Ying Zhou

Programme: MSc Business Analytics (on-campus, full-time) 2016

Nationality: Chinese

Study mode: On campus, full-time

Undergraduate education: BA (Hons) Linguistics and Sociology, The University of Manchester

MSc Business Analytics (on-campus, full-time)

Academic and industry experience before Imperial College Business School

What work experience/internships did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School? Or did you join MSc Business Analytics straight after your undergraduate degree?

I joined MSc Business Analytics straight after my undergraduate degree.

Why did you choose to study a Master’s in Business Analytics? Why specifically at Imperial College Business School?

During my undergraduate study of Linguistics and Sociology, I read and wrote essays with a variety of topics, and I found that those that are backed up with data-oriented methodology and logical analysis are the most compelling ones. Data can be used to prove a sociological or linguistic hypotheses, it can also be used to drive business decisions and that’s the reason why I turned my focus to Business Analytics. Imperial stands out for me not only because its top academic ranking but also because the way that it structured the courses are very much technical-focused, which will highly improve my competency within the job market.

Studying MSc Business Analytics

What skills did you learn on MSc Business Analytics?

Basically all the main technical and statistical skills I need for my first job, such as R, Python, SQL, etc. and statistical modelling techniques, machine learning.

What were your favourite things about MSc Business Analytics?

I like how the courses are structured in MSc Business Analytics. It focuses on building up students’ technical and analytical skills, and at the same time relates those skills to business context. So that we can have a better idea of how we can apply these analytic techniques to different industries and drive business performance.

Which module stood out for you?

Retail and Marketing Analytics. It is one of the application courses about how data can solve business problems and answer strategy questions. We were given industrial data and got hands-on experience of data cleaning, modelling and analysing. The retail industry has its focus on customer behaviour and segmentation, and it is exactly the fun part of it, to understand how different kinds of people interact with our products, and eventually providing more customized services and improving customer loyalty.

How would you describe your MSc Business Analytics cohort?

MSc Business Analytics gathered a group of intelligent minds from different backgrounds. With limited time in class, I found that I actually learnt a lot more from working with my peers during group projects, as we all have different ideas and working styles but still closely connected to each other and shared our knowledge.

What was the Business School community like when you were studying at Imperial

There are social events where you can get to know students from other programs within The Business School.

How did you find living in London?

A bit more expensive than living in any other places within UK obviously, but as one of the most developed and dynamic cities in the world, you will be much closer to the cutting-edge academic researches and high-profile data-driven companies. In London you can easily meet people from diverse countries and backgrounds, and I find it quite beneficial to work with different mind sets.

Opportunities from studying at Imperial College Business School

Please outline your career path since studying at the Business School, including information about any internships you completed and your current position.

I worked as a part-time research assistant at University College London for a Natural Language Processing project from March to June 2016. In the following July I started my three-month journey in Expedia Affiliate Network as a data science intern. During my internship, I helped improve the visualization tool for pricing tests, implemented a new sorting algorithm and developed Bayesian Inference for test evaluation. After that, I joined Hotels.com, another brand under Expedia Inc., as a full-time business analyst, mainly focusing on effective data visualizations. The tools that I have built are widely used by different departments within Hotels.com.

What do you enjoy most about your work and what are the main challenges that you face?

I enjoy that I can learn something new every day from my work. With a main focus on data visualization in R, I am growing my knowledge base around it. I practise in HTML, CSS and Javascript to build more advanced visualizations, broaden my skill sets such as AWS, Google Analytics, etc. and most importantly, learn how to deliver rich information with numbers during the interaction with my stakeholders.

The main challenge (and also the fun part) will be working and communicating with teams that have different levels of technical background. For the marketing team I need to explain data in an easy-to-understand approach and provide more qualitative information and for the technical engineering team I need to understand their language and terms in order to work well together.

How has your MSc Business Analytics contributed to your career success?

This program opens up my mind and leads me into the data and analytics world, given that I do not have a strong technical background. It shows different possible career paths within this area from financial analytics, customer analytics, data engineering or data visualization. I can therefore have a taste of what I like before entering the job market. The name of Imperial College Business School and the hands-on experience I gained from the application courses definitely helped a lot in my job searching process.

Did you benefit from the services provided by the Business School’s Careers and Professional Development Service? If so, please describe how they helped you.

I found the internship posting of Expedia from the Imperial College Business School’s career website, when there were no campus activities from Expedia directly to our program yet. (So do keep your eyes on the postings!) This internship therefore lead to my full time position in Expedia now.

What advice would you give to a prospective student considering studying MSc Business Analytics and a subsequent career in the sector?

Since I have little working experience and related academic background before the program, I found it quite essential to be more proactive for opportunities for real data experience, such as taking part in Kaggle competitions or academic researches. On the one hand you will find it beneficial to put theories into practice and learn to deal with real data challenges, on the other hand these can be very good examples for your job interviews.

The second piece of advice is to make full use of the career services provided by the school. Imperial College Business School has good relationship with many high-profile companies. Go to the talks and get to know what kind of people they want to hire. Also you can go to the career website for a broader range of job postings.

Have you benefitted from being part of Imperial’s alumni network? If so, what value do you get from your connections with the Business School and your fellow alumni?

There are many Imperial alumni in Expedia which really helps me blend in.

Programme: MSc Business Analytics (on-campus, full-time) 2016

Nationality: Chinese

Study mode: On campus, full-time

Undergraduate education: BA (Hons) Linguistics and Sociology, The University of Manchester