- Course: MSc Business Analytics and Decision Sciences
- Year of graduation: 2015
- Nationality: Thai
- Job title: Senior Web/Business Analyst
- Company: Lazada Group
How did you hear about Leeds University Business School and why did you choose to study here?
The first time that I heard about Leeds University Business School was from a friend who had studied here. She told me how much she enjoyed her time here and how it had helped to enrich her understanding of business. I was looking for a combination of a good institute for academic study, excellent social community, and an enjoyable city to live in. Leeds answered all of that.
Tell us about your course – why did you choose it? What elements of the course inspired you to study here?
The reason that I chose the course is because of the growing popularity of business analytics and big data. However, most of the courses on offer focused too much on the analytics part without trying to understand the process of how management would use the findings to make decisions. The MSc Business Analytics and Decision Science programme at Leeds ensured that I would be able to accomplish the entire process of transforming the data into insight and later into action. The combination of the psychology in decision making and business analytics is very interesting and provides a unique skill-set in the current competitive job market.
What was the best part of your studies?
There were many aspects of the degree that I found very pleasant such as: the opportunity to connect with classmates from all over the world who share a similar interest in the area of data analysis and decision science; the introduction and training on various tools that are currently being used by analysts, such as Tableau, R, Gephi, as well as IBM Watson; and the chance to further my learning from leading academic experts such as Professors Bill Gerrard, Alan Pearman and Wandi Bruine de Bruin. I feel very privileged to have worked and studied with them as well as share my passion with the many friends that I made during my time in Leeds.
However, my favourite part of the MSc was the opportunity to visit and converse with experts from leading companies such as First Direct and IBM. It was a chance to learn from real experts, who are working in the field of business analytics, about how the tools and methodology that we had learned in the classroom are applied in real business situations.
What were your career aspirations? Do you think the experience and skills you’ve gained here have helped you in your career plans?
I want to be a business consultant, but not in the usual sense. I would like to use evidence-based decision making stemming from big data analytics to drive innovation in business.
In addition to providing me with the knowledge and skill that I can use in future work, the degree itself has opened doors into the analytics and data science job field for me, as several companies admitted during interviews that there is a real gap in people having these particular skills.
In regard to skills, it is not only the soft skills such as communication and teamwork or the hard skills such as software and psychology, but also my huge improvement in English that has landed me my current role. The improvement of all three qualities is what I have got from my time in Leeds and subsequently what put me on my desired career path.
How has your career progressed since leaving the Business School?
I have recently joined Lazada Group as a Business Analyst. It is South-East Asia’s largest e-commerce player and one of the leading companies that is utilizing data in business decision making. I get to participate in exciting analysis around critical challenges facing e-commerce and provide recommendations for actionable performance improvements. My role is to work with the heads of marketing and management to understand business performance, define key performance metrics and present key insights, trends and recommendations across all marketing channels including Facebook, Google and Instagram as well as across the website customer experience and merchandising organization.
Are there are any examples you could share of working with real-world companies during the course, e.g. company projects, guest lectures with business leaders, other practical experiences?
While the course introduced me to a wide variety of statistical methods, multi-criteria decision analysis, behavioural decision making, and machine learning, there is more to being an efficient business analyst than an understanding of these techniques and knowledge.
I had the privilege of using what I learned in class to consult with a leading supplier of electronic products and maintenance/repair services, Premier Farnell, during the 'Leeds Leader Challenge'. My consulting team tackled the challenge of using big data to generate new sources of revenue for the company. We were able to incorporate web based analytics and the psychology of decision making to produce several approaches of improving revenue by attracting more customers to their website. We also sought to improve their understanding of how the customer moves from one page to another using tools such as Google Analytics and methodologies such as RFM analysis.
If you are not from the UK, how was the transition to a foreign country? Can you offer any advice?
The transition was easier than expected because of the support from the University, particularly the international student office, who provided information and guidance on how to adapt to new life in a new country. One of the biggest challenges in moving from one country to another is being away from your family and friends. However, there are many opportunities to make new friends such as at the Global Café, where you can meet friends from all over the world every week. Orientation week was also tremendously helpful in getting us informed about many issues such as money, accommodation, and food.
What was your experience of the facilities, the staff, your peers, the city of Leeds and the Yorkshire region?
The University and the city of Leeds is an amazing place to live. Leeds as a city is vibrant, friendly, and safe. It is also full of amazing locations to visit such as the Royal Armouries Museum and Kirkstall Abbey as well as the scenery of the Yorkshire Dales. Additionally, if you are a big sport fan like I am, they also have a very good rugby team known as the Leeds Rhinos and the Leeds United Football Club. It’s a great city to experience a traditional British culture as well as a multi-cultural community within the University. The Leeds University Union also organize a wide range of events that allow students to pursue their interests.
Are there any experiences outside of your studies that you have particularly enjoyed?
The Hiking Society was a great way to see the beauty of the Yorkshire Dales. I also highly recommend seeing the local sport teams play at least once. Elland Road and Headingley Carnegie Stadium both provide an electric atmosphere. Leeds Rhinos are one of the top Rugby teams in England and Leeds United has a very rich history.
Would you recommend the Business School to others who are considering studying here?
Yes, I think coming to study at Leeds University Business School is probably one of the best decisions that I have made. It’s a perfect combination of high quality education, great social life, and friendly city. I would highly recommend that anyone who wants to study at postgraduate level to consider Leeds as one of their top options.