All the late nights, hard work, and revisions paid off at the BAC’s Fall Business Analytics Practicum Showcase. Held on Tuesday, December 6th, the showcase featured three teams of graduate students delivering the results of their semester-long practicum project.
“One of the hidden ingredients in great analytics projects is grit,” said BAC Managing Director Keith Werle, who taught the practicum. “This rare opportunity to analyze market share in the European beverage market looked deceptively simple in the beginning. As the students worked and reworked the data throughout the semester, they came up with key breakthroughs and foundational models in the last few weeks—which led to massive project revisions.”
According to Werle, all of the teams then bore down, reinterpreting and re-crunching the numbers, unlocking key insights to an ultimately spectacular overall result.
“Working with imperfect data pushed us to try things we had never tried before,” explained MBA Candidate Cem Yumuk. “Some strategies failed. Some were inconclusive. With each one, we discovered something we didn’t know about the data that led to new avenues to explore.”
At the showcase, the students wowed the audience of BAC industry partners and Executive Council companies, including data-challenge sponsor, The Coca-Cola Company. Each team had 15 minutes to unveil the results of their semester-long analysis of beverage sales in select European countries. After their presentations, students and audience members, comprised of executives from The Coca-Cola Company, King & Spalding, Veritiv, NCR, Home Depot, Simple Part, Visa, and Thought Logic, and even a few Georgia Tech undergraduate students took part in a lively Q&A. Students and executives then adjourned downstairs for further discussion at a networking dinner held at Ray’s Pizza.
Coca-Cola executives attending the showcase included Emily Haberstroh, internal communications manager; Nikki Todd, vice president, digital user experience, (practicum team leader); Evan Charles, group director, revenue growth management; and Alex Clarke, digitization services lead.
“The students did an outstanding job and were very engaging,” said Clarke. “I really enjoyed that they went beyond the numbers and explored what’s driving sales and put themselves in the shoes of the shopper.”
“It was really useful to have a dedicated team diving in to our data,” added Charles. “They definitely gave us a lot to consider. I enjoyed the presentations as well as the opportunity to meet and talk to the students after the event.”
The students appreciated both the class itself and the opportunity to wrestle with real-world data:
“It was extremely useful to work with actual company data sets rather than the curated data sets we see in the classroom,” said MBA candidate Stacy Feeling. “Because of this class, we’ll be able to take what we learned and apply it throughout our careers. For example, on the technical side, we gained experience modeling—but just as valuable was learning how to speak the language of data and translate the importance of the data insights to the client.”
“I felt like we accomplished something real in this class. We wanted to offer a shred of understanding why the tea market could be a great opportunity for Coke in Italy—and I think we did that,” said Michael Smith, MBA candidate.
“It was fun to connect the dots and tell a good story,” added Ruchi Parekh, MBA candidate. “We enjoyed the chance to link the insights to the data and show Coca-Cola how our research could actually benefit their sales.”
“Professor Werle is engaging and makes the class fun. At first, it seemed a bit overwhelming, but Keith allowed us to wade in there and figure it out, offering advice and support without telling us what to do. Even though we worked in teams, we also got a lot of valuable, individual feedback,” said Aaron Darby, MBA candidate.
“We all brought different strengths to the table, which made us a better team overall,” offered Georgia Pearce. “The class was also good preparation for problem solving with a client mentality.”
“One of the reasons I came to business school was to work with big international brands and help them solve problems with data. This class very definitely checked that box and was one of my favorites at Tech,” said Thomas Landzert, MBA candidate
Next semester’s class will use data supplied by BAC Executive Council partner, Veritiv Corporation. “Seeing this showcase makes me really look forward to our practicum sponsorship next semester,” said Veritiv Senior Data Science Manager Shashi Chilukuri. “I think it’s definitely a Yellow-Jacket worthy challenge.”
The Strategic Refreshment Consultants Team analyzed water sales in Spain. Members included (from l to r): Aaron Darby, Evening MBA; Chakravarthy Ravilla Ph.D., MSA, Jaime Roth, MBA, Georgia Pearce, MBA, and Thomas Landzert, MBA.
The Strategic Pricing Jackets examined tea and lemonade market share and pricing strategies in Italy. Members included Addison Hearn, Evening MBA; Ruchi Parekh, MBA; Michael Smith, Evening MBA; Nathan Sauer, MBA; Aruna Kari, Evening MBA; and Nazma Akhter, MBA (not pictured).
Members of the Beverage Analytics Experts examined market share for water brands in France and included (from l to r): Cem Yumuk, MBA; Stacy Feeling, MBA; Kyle McBride, MBA; and J.B. Brown, MBA.