MS in Commerce Blog

How My STEM Background Contributes to My Business Degree by Patrick Phibbs (M.S. in Commerce ’21)

The M.S. in Commerce Program brings together students from a variety of majors. Learn how Patrick Phibbs has used his undergraduate experiences in STEM throughout his time at McIntire.

Patrick Phibbs

As a Geology major in college, I was hesitant to move to a graduate business program. After a few weeks in the program, I quickly came to realize that science and business are actually much more closely related than one would think.

As I’ve spent more and more time in the M.S. in Commerce Program at McIntire, I noticed that my data-driven mindset was an advantage. For example, the experience I had with the scientific process allowed me to make business decisions based on data-driven observations. Especially considering the global pandemic and the unpredictability of the economy, it is now more important than ever to utilize data to make strategic decisions.

As a student in the Business Analytics Track, I have been able to study and see how data analytics has changed the way corporations do business, especially with regard to rapidly advancing technology. For example, in the 1980s, companies like IBM and Oracle began to target certain customer segments through the use of data analytics and were then able to utilize this consumer data to make decisions grounded in facts. Data analytics proved to be successful, as IBM and Oracle could reliably predict future customer preferences, optimize value creation, and consistently deliver necessary goods or services to their customers.

McIntire offers many different courses in the Business Analytics Track that introduce students to data decision making, as well as many professors who are very knowledgeable in the subject. Professor Brent Kitchens, Associate Director of the Center for Business Analytics, has been a great resource for me personally. His class, Introduction to Business Analytics, really helped me further understand the importance of data in the business world.

The class also had interesting course assignments, like our final project, in which we used a program called RapidMiner, a data-processing application, to predict the functionality of Tanzanian wells in Africa. Not only were we able to help mitigate the cost of repair, but we also created a model to increase water access for Tanzanian residents.

Overall, I have found that there is a great deal of crossover between my undergraduate STEM studies and the business curriculum I have come to be a part of here at McIntire. It has been really interesting to find intersections between the two fields and to be able to use my knowledge and skill sets in unexpected ways.

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