Data Insights Expert Rommie Samai MS’12 Leads Virtual Business Analytics Roundtable

Data Insights Expert Rommie Samai MS’12 Leads Virtual Business Analytics Roundtable

More than 50 Fairfield Dolan graduate students tuned in to hear Samai share his career path, discuss the business analytics industry, and answer questions.

There are hardcore data people and business people, and you need someone to be able to translate between one area and the other. That, I think, is where we come in. We’re valuable because we understand the business, we understand data, and we understand math.

— Business Analytics Advisory Board Member Rommie Samai MS’12

Last week the Charles F. Dolan School of Business welcomed Fairfield graduate and Advisory Board member Rommie Samai MS’12 for a virtual roundtable. The event was hosted and moderated by Chris Huntley, PhD, associate professor of information systems and operations management, and Philip Maymin, PhD, director of the Business Analytics program.

Samai kicked off the event by explaining that he had been working in finance for several years and then had an epiphany in 2000. “I saw a shift toward data and how it would be used in decision making, so I decided to reshape my career,” he said. Enrolling at the University of Texas for his MBA, he “basically had to make [his] own curriculum,” because, at the time, there was no such thing as a concentration in analytics. He later earned a master’s degree in mathematics from Fairfield University.

A position in the business intelligence sector at Prudential Insurance gave Samai insights into the workings of a large corporation and allowed him to put his data skills to good use. As an example, he was asked by the head of sales to determine why they were not hitting their sales goals. It’s a broad question, but one of the things Samai’s team looked at was the amount of time salespeople spent on various accounts. Though they spent equal time with each potential client, the data showed that most of their sales were coming from a fraction of the firms contacted. “It’s information that all came out in the data,” he said, noting that the company implemented a segmentation system for their sales force, allowing them to rebalance their time which resulted in the biggest quarter ever, in terms of new member growth. 

After a decade at Prudential, Samai made the switch to work at IDOC, a small company that supports more than 3,000 independent optometrists around the country. Samai was hired to make sense of the data that the organization was collecting but didn’t know how to interpret.

“Independent optometrists are generally small, often family-run businesses, and they don’t have access to the expertise that a company like Prudential has,” explained Samai. The idea of helping small, independent businesses was appealing; at IDOC, Samai is an analytics team of one. 

Asked what it was like to go from a handful of very senior, presumably highly quantitative, finance executives in an environment like Prudential to one that is not, Samai laughed. “Actually, most of my bosses at Prudential were not highly quantitative,” he said. “Business people, especially more senior ones, need data specialists to translate for them. There are hardcore data people and business people, and you need someone to be able to translate between one area and the other. That, I think, is where we come in. We’re valuable because we understand the business, we understand data, and we understand math.” 

The qualities most important for a data analyst, noted Samai, are curiosity, a comfort with data, math skills, and being a logical, critical thinker. “You don’t need to be an expert in the field you’re in, but you will need to understand it in order to succeed in your job.”

Samai also stressed the importance of empathy, good communication and listening skills, and building trust. “If you build trust within your company, you’ll be the go-to person, and that’s the person you want to be, because then your career will take off.”

Tags:  Dolan School,  Top Stories

Last modified: 12-11-20 11:10 AM

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