How this chemical engineer became a data analyst at Canva
Studying at Melbourne Business School helped Hani Fayad move from Lebanon to a role at one of Australia's most successful tech companies.
Full-time Master of Business Analytics graduate Hani Fayad is a data analyst at online design and publishing platform Canva, Australia’s largest “unicorn” tech company that at its recent peak was valued at US$40 billion.
“What I really enjoy about my work is the fact that I really help decision makers make decisions based on data. And you really give them that confidence to make that call. It's really nice to see you're adding value,” he said.
But he didn’t start his career as a data professional, nor was he always in tech.
After graduating in Lebanon with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, Hani moved to Saudi Arabia to work as a process improvement and optimisation specialist at a manufacturing company. That was when he first discovered his passion in working with data.
"That is where I saw the power of data and driving better results for a manufacturing business," he said. "I fell in love with it and I wanted to do a career in data, get away a little bit from engineering."
Balance between soft skills and technical skills
Worried that a switch from chemical engineering to data professional might be too big of a jump, Hani decided his most sensible way forward was to obtain a degree in analytics.
“I did my research and found that Melbourne Business School’s Master of Business Analytics degree was one of the best out there. There are a lot that are very similar, but it stood out to me because it worked on soft skills as well as technical skills.
“There's a lot of focus on soft skills, but also there's a lot of technical stuff in there. It's very condensed, but it doesn't compromise on the content being taught. And that wide variety of tools and skills that you get is what basically drove me to choose it.”
Hani’s enrolment at the course in 2020 coincided with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the challenges, he found himself impressed with the camaraderie among his classmates and the amount of support he had received.
“It was great having the lecturers help us so much and the camaraderie in the cohort was remarkable,” he said.
“It was just the first two months of the course that we had face to face. But we were lucky because we got to meet each other in these first two months and build those connections. And then when moved to remote, it was easy to maintain them because we already were sort of friends.”
“Even though we were remote and we couldn't actually be together in the same classroom, it still felt like we were one group and we were in a classroom together. I can't really thank them enough for making the year, hard as it was, easy to go through.”
Melbourne Business School recently expanded its Master of Business Analytics program to offer more ways to study for aspiring data professionals and leaders.
The new changes include a part-time, hybrid version of the popular degree, as well as stackable qualifications including:
- Part-time Master of Business Analytics (2+ years)
- Professional Certificate in Business Analytics (6+ months)
- Graduate Certificate in Business Analytics (1+ year)
- Graduate Diploma in Business Analytics (18+ months).
Key takeaways from the analytics degree
When asked about his biggest takeaways from his degree, Hani points to his ability to balance business with technical concepts and break down complex ideas in a way that laypeople can understand.
“The main lesson that I learned is how to speak to a non-technical audience, and that is something that is very essential in my day-to-day work.
“A lot of my stakeholders are non-technical people. I need to be able to avoid jargon and technical lingo when I'm communicating with them to make sure that they actually get the story that I'm trying to convey with the data and understand the insights that I'm trying to present them.
“That is something that the course taught me. We always had to make sure that our presentations are more business oriented rather than just data-oriented. It takes you out of that technical bubble that maybe some other courses would put you in, and it pushes you out of your comfort zone into communicating with other stakeholders.”
He also beams with enthusiasm about the network he’s developed.
“I still have all my connections from the school. I'm still in touch with some of my lectures and with a lot of people from my cohort, and I actually lean on them whenever I have a technical problem I’m struggling with at work. I reach out to them to get their opinion on things.”
He advises people who want to study data analytics to just go for it and not to be intimidated by the lack of a technically relevant background.
“I started in engineering and moved to data, which is quite different. And it's very intimidating when you're doing this course as well, when you're surrounded with people that have studied statistics or math or way more relevant subjects.
“You will thank yourself in the future for doing this degree, for finishing something as hard as this, because the opportunities that you will get out of it are boundless. So just brace yourself.
“It's going to be hard, but it will be worth it.”