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Rene A. Simon

Evening MBA
Class Year:
Spring 2018
Data Science & Machine Learning Operations at Netflix

What was your favorite part about getting your MBA at Scheller?

This is stated ad nauseam by the instructors, but to me, the majority of what you learn in your MBA is actually not from the world-class instructors at Scheller College— it’s from your classmates. The industry details and overall experiential knowledge that the entire class has are paramount.

I learned a lot about other industries I didn’t know about. Learning about those other industries rounded me out as an industry professional, especially when I learned about consulting. I learned so much from my classmates that was not a part of the curriculum.  I have all this knowledge on different industries and different areas that are unrelated to my core.

How did Scheller’s focus on business, technology, and innovation prepare you for success?

Getting an MBA shapes the way you view things. Whenever I see a new product, I think, “how much did that marketing cost because this product is cheap and that price is high,” so they’re looking at high marketing, and then I start going down that thought process. The MBA changes the way I look at business decisions, and then you start realizing that business decisions can be applied anywhere. When my son is deciding  what sports team he is trying out for because their seasons overlap, I can talk to him about ROI and opportunity cost. He doesn’t always enjoy those conversations, but he will eventually get it. They are concepts that can apply anywhere. My MBA has given me a new set of tools to approach life’s problems.

What was your favorite part about being a member of Blacks in Business when you were in school?

Blacks in Business’(BiB) ability to generate this community of giving and service. The club also creates a connection for lifelong friends. I think there is a part in all of us that strives to find people who are like us and not people who are like us by color, race, or sex, people that are like us holistically. I found a group of educated African American males who have  become lifelong friends.  I could talk to them about relationships and marriage, career endeavors, community involvement, and investing in the future. It was the first time I found people who had the same struggles and life goals as me. BiB was not only a place for learning and community education and giving, but it was also a place to find friends.

How have you been able to use your MBA at your position at Netflix?

At Netflix, I am a senior data scientist, and I was hired because of my MBA. What I mean by that is, data scientists are technical. Their primary goal is to create a model that accomplishes a task. I have a couple of things in my background that made me effective at Netflix. One of them is my previous experience as an IT manager and in development as a production support manager, which helped me understand the process to production line solutions. When I received my MBA, it allowed me to take a step back and look through the overall business lens and how this process could integrate with other parts of the organization. Then I went to data science, which gave me a powerful tool to solve problems.

What was your motivation behind starting the René A. Simon fellowship?

During my time at Georgia Tech, I was a part of the group that founded the student-led club BiB. We did a lot of community outreach and had programs that helped underserved communities understand what entrepreneurship was and understand how business works. One of the programs was First Fridays, where we would get together and have drinks and talk about microaggressions at work or any other topics that affect our community. I enjoyed that so much that there were things I wanted to do: When I became an alumnus, I wanted to continue to give to BiB and try to ensure the organization stays around because it is a needed space, especially for people of color.

I realized I was fortunate in my life. I put in hard work and effort to get where I’m at, but some things went my way. I wanted to create a way to ease the financial burden of people who shared similar goals of serving their community and helping underrepresented minorities achieve their goals. I also used it as a push for BiB. I specified in the scholarship that one of the asks was that preference is given to people of color and people in BiB. Hopefully, BiB membership will continue to grow, which will make the organization continue to thrive. The fellowship provides a $5,000 check to the recipient.   One of the requirements for the fellowship is that the recipient has shown a desire to serve their community through the many different actions that BiB does.

Learn more about the René A Simon Fellowship.

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