The Nicholas Center recently held its annual kick-off meeting, a great opportunity to re-connect with all the second-year students, meet the Class of 2020 and the new undergraduate analysts. Our guest of honor Susan Kreh, a prominent board member started the meeting off by describing her career path. Her extensive finance experience includes roles as a corporate treasurer, corporate controller and most recently, the CFO of Johnson Controls Power Solutions, where she helped drive revenue from $4 billion to over $7 billion. Susan spoke about what characteristics she’s found to be most common among successful finance professionals throughout her career. She also offered advice as to what soft and hard skills to obtain while in school and in the early stages of our careers. It was an excellent chance to reflect on what competencies I would like to develop during my last year as an MBA finance student.
One of Susan’s recommendations that resonated with me was to become proficient in data analytics. The continued enhancement of technologies such as robotic process automation and artificial intelligence has made large sets of data more readily available. As a result, finance professionals are able to re-allocate their time from data collection and data entry tasks to more value-added activities. Finance professionals must be capable of analyzing large data sets and drawing meaningful conclusions in order to create the most value for their organization or clients.
Susan’s insight about the importance of data analytics for a finance professional came at an opportune time for MBA students who may now enroll in a new Business Analytics certificate program. The certificate requires completion of two data analytics courses (6 credits) outside of the required MBA core or candidate’s respective specialization curriculum. The Business Analytics certificate is not only an excellent opportunity for students to acquire and utilize data analytical skills, but it also signals to prospective employers that we understand the importance of and are committed to learning data analytics.