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How a Passion for Problem Solving Put Two Women on the Path to Business Analytics Success: An Interview with Rachel Wiseley and June Sloan, Two Top Business Analytics Scheller Graduates

Rachel Wiseley and June Sloan discuss the choices that led to Scheller, Slalom, and business analytics succcess.
Rachel Wiseley and June Sloan

Rachel Wiseley and June Sloan

To celebrate Women’s History Month, we’re excited to profile two of our most recent presidents of the Business Analytics Club at Scheller College of Business.

As would be expected, they are very different women. Rachel Wiseley is a self-professed foodie who loves to travel. June Sloan is a board-game enthusiast who enjoys salsa dancing and hiking with her family.

Despite their differences, there are striking similarities in their career paths.

Both cite math and puzzle solving as key drivers for their school and career choices.

Both approached grad school and beyond with thoughtful and strategic decision making.

Both were student leaders. Both were highly recruited.

Both chose Scheller. 

Both chose Slalom Consulting.

Read how two very different women ended up in many of the same places.

What is your undergraduate degree and where did you get it?

Wiseley: Applied Mathematics from Georgia Tech.

Sloan: Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech.

What did you do immediately after graduation?

Wiseley: My first job out of college was at Synovus. It was an IT job and the manager hired me knowing I did not have a background in analytics. He wanted people good with numbers that he could train up. He actually bought us textbooks to teach us more about it.

Sloan: I first worked at Siemens Industry in a rotational leadership development program. I designed motor control centers for factory automation and helped design processes for technical marketing.

Why business analytics?

Wiseley: I have always been passionate about numbers, which was one of the main driving forces behind my undergraduate degree in Applied Mathematics. Analytics is a great fit for me because it combines my passion for numbers with my passion for solving puzzles.

Sloan: I enjoy using analytical skills to solve business problems. I like that you get to wear a lot of hats—there is the technical aspect and then just as important, drawing meaningful insight from data to make decisions.

What made you decide to get a graduate degree?

Wiseley: As I became more fluent in analytics, I realized I wanted to learn more. At Synovus, I would be told, “Rachel, here is the problem. Build this model.” There would be a lot of back and forth because we wouldn’t have access to the data or the data wouldn’t exist or we wouldn’t be asking the right questions. I realized I wanted to be more involved with defining the problem and designing a solution.

Sloan: In my most recent job, I was responsible for developing the pricing strategy at a British retailer called Sainsbury’s. I realized I enjoyed it because I got to analyze large datasets spanning sales information and customer shopping behavior, while at the same time, develop the business case for key recommendations. I really loved the intersection of these two competencies and wanted to gain more experience and skills in these areas. I thought a graduate degree would be a great way to do that.

Why Scheller?

Wiseley: After looking at several programs in the southeast, I was actually torn between an MSA and MBA degree. At that point the dual degree did not exist at Georgia Tech. I applied to both and then got the call that they were beginning the dual MBA/MSA program. Figuring it was the best of both worlds, I chose Georgia Tech and enrolled in fall 2016. I was the lucky guinea pig to be the very first test case.

Sloan: The business analytics track in the full-time MBA program was a big draw for me as it aligned with my interests. The world-class Career Services department and the close-knit community at Scheller were other big reasons!

What did Scheller do right?

Wiseley: I found a community within Scheller. It’s small so you get to know everyone in your program. In addition to the technical knowledge and my degree, the biggest thing I got out of Georgia Tech was a strong network. I know all 80 people who were in my cohorts and would not hesitate to recommend them for a job or reach out to them if I was looking for a job.

Sloan: The small cohort size and strong community here are what make Scheller so special. It’s a collaborative atmosphere that is truly second to none. The small cohort size also allows for the flexibility to take classes you are interested in and to focus on skills you want to develop for a post-MBA career.

What are you most proud of as president of the Business Analytics Club?

Wiseley: I am probably most proud of the Women in Technology event we held the spring of my second year. The opportunity to hear from women leaders in different industries was really powerful and it was impactful to hear from female leaders who are passionate about data and math.

Sloan: The club does a really good job balancing professional development and connecting students with potential employers. As the president, I am probably most proud of our young alumni panel. All of the club officers brought in contacts to speak to current students about how to make the most out of their time at Tech, how they obtained their jobs, and finally, how to hit the ground running when you land a job.  

Tell us about your internship:

Wiseley: I worked at Home Depot in their Paid Media Group under eCommerce and Marketing. It was fast-paced and I gained some valuable experience learning to manage relationships with outside teams. During my project, I worked with several vendors as well as different groups within my team to get a pilot stood up. In addition to the business experience, they had lots of activities for the interns set up, including many panels where you could interact with C-suite executives.

Sloan: I interned at Home Depot for the eCommerce Pricing & Promotions team.  My project was to develop a pricing strategy to improve click-through rates of products featured in google ads. I analyzed data, formed a hypothesis, and then worked with merchants and the Paid Media team to conduct a pilot. I learned to manage and execute a project end-to-end while building new relationships with groups outside of my team. At the end, all interns got to present their final recommendations to the senior leadership team and convince the business of a viable solution.

Tell us about your recruiting process:

Wiseley: I started interviewing with a lot of different companies like Home Depot, UPS, and NCR through Career Services. I had actually ruled out consulting; however, when Slalom came to campus for an information session, a friend said I should go because they were hiring in analytics. I went home, got my suit and sat in on the session. Immediately, it felt different from the other consulting companies. You could tell the presenters knew each other. You could tell they actually worked together—and enjoyed it.  I ended up with four offers from different companies, and at the end of the day, even though I said consulting was not for me, Slalom proved me wrong.

Sloan: I heard great things about Slalom from many people and focused on them pretty early in the recruiting process. My husband who works at Delta is a satisfied client and spoke highly of Slalom’s people and culture. Rachel had just joined as well, and she was enjoying her work. It was important to me to find a company that aligned with my values and had a culture that I would enjoy.

Why did you choose Slalom?

Wiseley: The culture really won me over. I liked the smaller feel of it. Every time I interviewed with Slalom, everyone I met, the company culture shined through. The 10 Core Values, such as “Do what is right, always;” Drive connection and teamwork;” and “Take ownership. Get it done,” really spoke to me and were inspiring—I could tell the people interviewing me both believed and lived those core values.

Sloan: The people and the culture. Everyone I interacted with at Slalom was passionate about what they do and seemed to be having a lot of fun doing it too.

What is your position at Slalom now?

Wiseley: Senior consultant in Data & Analytics.

Sloan: Strategy & Operations Consultant in Business Advisory Services.

What do you like about Slalom?

Wiseley: It’s a very supportive environment. If I ever have a question, we have a network where you can reach out. It’s not competitive, it’s very collaborative. In that way, Slalom is a lot like Scheller. You’re going to give your clients better solutions when collaboration takes place. I also like Slalom’s emphasis on employee growth.  Beginning on day one, you talk about where you are interested in going, and are then assigned projects that set you up to achieve your goals. Because we’re small enough, I can raise my hand and say, “hey I see a gap here,” and I will be given the opportunity to lead an initiative.

Sloan: Slalom is a place where you get to work with smart people, work on interesting problems, and get to bring your whole self to work. Our local model also allows people to focus on building relationships and doing the right thing for the clients over the long term. We welcome and encourage people to bring ideas, take on leadership roles, and even start employee “clubs.” I’m optimistic about our continued growth and am grateful to be a part of the team!

Advice for Tech students and new graduates?

Wiseley: Find a company where you feel passionate about the company culture and the value of the work you do.

Sloan: Use your time in school to explore different company and career choices. Connect with classmates and alumni to get their perspectives, and don’t hesitate to ask for introductions. Many of us have been where you are and would be happy to help. Find a company where you can grow and be yourself.

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