How Jenny Filby became head of analytics at Converge International
Jenny Filby came to Melbourne Business School to work with data, but the best part about her degree ended up being the people.
"I was at a point where I didn't know what to do, and I was very lucky in life's timing because this course came up at exactly the right moment," Jenny says.
Jenny was a member of the first Master of Business Analytics class in 2015 and is now General Manager of Analytics at Australia's largest employment assistance provider, Converge International.
Jenny was working in Canberra to provide support for Australia's peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan when she applied to enrol in the inaugural cohort.
"I had access to all this data, but I was getting very frustrated because I didn't have the technical tools to really extract the power from it," she says.
"I really wanted something, some tools, to translate those findings into something actionable, so that's why I chose to study the Master of Business Analytics."
Despite coming to Melbourne Business School to hone her technical skills, Jenny says the most valuable part of studying was the community of people she developed around her.
"My career has just gone from strength to strength because of the community that you build, not just within the course, but within the university and wider industry network," she says.
"After the course, I went to work straight with Woolworths, and my following jobs were through networking – either directly or indirectly – with people that I knew from Melbourne Business School.
"I would say what I got the most out of the course is the people. I know everyone says that, but we went through an intense and transformational year together and we've stuck by each other since then."
Academic Director Dr Simon Holcombe says the Master of Business Analytics program – ranked number 15 in the world and top in the Asia-Pacific region by QS in 2020 – teaches professionals how to use data analytics to solve a variety of business problems and how to use personal skills to explain those solutions to others.
"The program provides a solid and accelerated pathway for professionals and recent graduates to enhance their career opportunities within this booming area," he says.
"We're one of the only schools that offer a rigorous one-year analytics course that's taught by leaders in the fields of statistics, economics, operations research, marketing and computer science, making it a great way to upskill.
"Coupled with this is the degree's association with the Centre for Business Analytics, which engages industry partners to host our group-based internships – called A-Labs, short for Analytics-Labs – that offer students even more than they might expect going in.
"A testament to how effective our graduates have been in their placements is that many of them now hold senior positions here and overseas, and some have gone on to start their own businesses within the analytics space."
Since 2015, one of the key industry partners for the A-Labs program has been Suncorp. Michael Gassmann, Head of Pricing and Analytics, says when recruiting in Melbourne, Melbourne Business School is the only place his organisation sources analytics talent from.
"We find that the students that we get out of there hit the ground running and are what we've called 'trilingual'," he says.
"They have business acumen, they have a good understanding of self – because the course does quite a lot around self-development – and they obviously understand the stats and modelling, big data and the IT parts."
Michael says what makes for a good analytics graduate is the ability to understand business problems, not just the data they analyse.
"Everything is driven from a business need. The MBS students come out and know how to use data to address that. They understand the complexities of it. They understand what to do, what not to do – they understand the traps," he says.
For new Master of Business Analytics students following in her footsteps, Jenny has a few pieces of advice.
"I'd suggest that everyone really embrace the diversity of the course, both in its people and the ambitious scope of subjects. It's great to find your niche, but also take it as an introduction to continuous learning, a gateway to what data driven decisions can offer," she says.
"Don't just enter the course and say 'OK, this is what the course is going to give me', but say to yourself, 'this is my world opening up and this is how I can give back to the community with my greater analytics insights."