Analytical literacy and tech savvy are becoming indispensable traits of the modern decision maker, and tomorrow’s business leaders have taken notice. Parasvil Patel and Shaan Gandhi are rising second-year business students and the co-presidents of the Business Analytics and Data Club, a student organization at Harvard Business School.
The club was founded by students in the class of 2014 and just completed its first full academic year of activity. The club’s mission is to provide a platform for sharing the skills and knowledge that are required to survive and thrive in the world of data-driven decision making. Patel and Gandhi are working to carve out a place for analytical technology education in the jam-packed schedules of top-tier business students.
“We are working to gain momentum in the student community,” says Patel. “Our workshops and training sessions have been successful and the school has been supportive of our efforts. We now also have a team member dedicated to working with professors. Our biggest challenge is the HBS calendar; there is so much happening all the time that we have to compete with.”
The club’s first event was a panel discussion on big data. The organizers brought in professionals that represent the different perspectives on big data within an organization.
The club aims to develop business leaders that are comfortable with analytical tools. Patel and Gandhi want to combat the notion that MBAs don’t know how to work with data. Endeavors range from SQL education and basic data querying to complex data blending and advanced analytics.
Gandhi said, “For MBA students to be fully competent today, and make the best decisions possible, they need to have an understanding of the types of data and tools that are out there and the benefits of analyzing that data. Wherever they go after graduation, they will always know that if there is a way to collect and analyze data, it will help them make better decisions.”
Gandhi is a medical student in addition to an MBA candidate. He looks at the use of analytics in the clinic and believes there is an inadequate understanding of how embracing data can benefit healthcare as an industry. The club organized a panel last year introducing students to startups in Boston using analytical tools to change how healthcare is practiced. Another such panel is planned for the coming year.
For more on the importance of big data analytics, read the Aberdeen report Big Data Perspectives: Users vs. IT.