science tools to slice and dice the data, to visualize them, to manipulate the data in shape to give us insights and to build models.”

Dr. Zhao’s aim is to make a big difference in a short amount of time. The MSBA is a 12-month program consisting of 11 courses plus a practicum. Students will take two courses over a seven-week (two-month) period. There will be four Saturday afternoon in-person sessions and six Wednesday online sessions.

Dr. Zhao anticipates this course to be a part of preparations for topics such as personalization through big data and Artificial Intelligence. His experience with Macys.com will come in handy.

“Personalization is a big analytics topic or field in business analytics. In retail, we need to personalize content and experience to help improve relevance and reduce information overload,” Dr. Zhao says. “In order to do personalization, we need to predict customer behaviors, build customer profiles, matching products and contents, and we need to handle large amount of data.”

The bonus in Dr. Zhao teaching at Dominican is reconnecting with Dr. Lee.

 “He treats me as a trusted partner with deep industry knowledge, and I see him as a great leader and mentor in academia,” Dr. Zhao says. “Dean Lee presented the new Business Analytics program to Dominican as an opportunity to make a big difference.”

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Dr. Zhao brings an impressive resume. He has held senior management and technical leadership positions at ask.com, the University of Phoenix, Tribal Fusion, Yahoo, Digital Impact, and Bank of America. He also worked on client analytics projects for Intel, HP, Wells Fargo Bank, SBC, Dell, T-Mobile, MSN Search and Travel, Intrawest, PayPal, wine.com, MasterCard and others.

Dr. Zhao had worked at Macys.com in San Francisco for six years. His expertise is experimentation, predictive analytics and data science plus use of online/offline big data to support personalization and online marketing in multiple channels.

“I am excited to leverage my experience there and the ones before that to help new generation data science students.”

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