Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

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Eric participated in the second Rotman MMA on-campus Datathon and joined the MMA class which started in August 2019.

What made you decide to sign up to the Rotman MMA Datathon in 2018?

My interest in the MMA program had been growing for about 8 months prior to the Rotman MMA Datathon. Although the webinars and in-person information sessions provided a lot of great information about the program, the Datathon presented a more hands on opportunity to get a sense of what a, “day in the life” of an MMA student may look like. In particular, I was interested in the prospect of interacting with the administration and prospective MMA candidates in a more natural environment.

…I would be lying if I said the chance at a scholarship and eternal glory didn’t sweeten the deal.

Was the event what you expected?

I was very impressed by the turn out for the event. Given that the MMA was a new program at Rotman I was surprised by the number of people in attendance and I think this added to the overall quality of the event. With a large group of diverse participants, there were many creative approaches of interacting with the dataset. This drove interesting analysis and conversations that challenged your own ideas and beliefs about the dataset.

What were your fellow participants like?

Everyone participating in the Datathon came from such a diverse background that it really kept things interesting. There was representation from both current undergrad students and professionals working in industry, each having their own strengths across a spectrum of statistics, data analysis, public speaking and big picture thinking. The administration did a great job balancing out the teams to make sure there was a blend of these skill sets represented. Above all, everyone that I spoke to was friendly and curious to learn more about data and analytics, without making the event into a cutthroat competition. 

What was your highlight of the event?

The MMA Datathon presents an opportunity to explore new topics and techniques that you may not get to use every day in your professional or academic life. Nerdy as it may be, I really enjoyed the lead up to the Datathon and the warm up questions provided with the dataset. I had the chance to familiarize myself with a new Python library that I had never heard of, and learn more about the application of analytics within the geo-spatial domain.

In addition to the skills I learned through this event, it was very valuable to spend more time within the Rotman School of Management and get a better sense of the culture within the program. Fostering this connection with the school made the application process very approachable, and established a channel of communication that allowed me to reach out to the administration with any questions I had throughout the application process.

How much of an impact did it make in your decision to choose the MMA program?

The MMA Datathon opened the door for me to reach out to key people within the MMA program (both administration and alumni) and set up time to speak with them more in depth about what the MMA program is all about. Through these discussions, I was able to confirm that the Rotman MMA was the right choice for me given my experiences and future goals.

What advice/tips would you give to someone taking part in our Datathon in 2019?

First, treat the MMA Datathon as a learning experience and a chance to break out of your comfort zone. Whether its programing, public speaking or making small talk, we all have strengths and areas where we can improve. Use the Datathon as a low risk environment to grow these skills for yourself. If you can do this, you’ve already won.

You won’t have all the answers, but you’ll be more successful the more you explore and experiment. Play around with the data sets when they are released, and try to develop some insights and observations that you find interesting. 

Last, you don’t need to be a data scientist to be successful. Excel, SQL, Python; all these tools will work fine. You are better off using a pivot table or a GROUP BY statement than trying to learn the most cutting-edge machine-learning library the night before the event. 

Final thoughts

Take the opportunity to meet with MMA students and alumni during the networking portion of the event. These people can give you an idea as to what the program is all about and where it can take you.

If you are on the fence about participating in the Datathon, or perhaps not completely confident in your data analysis skills, don’t worry, you are one of many. Come give it a shot, you’ll surprise yourself and grow a lot in the process.

Register now: Rotman Datathons 2019


The Master of Management Analytics is designed to give students the advanced data management, analytics and communication skills needed to become an analytics professional in 9 months.

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