From analyst to all-rounder

The new Masters in Analytics and Management, launching in August 2019, will equip students with the business knowledge and the data processing skills to navigate the machine learning revolution. We sat down with Professor of Management Science and Operations, Nicos Savva, to discuss his journey, and the future journey of those enrolling on the programme.

Could you tell us about your background before LBS?

My background is in physics, having studied it as an undergraduate at Cambridge. I love the topic and what it’s about, but in time I became slightly frustrated that I couldn’t communicate my learnings with anybody that didn’t have a similar degree. I went on to study financial engineering. It was similar in the sense that it used the exact same models I’d learned in physics, but instead of the motion of electrons, it was applied to describe the motion of stock prices, and used them to price exotic derivatives, financial swaps and so forth. I then switched again to management science, which applies mathematical models to problems that come from business in general. In many ways, I describe myself as a data scientist that has found a home in a business school.

What brought you to London Business School?

Primarily the emphasis on and the quality of the research that the faculty here are famous for. Also, it was the calibre of the students that come here to study. That alone makes it easier to teach at LBS because, in essence, the students are so good.

Who should be looking to join the MAM programme?

This is for people graduating from a quantitative-first degree. This could be in science, engineering, economics or business. The goal of the programme is to provide a thorough framework and the experience of using data science to make an impact on business. This won’t be as technical as a master’s in computer science or data science. It’s fairly technical, but at the same time, it will develop business acumen and an understanding of how business works.

We’re trying to bridge the world of data science and the world of management to create graduates that are sufficiently well versed in both. This way they can appreciate a business context and can use the appropriate data science tools to develop a solution for that problem, then translate this problem back to the business context that initiated it.

What will be different about teaching on the new MAM programme?

For me, it’s really exciting because I get to teach slightly more in-depth technical concepts using various tools. With the MAM, we have a license to go a little bit deeper than merely translating technical concepts for those that aren’t particularly well-versed in them.

What lectures will you be teaching on the programme?

I will be involved in two courses. The first is data mining, where we start building on the skills that students will have developed in the statistics class to solve real-world business problems using bigger data sets.

The second class I will be coordinating and teaching is on using data science responsibly. Data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence are wonderful tools that allow companies to do a lot of things that they were not able to do before. With any new technology comes powerful, beneficial uses, but also perhaps unintended consequences that one needs to be cognizant of, and try as much as possible to avoid. We have a responsibility not only to teach how to use these tools, but how to use them for the benefit of society – or at least with an awareness of the potential downsides.

What benefits do you think the Masters in Analytics and Management programme offers students and how do you feel the programme helps them in the working world?

Our students will be coming from a quantitative background. They tend to be well-trained but perhaps a little narrow in the appreciation of how their skillset can be applied. As a result, after graduating from their first degrees, they’d quite often find the transition to a business analyst role a little challenging. This programme prepares them for the transition from a student to an analyst and allows them to become productive faster. It helps them develop the business knowledge to apply the analytical tools they are acquainted with, but also equips them with additional tools that are particularly useful in the industry.

What benefits do you think London as a location offers Masters in Analytics and Management students?

London is a terrific location for anything that has to do with analytics and management. It is home to a vibrant business community that is at the forefront of applying analytics to generate a competitive advantage. This is evident from the startup scene; fintech in London is probably stronger than anywhere in the world. Blue chip companies like Amazon, Google and Apple also have a very strong presence here, tapping into the talent that London cultivates. London is a hub for innovative ways of doing business, and analytics is the big innovation of this coming decade – that makes London a very good place to be and an area many should want to be active in.


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