Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

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Using data to solve managerial problems

This is one of the key aims of our new Master of Management Analytics (MMA) program, and was the basis of our first program Datathon.

Held on November 3rd and 4th, the Datathon introduced prospective students to the analytic community at Rotman, with the event also being the formal launch for the program, starting in August 2018.

The 2 day event was held in partnership with the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (MAESD), who provided the case, and SAS Canada. Teams worked in 2 or 3, some formed by themselves, and some formed by MMA team from individual entrants.

What all the teams had in common was their passion to use analytics to develop solutions.

Day 1 - the briefing, SAS workshop and solving the problem

On Friday the participants were introduced to the case though a briefing by the Assistant Deputy Minister, David Carter-Whitney. ADM Carter-Whitney spoke to the participants about the need for analytics in policy development, how this case was a real scenario for MAESD and that they were struggling with solutions.

The case

A 2016 annual report of the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario identified some key areas for MASED to improve on, in particular the factors for low completion rates of apprenticeship programs. It was a recommendation for MAESD for the year of 2017, that they take steps to increase the completion rates of these apprenticeship programs.

Learning about the technology

Following the briefing on the case, SAS Canada came to give a workshop on their Viya Platform that could be used to help visual their work in the presentation submission. The SAS team worked with students in both the lecture style and on an individual needed basis.

As the excitement of the competition was building there was a couple of bumps along the way. Due to issues beyond our control, there were two fire alarms. Lucky for us, it was a beautiful sunny day!  

Working on the solution

Back on track after the fire alarms teams moved to their designated study rooms. Equipped with whiteParticipants in a study room working on their solution boards, monitors to display their work and a goodie bag of snacks, coffee cards and water bottles, the participants started their work. To help them frame the case, seven Rotman Faculty coaches visited with the teams. With 20 minute timeslots, the coaches helped the participants keep on track with how they would approach the problem, what data to consider and what steps to take.

As well, MAESD provided a resource for questions. Phil Dilts was on hand to answer questions about equations, missing data and what assumptions could be made. (Check out his twitter feed for his live tweeting of Day 2 of the event).

The participants worked diligently through the afternoon and evening. There were some last minute questions to Phil, our MASED resource, and to Dylan working remotely with SAS. Regression models, charts, equations, questions about what solutions could be were flying. Teams worked hard, eventually submitting their presentations by the 9pm deadline.

You can read about day 2 of the event in our next blog post.

View more images from Datathon 2017.

The Master of Management Analytics is designed to give students the advanced data management, analytics and communication skills needed to become an analytics professional.

© Rotman School of ManagementThe Rotman School of Management is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AASCB)