Before this program, I didn’t know what I didn’t know

Nikolh Nemard

Nikolh Nemard, BS Management Information Systems, MSBA ’20
Senior Data Analyst, Aledade

Career aspirations

When I started the program I was working in the federal government. I was looking for more opportunities to work with data. I see myself in management, but still close to the data, so I always hope to be able to develop and analyze data management in a data analytics capacity.

Why did you choose the Smith Online MS in Business Analytics program?

Being a data person, I feel like formal education is always a step behind where we are in the industry. Having a new program like this, it felt like they understood what the new processes are. The things in the curriculum were on par with what people talk about in industry settings, like the tech forums I go to.

What did you learn that has been most helpful?

The program taught me how to ask the right questions, questions that I didn’t even know were possible. It opened my eyes to new ways to analyze and clean data, and to new tools and software that were available to me. Before this program, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

Favorite teacher? Favorite subject?

My favorite was Dr. Suresh Acharya’s optimization course [link to course description on website]. Optimizing how well an organization can function seems so obvious, but it was something I never thought about. He was engaging and gave us information that helped us ask better questions. He did a good job explaining how it was relevant in the real world. Our class project was about the UPS system and how they organized it, and I thought it was so interesting that I wanted to take it to my current company.


I had a group of classmates I kept in touch with from beginning to end. We got together for study sessions, talked to each other, vented to each other. We all had different levels of data skills. I took an information systems course in undergrad and I used SQL in my work, so I had a little background. It was very important for us to work together and talk through problems, help people debug their stuff. It was good to have somebody else to talk to about your frustrations or to rely on your teammates to help you think about things differently.

Work/life balance

It’s a lot of work. I have a husband and child and I work full-time. My family and I were willing to make the sacrifice because it was a very short program compared to something like an MBA.

How has the program had an impact on your career?

Having a graduate degree in analytics in this day and time, there’s no comparison. Having completed the program, I’ve found it so useful in my work. I wouldn’t have even known about some of the things people talk about at work

Advice for other MSBA students?

Prepare and get your mind in analysis mode. The school gives you access to LInkedIn Learning courses, those are helpful to get your mind calibrated again if you’ve been out of school and working for a while. The concepts move quickly. It’s not a statistics program, it’s not a coding program, it is interdisciplinary and it puts the pieces together.

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