Haley Hubbard (’14),works at Vendor Registry in Knoxville, TN, as the director of business analytics. The majority of her work involves analytics including visualization, light analyses, A/B testing, development of company-wide KPIs, and customer segmentation. “Prior to earning a Master of Science in Business Analytics, I had earned a bachelors from UT in accounting and attended the University of Texas to obtain my masters in professional accounting,” Hubbard says. “After earning these accounting degrees, I worked in forensics services at PwC in New York for three years and Dallas for two.”
The majority of Hubbard’s work at PwC focused on white collar crime investigation. “This is where I discovered my love of disparate data analyses, “ she says. “I recognized that the wave of the future in almost every profession is to have strong analytics skills in addition to your initial focus and made the decision to return to school for another degree.”
Hubbard discusses her current project that intertwines with analytics: “Initially, we wanted to visualize the data to see what is going on in our environment. From there, we began testing many different scenarios and measuring the impact. For example, we have tested website layout, paths through our system, marketing content, subject lines, etc. Our company takes a scientific approach to decision making, opting for testing hypotheses to see which solution produces the desired result. We have used many sources of data including customer inputted, company generated, financial, email activity, and web traffic data for these analyses. Being a startup company, one of our challenges is not having much data for our analyses. This is a challenge we continue to fight. However, we have approached our data gathering with a forward thinking mindset considering the types of questions we would like to answer.
Her role with Vendor Registry has given Hubbard the opportunity to make strategic business decisions using analytics and see those decisions through from concept to execution. “I hope to continue to have these experiences as our company grows and to begin using some predictive modeling to answer some of our questions” she says. “My hopes for my career are to run an organization or department using a variety of skills but driven by data-based decisions.”
UT: So why did you choose the University of Tennessee?
Hubbard: When I realized that I needed to add more tools to my tool belt, I began researching what my next steps should be, whether within PwC or externally. I researched various degree programs and ultimately chose UT’s Master of Science in Business Analytics because of its focus on application of statistical methods in business. At the time, other programs focused heavily on statistical methods with no emphasis on business. This was the right choice for what I wanted to do. My degree has helped me in numerous ways, but I think the most important impact has been how to question data. Understanding the business need and knowing what data and in what form I need it has helped me to not only ask the questions but answer them as well.
UT: What is your favorite part of the MSBA program?
Hubbard: I have two favorite parts of the MSBA program. I enjoyed the teamwork demanded of the students and the involvement of the faculty. I knew coming into this program that I had many strengths but also many weaknesses that I needed to strengthen. What I learned was that all of my classmates had the same issue but with a variety of strengths. Forcing us to work as teams allowed us to learn from each other in addition to what we learned in the classroom. Specifically, my programming skills improved significantly by working with team members who knew more than I did. Additionally, the faculty’s interest in our education and success was a benefit I was not expecting. My classmates and I often found it helpful to work in the department because our faculty was easily accessible and would often come sit at tables with us to review our questions. The mixture of helping us and forcing us to help ourselves was balanced very well.