Alumni Guest Blog: Su Zhou, ’15 MS Business Analytics

The following blog post was written by Su Zhou, a 2015 graduate of the MS in Business Analytics program and assurance associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers in New York City. 

There is a Chinese proverb: “Better to step back and make a net than to stand by the pond and long for a fish.” As part of my job as an assurance associate at PwC in New York, I face the daily challenge of analyzing a large volume of financial data and spotting anomalies in order to make informed decisions. Complex data structures have increased at such a rapid pace that it has made the traditional, “back-of-envelope” calculation method obsolete. With only an accounting background from under graduate school, I realized that an advanced degree in data analytics might be crucial to my career in order for me to catch that “big fish.”

Su Zhou, '15 MS Business Analytics

Su Zhou, ’15 MS Business Analytics

At the time that I applied, few top tier schools offered Business Analytics programs. Simon’s one-year MS program builds on its tradition of creating a strong quantitative foundation for its students. My favorite class at Simon was Advanced Business Modeling with Professor Vera Tilson. In this class, Professor Tilson taught us how to simplify complicated real world problems into clear and concise models and how to use Excel Solver to identify efficient solutions. Just like any other Simon class, the goal is never memorizing a formula, but instead building a strong connection between theory and practice. Coming to business school with full-time work experience, I had a special appreciation for this approach.

My most memorable time at Simon was the winter quarter when I worked full time during the busy season at PwC in New York and flew twice a week to Rochester for classes. I also kept my job as a graduate assistant at the Simon Admissions Office during the weekend while passing my last part of the CPA exam. Looking back at those three months, I grew a profound appreciation of the Simon spirit “Toughen Up” which resonated with me when I first laid my eyes on the program. It is a common trait I notice on all of my classmates who successfully land an offer: Stick-to-itiveness when facing a strong head wind in today’s competitive job market.

It is merely wishful thinking to expect to learn everything about a field with one year of study or to have a dream job delivered to your doorstep in a gift basket simply because you send one résumé. It sometimes takes much trial and error to move one step ahead, but with a Simon education, we are way ahead of our peers as long as we have the right attitude. Simon empowers its students with not only a vast body of knowledge that provides a pathway to further career advancement but also a strong belief that with determination and perseverance, they can achieve any goal that was once considered formidable.

Simon attracts the most talented and most ambitious future leaders. For anyone considering a graduate program, it is an investment that bears a fruitful payout. Simon is not a destination but a starting point where we embark upon a wonderful journey for years to come. If I could go back in time to last spring, I would choose Simon again in a heartbeat.

I came to Simon for one fish, but instead, I was taught how to cast a net.

To learn more about Simon’s Business Analytics program, attend our MS in Business Analytics Information Session at 9 a.m. EST on Jan. 13, 2016. A member from the Simon Admissions Team will facilitate a panel discussion with faculty advisors of the MS in Business Analytics Program and a current Business Analytics student. During this interactive webinar you will learn about the program structure, course offerings, and career outcomes. You may submit a question when you register for the webinar, and we will also facilitate a Q&A session during the live session. This webinar is free, but pre-registration is required.

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