How Tracy Wang is learning to talk data to the client as well as the team
"Sometimes we lose track of how a company operates and how important data are to it, which can really matter in directing your work," says Tracy Wang.
Tracy is a consulting manager at PwC who specialises in forensic accounting and corporate investigations, and one of the first students in Melbourne Business School's new Master of Analytics Management degree.
"I'm engaged to consult on situations like where someone defrauded a company by misappropriating its funds through a related entity to their own account, or to provide advice in a dispute situation when compensation and losses need to be calculated by a forensic accounting expertise," Tracy says.
"Often, the basis of investigating financial fraud and calculating financial loss compensation to support legal proceedings is usually a lot of transactional data, accounting records and people analysis."
The new degree program is designed for mid-to-senior level professionals who need to learn how to leverage data strategically, and direct analysts to do the same.
"We have a specialised data analytics team who can code and understand data," Tracy says. "But to work sufficiently with the team, I am required to have the knowledge to provide insightful and relevant guidance for the team to look for the right data to answer the right questions.
"After realising that, I started thinking about a master's degree in analytics and found the Master of Analytics Management to be the right mix of technical and soft skills for me."
Tracy has so far completed the first semester of classes and is already putting her new skills to use at work.
"What the data analysis class in the course has already given me is a better way to approach the bigger picture and understand big data sets to identify the reliable information sources," she says.
"My approach to questions, data and how to work with a team has improved."
Tracy says one of the biggest changes has been the clarity she can now bring to interactions with data scientists, analysts and other project stakeholders.
"One thing about working with a very technical team is that we can go into details too quickly," she says.
"What I've learned is how to give the team and myself a better picture of our objectives and what we want from the data or how the data will affirm or deny our assumptions.
"That has really helped myself and the team to find direction in understanding what we want to achieve before diving in too deep."
With prior study including a certificate in public accounting under her belt, Tracy's time in the course will be shorter than others – but just as worthwhile.
"What I really like about the degree is that I have the options to pick the track that I would like to be in, either to be in Marketing, Financial Management or Supply Chain analytics," she says.
"It's also interesting that back when I was studying my Bachelor of Business Administration, there were really no programs that are designated to data analysis. So it now feels good to be part of one where I can see how data knowledge has transformed over the past 10 years.
"I really like my field, so I want to be able to continue to be a forensic accountant – but one with great knowledge of how I can talk data to the client, and to the team."