Where Are They Now? Spotlight on MMA Alumni Professionals with STEM Backgrounds

Learn about a few of our Master of Management in Analytics (MMA) students and their experiences in the program.

Jake HoganJake Hogan (MMA’21)

Data Scientist, Amazon Twitch
Experiential Client: Loblaws

Jake Hogan (MMA’21) began the Master of Management in Analytics fresh out of his undergraduate degree. While completing the final year of his Bachelor of Economics at McGill, he began putting feelers out for potential roles and reaching out to McGill alumni to get a sense of where he might want to end up. One alum, a data scientist, got him thinking about a career in data analytics.

“He was telling me about the field and said, basically, ‘I think that this would be a field that you would really like,’ and that gave me kind of some direction in that sense,” he explained. “So, I started looking into it a little bit more.”

Knowing the field would require some additional skills, he looked into different options for analytics degrees and happened upon the McGill Desautels MMA. Attracted by the program’s robust experiential learning component and feeling like it would be a natural transition as he was already studying at McGill, he applied and was accepted.

“Having the experiential components with the big capstone projects was really helpful,” he said. Even in all the courses just having project-focused work was something that I really enjoyed. I feel like you're able to learn a lot more about it and then come time to be interviewing for jobs, it makes it a lot easier to be able to point to projects that you've done.”

Hogan completed his experiential project with Loblaws, Canada’s largest food retailer, helping to meet their unique data analytics needs.

It was great to be able to look at a big problem and try and figure out what different skills that we learned so far could be applied and how,” he said.

Having this experience under his belt when applying for roles after graduation was invaluable, Hogan explained. Being able to bring forth the fact that in addition to the relevant technical skills, he had real-world experience and knew how to apply his knowledge in a business setting.

“When they're trying to hire like a data analyst, or data scientists, they're ultimately looking for someone that's going to be able to add value to the organization,” he said.

In his current role as a data scientist at Amazon’s Twitch, Hogan says he applies the knowledge and experience gained through the MMA on a daily basis, citing that his time in the program really helped him to be able to frame problems and explain technical concepts to those who with non-technical backgrounds.

“That’s something that at Twitch, I'm doing a lot,” he said. “I think that this program does a great job of being able to give people the opportunity to work on that skill, being able to interact with other people and explain these technical things that you're learning in a digestible manner.”

Sophie Courtemanche-MartelSophie Courtemanche-Martel (MMA’21)

Business Intelligence Analyst, Altitude Sports
Experiential Client: Loblaws

While completing her Bachelor of Science in Global Nutrition at McGill, Sophie Courtemanche-Martel (MMA’21) took a class that used data to make decisions in nutrition and public health policies.

"It sort of piqued my interest and I knew I wanted to pursue my studies afterwards,” she said.

While she considered a Master of Public Health, she found that McGill Desautels Master of Management in Analytics offered a more robust look at the technical skills and business knowledge she was looking for.

One thing that stood out to her during her time in the program was how much she loved the people she met throughout her experience.

“All the teachers that I had, I could say were my favorite or best teachers I've ever had through my education as a whole,” she said, adding that she appreciated how passionate her professors were about the material. “The administrative staff was amazing as well. We have this amazing team [in the MMA] that just are there to help us in any way and want to make sure we succeed along the way. Then, of course, the fellow students, I think we were a very unique group of students coming from all these different backgrounds”

The experiential component was another big draw for Courtemanche-Martel, who said this was the module that taught her the most out of anything in the program. She was able to spend eight months working with Loblaws’ digital team, where she assisted with marketing intelligence, data science and demand generation.

“It was also working with big data and in the cloud environment which was truly amazing,” she said. “It is the reality in an industry setting and in the professional setting right now. I think no matter where you learn your theory, the real test of what you've actually learned is what you can put into practice.”

This experience helped her to beef up her resume when applying for jobs post-graduation, she said, adding that although this project is a component of the master’s program, it counts as professional experience and still holds value in the eye of any employer.

“In this day and age, being able to leverage big data like that is very, very valuable and I think that's what people are looking for when they're interviewing for business analysts or data analysts,” she said. “That was good to have going into these interviews and being able to say, ‘I've worked with big data; I know how to use it.’”

Now, in her role as a business intelligence analyst at Altitude Sports, a Montreal-based e-commerce leader playing at the intersection between fashion and the outdoors, she leverages those skills on a day-to-day basis.

“What I learned through the capstone first, dealing with internal stakeholders, understanding their business needs and how to answer their business questions is definitely something I do now with Altitude,” she explained, adding that she also acquired the ability to use data to tell a larger story, or to illustrate the outcome or solution to a problem. Something she learned in the experiential project specifically was data architecture, which means she not only has the necessary skills to be a business analyst, but a data engineer as well. “All these bigger skills that I acquired with Loblaws, or through the program, I can definitely apply on a day-to-day basis.”

Overall, Courtemanche-Martel is grateful for this program and the versatility it provides, she said.

“It's so worth it. Data is everywhere now and any skills that allow you to deal with data, understand data or play with data is useful in any domain,” she said. “Whether you're coming from a science background, and you still want to stay in science, afterwards, those skills will be applicable to science, but also to all these different industries and settings. It will open all your doors and that is truly valuable.”

Duncan WangDuncan Wang (MMA’21)

Data Analyst, Mistplay
Experiential Client: Pratt & Whitney

Another McGill graduate, Duncan Wang (MMA’21) joined the MMA program after completing his Bachelor of Arts and Science, where he majored in sustainability sciences with a minor in geographic information systems.

"One of the biggest motivators for me to pursue a master's degree was the fact that I didn't feel like my undergrad degree was concrete enough,” he explained. “Oftentimes, when you're in non-technical degrees or an undergrad in general, you are exposed to a lot of theories and ideas, which is really cool but you're not necessarily given enough skills that could be applied to a real industry scenario.”

Looking for a way to complement his undergraduate degree to pursue a career related to what he studied, he began exploring more technical skills through research and working in a biology lab, doing experimental biology research on fish. However, he still felt like he was missing some of those soft skills that a technical program like the MMA can provide and didn’t feel like he would be able to just jump into a career without adding something more to his toolbelt.

Coming from a very theoretical background, Wang tried to prepare himself ahead of time for the more technical aspects of the program to sort of ease that transition from his undergrad to his master’s.

“I really tried to catch myself up by reading a lot online, just watching videos,” he said. “I was [at the time] also working at a research lab and continued doing so for about eight months, so I used that also as an opportunity to brush up on my stats and other skills.”

Wang expressed that he most appreciated the emphasis on experiential and project work and especially the independence given to the students with these modules, which allowed him to integrate sustainability considerations into his work.

“There were opportunities for me to bring sustainability back into the conversation,” he said. “For example, I wrote this article on this model that I made, which was designed to be able to recognize different pieces of recyclable versus non-recyclable trash, and then be able to classify them.”

One of the highlights of his time with the program, he said, was the experiential project with Pratt & Whitney Canada, an aerospace engineering manufacturer.

“It really allowed me to build a solution from the ground up,” he said. “Now that I am in the industry, it was a relatively accurate representation of how business analytics issues are solved in practice.”

Having this concrete experience going into job search mode towards the end of the degree was useful to Wang as he came into the program without any analytics-specific industry experience. Being able to bring forward examples of how he had applied certain techniques and tools during the eight months working with Pratt & Whitney Canada was just the leverage he needed to land his role as a data analyst at Mistplay, a Montreal-based mobile gaming loyalty platform.

In his role, he credits the MMA with giving him the soft skills necessary to thrive in a startup-like environment—Mistplay has just 70 employees.

“I think I realized businesses don't just do analyses because they're fun, but because it's tied to a key metric, or there's a value-added opportunity somewhere,” he explained. “I'm working at a relatively young company so a lot of times, there's also not a clear roadmap of how to approach things. My manager is not going to tell me ‘You do XYZ.’ You have to be very proactive about understanding how things work.”

Arnaud Guzman-AnnèsArnaud Guzman-Annès (MMA’21)

Test Development Engineer, Pratt & Whitney Canada
Experiential Client: BDC

With a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in aerospace, aeronautical and astronautical engineering, it seemed like Arnaud Guzman-Annès was already all set for a promising career in aerospace engineering. But, while interning for Pratt & Whitney Canada in 2019, he began to feel as though he was missing some of the more technical data analytics skills that would really help him in his field.

Looking into potential options for a second master’s degree, he considered another degree geared more toward aerospace technology, but ultimately felt that the broader scope of the McGill Desautels Master of Management in Analytics would offer a more diverse application should he decide to venture beyond aerospace engineering later on in his career.

“We were a very nice cohort,” he said. “We had to work a lot in teams, and that helped us to meet new people and learn a lot from different backgrounds. Besides the technical aspect of the program, I feel that was something very, very useful.”

During his capstone project with BDC, a government-owned national development bank, Guzman-Annès said he was able to work with a team of six, applying the knowledge he gained in class in a more concrete, hands-on way. More specifically, he led a team of three within the larger group in the modeling area, learning how to create and apply machine learning models in order to calculate customer metrics.

“That helped me to get my internship here at Autodesk [after graduation] in August,” he said. “I talked about the different tasks I had to do back then in the capstone, but also how I had to deal with other people in order to accomplish certain tasks and get them done.”

After four months interning for Autodesk, he found himself at his old stomping grounds—Pratt & Whitney Canada, where he now works as a test development engineer. While the technology and programs he is working now with are not the same as what he learned within the MMA, he credits the program with providing him with the valuable soft skills he uses daily.

“The sense of how to deal with data and understand the architecture behind it, let's say when you're working with large amounts of data and building pipelines--that's definitely a plus to have” he explained. “It's something that you learn throughout, and when I was telling you that you meet a lot of new people from different backgrounds, different cultures--creating your network and talking with people definitely helps you to be more proficient with all these different soft skills.”

Ultimately, he feels the MMA offered just what he was looking for.

“It's an asset that is definitely useful to have,” he said. “Even if I might not be using that directly [in a data analytics or business analyst role], it's definitely going to be useful in the short and in the long term.”

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