Staying current in a rapidly changing field
With the ever-changing landscapes of both the marketing world and data analytics, the curriculum must also evolve to ensure that the skills taught remain current; they must meet the tangible needs of various industries. “If we don’t stay current, we will not be able to survive,” Chakraborty explains. “There I have an advantage. One is a deep connection within SAS.”
Chakraborty, who will chair SAS Global Forum 2018 in Denver, also served on the Steering Committee of JMP Discovery Summit for three years running. Conferences like Discovery and SAS Global Forum, he says, provide an excellent opportunity to foster fruitful industry partnerships: “At conferences, I hear from companies what they’re looking for [in job candidates]. The second advantage is, I’ve been around for a long time.” Having been a pioneer in the intersection of marketing and data science as it pertains to the business world, Chakraborty is well known by a wide cross-section of business leaders, and he uses these relationships to keep abreast of developing needs and trends.
Furthermore, he has an advisory board informing his program, including director-level representatives from big players like Walmart, FedEx and Comcast. “They go through the curriculum and then they tell me, ‘Maybe you need [to add more] training in this area,’” he explains. “There is my advantage. I bring in training on things that most universities can’t think of.”
For example, one of the members of this advisory board recently told Chakraborty that the company needed new hires to have more exposure to Bayesian network analysis. So he called in experts from SAS and delivered a two-day seminar on Bayesian analysis to bring his students up to speed. Chakraborty appreciates the need for continuous adaptation in part, he says, because of his access to people with diverse backgrounds much like his own. “We bring in a lot of folks from the industry itself,” he says. While fellow professors teach many of the core curricula, like information science and statistics, “All these other trainings that we provide are all taught by industry adjuncts. Somebody who comes and teaches data visualization may actually be a director of a company – someone who does that for a living.”
Dr. C’s real-world approach to developing and growing business programs is gaining increasing traction as educators come to see the importance of bridging industry and academia. With more graduates entering the workforce in fulfilling industry careers right out of college, Chakraborty says you need look no further than the data. And, he says, OSU’s MSBAN graduates “are as good as any data scientist you will find.”