Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

Main Content

Processing. Please wait.

An exciting challenge

Rotman’s first MMA Online Datathon – which took place from September 20 to September 26 – tasked groups from around the world to apply their managerial, analytical, and communication skills to develop a strategy for a contemporary challenge facing businesses: customer retention.

Participants were assigned to submit a PowerPoint presentation to a panel of expert judges who evaluated the strategies of each team based on their effectiveness, technical correctness, and the quality and clarity of the presentation.

Academic Director Dmitry Krass – Professor of Operations Management and Statistics and one of the three judges on the panel – described the Datathon as an opportunity to construct a ‘pro-active retention strategy in a realistic managerial setting’.

“The teams had one week to understand the case and the provided data set, deal with typical data issues of incomplete records and questionable values, build analytical models and business strategies, and present their results on just 10 slides.”

The first-place winners of the Datathon were given a $2,000 CAD entry award to the MMA program applicable for August 2019 entry, while the second and third place winners were awarded $1,000 CAD and $500 CAD respectively.

What did the winners learn?

Two teams managed to attain first-place: Team “UvicPsu” and Team “D.” Team “D” was made up of participants who registered individually and were grouped together based on their skillset. Coming from different backgrounds, the team recognized that clear communication was an essential rule in order for them to understand each other. 

This rule not only applied to our PowerPoint presentation that each sentence must be understandable and meaningful to CEOs, but also applied to our team communication that every [word of] jargon must be translated to plain language that everyone can understand, since we were in 3 different fields of study.

Arka Basu – a member of Team “D” – particularly appreciated the diversity of his team and all the participants. 

“The most important takeaway from the Datathon is of working with people from diverse backgrounds. I am a SAP BI developer and my team members were Analyst and Auditor respectively.  In the Datathon we had people participating from various fields like Engineering, Commerce, Mathematics, Science and even Social studies.”

Arka enjoyed collaborating with his teammates, who were complete strangers to him before the event. While challenging, it pushed him to have a new perspective on the importance of collaboration. 

Working with like-minded people who are unknown to you for an event as important and as big like this, is always challenging and interesting.

Important takeaways from participants

Participants in the event valued the opportunity to learn more about the skills required for the MMA program and believed that the Datathon served as an inspiration to build up their own analytical skills. Even within the atmosphere of an online setting, collaboration and communication was crucial.

“I think this is really a good opportunity for me to know more about data analysis. I got inspired by my teammates and other participants when I was reading the discussion board.” 

Many groups recognized how the Datathon pushed them to ‘think differently.’ In this regard, the Datathon was a microcosm of the skills taught within the Master of Management Analytics. One participant in particular commented on the necessity of data in the context of an increasingly digitized world.

I can see that there are still many skills I need to learn. One business problem can be analyzed from different aspects, but which one is the best way? It is very interesting to solve the business problem based on powerful data!

Participants acknowledged the importance of time management. Others appreciated the authenticity of the case and its applicability in the workplace. For them, the Datathon was a chance to acquire a different understanding of analytics. 

“It helps one develop an analytical perspective towards real life case scenarios, and also teaches one to complete tasks in a given period of time by developing a schedule.”

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)