Management Analytics Practicum January Presentations
This month, MMA students presented their work from the first term on the Management Analytics Practicum to a panel of faculty, current practitioners and their classmates. Since September, students have been working on the practicum in groups of three or four students. The practicum is a key part of the program and is an opportunity for students to engage with a real-world business problem. Students are paired with top-tier organizations and give a complex business issue to solve. This year, students have been working with companies such as TD, Unilever, Canadian Tire, North York General, RBC and more.
The challenge of the practicum is to devise an analytical approach by solving a given managerial issue. Next, the group must present a design for the analytical data set and model development, and finally execute and present results.
Condensing the practicum presentation
Groups had around 5 minutes to explain to peers and judges how they approached the managerial problem they have been set. This followed a 40-45-minute presentation that students made to the companies they partnered with. The unique challenge was ensuring that groups were able to summarize what’s crucial by identifying the correct audience for each presentation.
“The 40-45-minute presentation to the company was easier to do since the companies understand the problem, we were able to explain everything in a complete way, including all the proposed solutions. Shifting the presentation down to 5 minutes was challenging because not only do we have to condense 3 months of work in a few minutes, but we also have to understand what’s important to be mentioned and what’s not relevant. We had to ensure to properly explain the problem to the rest of the class, as well as to condense our solution in an easy to digest and simplified way that everyone is able to understand in 5 minutes. “– Sumiran, MMA ‘20
While all of the projects offered a similar level of complexity, the questions they were asked to solve were all unique, so it was an opportunity for the students to learn more about what their classmates are working on. Since students were randomly assigned groups as well as companies to work with, there were many interesting stories and insights that arose from this experience.
Working together to solve real-life business problems
The teams presented the outline for their projects, laying out an analytic approach on how they wanted to address the problem at hand. While all of the projects were unique, each had a similar level of complexity.
Students had to develop effective techniques for communicating with their business counterparts, as well as providing interim updates on the project progress and challenges.
Academic Director of the MMA Program, Professor Dmitry Krass emphasized the uniqueness of project, in which students were expected to deal with a messier managerial issue than the ones encountered in class. This opened the possibility of competing approaches and explanations. In this way, it represented what the MMA had set out to achieve: giving students the capability of analyzing and interpreting data in order to solve business problems.
"Our practicum projects are much more similar to a real-life consulting project. The program is about management analytics, not just about analytics in an abstract way to execute a task, it's analytics brought to bear on real life management decisions." -Professor Krass
What our students have to say:
Sherry MMA ’20: “I noticed that what is taught in academics sometimes differs on what I am required to know in the industry. Once you start working, you notice that there are many more skills you are required to have that isn’t always taught in the classroom such as presentation and project management skills. While it’s been great to apply the knowledge that I learned in lectures into the real world, there’s a lot of experience I gained from participating in the practicum that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise in the classroom.”
Madhusoodhanan MMA’ 20: “Our experience so far has been trying to find a middle balance between the technical aspects and the managerial solution. We also have been focusing on not diving too deep into the technical aspects, rather focusing on creating a solution in a managerial context. Throughout the project, I realized that apart from the analytics, it’s very important to have a managerial background and being able to explain what the data is saying. I’ve been focusing on solving the problem with the company, by thinking about how the company and managers would use our solution and implement it, rather than solving the solution for myself.”
Sourav MMA ‘20: “The practicum so far has been amazing. It took some time to understand the business problem but slowly with the help of the managers and TA’s, they were able to help our team narrow our focus on the practicum. Pulling the latest data and understanding existing data, while also focusing on the key parts has been an important part of it as well. My team’s problem involves working with a bank to solve a managerial problem in which we use internal data to predict external economic indicators.”
Saxam MMA’ 20: “It’s been great to experience the practicum as not all programs receive the chance to work with a company for 8 months. My advice to future students would be to go with the flow, and try to fully understand the data given to you from the project. Try and focus in on the practicum rather than simply focusing on your personal projects, its crucial to find a balance between the two. I realized that a lot of the real-world experiences comes from these types of projects and working together with your team and managers at the company assigned. During the practicum there were also lots of opportunities to network with employees and build a network as we go. We had a good chance to talk to managers and learn more about how they use the tools, how they run their day to day business, and how would they’d like to change it. The presentation to the company itself was really important because there we have to really explain why we’re doing this project, what can be improved, and how we’ll change it. We often had to ask ourselves; with running the business how they are now, why should they change and how would they implement this change.”
The practicum project represents the essence of Rotman’s Master of Management Analytics. It gives students the chance of combining quantitative analysis, collaboration, and communication all within a real-world project. It allows students to bridge the gap between data analytics and managerial skills, an important skill required in the workforce.
The Master of Management Analytics is designed to give students the advanced data management, analytics, and communication skills needed to become an analytics professional.