Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

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Q&A with Ziang, Datathon 2018 participant

Ziang 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?

I signed up to the Rotman MMA Datathon for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I wanted to connect with the faculty at Rotman, to see what the program has to offer and what attributes in a candidate the admission team is looking for. Next, I felt that it would be an amazing experience to put on my resume or simply to tell a story about. Lastly, I wanted to get a feeling of what it is like to work in an analytics job. I suggest anyone interested in pursuing a degree in analytics to take a step forward and find out if they really like the work content and environment they are likely to face every day after they graduate.

Which Datathon did you participate in?

I participated in the On Campus Datathon, and I would suggest anyone who can make it to attend the On Campus one as well.  Honestly, by attending the On Campus Datathon you would get a higher level of interactions, as I mentioned, with the faculty, the work environment, as well as your teammates. In addition, to get a feeling of what it is like to be a Rotman student for one day at the Rotman building would be absolutely worth the time investment. Speaking of which, there is amazing food, drinks, gifts available and free to all On Campus Datathon participants.

Was the event what you expected?

Yes, except that the case used at the Datathon was more serious than I expected, being a real problem faced by the industry. Another surprise I didn’t expect is that we have not only the opportunity to connect with the academia, but also a chance to hear from industry experts and connect with them.

What were your fellow participants like? 

Participants have very diverse backgrounds, either in terms of education or years of work experience.

Analytics is just applied in every field nowadays, in political science to predict election poll, in psychology to conduct research, in finance to detect fraud and more. By attending the Datathon, participants with any background or experience striving not to be left behind in the workplace should get a feeling of what big data analytics is capable of after attending this event. 

What was your highlight of the event?

Definitely the teamwork environment we created throughout the Datathon. Since our team was formed, we stuck together and complemented each other’s skills. As the one in our group with less technical background, I took more of a supportive and planning role. Having no previous experience in this type of event, I felt trusted and relied on by our team members. Every single one of us was highly engaged in a shared goal which enabled us to work in an extremely cooperative and efficient manner.

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

A huge impact. Only during the Datathon have I learned that I really enjoy working with data in a team and I truly wish to pursue a career in similar settings. I have also learned during the event that the program not only prepares you to be a data scientist, but it also opens more opportunities to strategic type of roles which is a huge plus for someone who graduated from finance like myself.

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

Management Analytics is such a highly interdisciplinary subject, it would be the best that your team could have a statistician, a computer scientist, someone with subject-matter expertise on the actual problem you will be working on, and most importantly, someone with leadership acumen to make sure everyone is working on things they are actually good at. On the other hand, take time seriously. Don’t be too concerned with complicated models, telling a good story with data is more important than anything. Lastly, there is no standard answer to the case just as with every other real-life problem, so be confident with your solution and get the best out of it.

Anything else you want to add about the event?

One of my most memorable and valuable moments during the Datathon was the talk with Professor Krass, the academic director of the MMA program. Professor Krass gave me lots of suggestions based on my background, as well as answered a lot of my concerns for a career in management analytics.

One of the key takeaways is that data analytics should be seen as a tool to transform raw data into actionable solutions, and it is always more important to ask the right question before you can have a solution.

I strongly encourage everyone attending the event to speak to Professor Krass and take a few moments to really absorb his words.

Register Now: MMA Datahons 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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