The Goizueta Business School has partnered with FedEx in a five-year, $1 million agreement to advance the Business School’s first STEM program, a master of science in business analytics (MSBA) program, which was launched this fall.
With 37 students enrolled for the first year, the 10-month master’s degree program seeks to foster “business data scientists” who will use their knowledge of management, computer science and applied statistics to focus on data-driven decision making and solutions to business problems, Associate Dean and MSBA Academic Director Ramnath Chellappa said.
FedEx approached Emory about the partnership, Chellappa said. After FedEx engaged with Goizueta by supporting a series of recruiting activities, including veterans’ and women’s events in 2016, FedEx and Goizueta had conversations about collaborating on data analysis and operations, according to a Nov. 7 statement from Goizueta Business School Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Angela Bostick sent to the Wheel by Goizueta Business School Senior Communications Manager J. Michael Moore.
The Business School announced the partnership with FedEx in a Nov. 1 press release. FedEx was interested in being involved in the overall education process as well as hiring students with data analytics skills, according to Chellappa. FedEx will work with the MSBA class of 2018 to provide business problems and data for the students to work with, and business managers will work with students on projects, Chellappa said.
“We are excited to team up with a Top-20 business school to train the next generation of business professionals with strong technical and quantitative skills who will help continue to evolve the way analytics are used in the 21st century,” FedEx Vice President of Operations Analysis Donald Comer wrote in a Nov. 7 statement to the Wheel.
All 11 courses in the MSBA program are taught by faculty members in the Business School, and the curriculum includes machine learning, decision theory and data visualization. The program has a total of nine courses with eight predetermined courses and two electives for a total of 31 credit hours. FedEx and the Business School will jointly develop initiatives, including job recruiting access, data for student projects, conferences and a scholarship, according to the press release. The details of the scholarship, such as the amount of money awarded, will be announced at a later time.
“One of the problems in the real world is that technology people, business people and data people don’t communicate very well with each other,” Chellappa said. “This program helps to bridge the divide by empowering a new type of professional, one able to speak and operate in all business data dialects.”
The program combines the fields of management, information systems/computer sciences and applied statistics, according to the Business School website.
MSBA students hold undergraduate degrees in various fields, such as economics, business, math, engineering and computer science. No work experience is required to participate in the program, according to the website. The MSBA program seeks to prepare students to enter any field of business analytics, including banking, health analytics and sports analytics, according to Chellappa.
Chellappa said he has has been building the program for the past three years, working with other faculty in Business School’s Information Systems and Operations Management (ISOM) Department.
The program begins with a “pre-fall term” that involves three different boot camps in math, technology and business, as well as a course in business statistics. The boot camps are worth zero credits while the statistics course is worth three credits. The classes are meant to prepare students for the fall and spring semesters, according to Chellappa. At the end of the spring semester, students will participate in a capstone course for “experiential learning,” during which they will analyze publicly available data from firms as well as private data and present their findings directly to the firms at the end of the program.
The University of Texas at Austin and Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) offer similar data analytics programs. Georgia Tech’s program is focused more on engineering, while Emory’s program is business driven, according to Chellappa.
Business School Dean Erika James said she was excited to partner with FedEx in a meaningful way, according to the press release.
“I believe business schools should be in service to the business community and strive for mutually beneficial relationships that bring together student talent to address real problems in the field,” James said. “This agreement with FedEx fits that mold perfectly.”
Nikhil Chalakkal (18MSBA) said the MSBA program successfully trains people in business, technology and data science.
“The inaugural class is learning some really cool, really exciting things, and FedEx signing on as a partner for five years is an endorsement of the fact that the business world requires these skills in a big way in the future,” Chalakkal said.