Career question from a MBA grad

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New Contributor
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Career question from a MBA grad

I am a MBA graduate, my undergrad is in international studies and economics.  I also had a master in Political Science.

During my internship, I got explosure to SQL and SAS. Took two classes in SAS. I could use SAS to generate some report, but not too complex.

I am preparing for SAS Basic Certificate now.

The more I get into SAS, the more I start to ask myself, whether I should get into this field.  Now I really appreciate if you all could help provide some feedback and suggestion.


I don't have very strong or hard core math or statistics background, neither do I have IT progromming background.

At most, I am a MBA with relatively strong analytical skills. Now I am wondering if I don't really want to get too deeply into statistics and math modeling, will there be a future for me to learn SAS, and what level is good enough for me? 

If I get a master in business and not statistics or math, what's the value of learning SAS for me? Or should I just stop here and not waste my time to devote too much to this very technical direction??

Thank you all very much for providing some thoughts on this.

New Contributor
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Career question from a MBA grad

No one really respond?? please.....

PROC Star
Posts: 7,474

Career question from a MBA grad

It is a difficult question to answer and you are competing with NFL football games on TV this afternoon.

When people do respond I think that you will get mixed answers.  I think that the critical question is what kind of job are you going to be looking for after you graduate and will it involve the analytical/data management capabilities of a program like SAS?

If the answer to that question is no, then I think that you have already answered the question yourself.  If the answer is yes, then the question (I think) becomes one of what level do you expect to be involved?  If you are heading toward becoming a programmer, then I think the certification route is a good one to follow.

However, if you are not really looking at programming, per se, but rather either just using SAS as an analytical tool and/or managing others who will be doing the programming, then I wouldn't take the certification route. Instead, I would just learn as much as you can regarding those aspects of SAS that you think you and/or your staff will need to know.  At least that is route I took for myself and it has paid off tremendously over the years.  In my opinion one can be a much better manager if they truly understand what their staff members are doing and what the actual possibilities really are.

HTH,

Art

Occasional Contributor
Posts: 8

Career question from a MBA grad

You definitely do not need a hard core background in math and stats to effectively use SAS.  While you do not need to have a programming background in terms of obtaining a degree, learning the basic constructs of programming would help in my opinion (not a specific language though).  Understanding the basic constructs of programming would help you pick up other software packages (i.e. SPSS) as well.

I use SAS every day in my job, along with about another 70 or so people in my division.  Some have strong math/stats backgrounds, but most do not.  I am one of those that do not.

Whether it is worth going forward with SAS will probably depend more on where you land a job.  If you are analytical, then you should be able to pick up whatever software packages are necessary. 

If you do go forward with SAS, what level would be primarily dependent on what you want to do in the end and which company you are with.

In my career I have hopped through various functions (finance, IT, operations, etc).  Being analytical will work more to your advantage than having a hard skill set with a particular software package.

Unfortunately there is no golden answer.  You'll probably have to do what most people have done and figure out what you need as you go along.

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Career question from a MBA grad

Any company with which I have worked for would look first for an advanced degree in math/statistics before advanced working knowledge of the SAS language for the individuals who would be employed to do methodological developments/model generation.  So Art and _AW_ make a valid points I will basically repeat.  It depends what type of career path you are looking to explore.  Modeling would require a real working knowledge of statisical analysis, unless along your way to getting a MBA you have encountered ideas of genetic regressions, nueral networks, non-linear regression, chaid and other decision tree analytics, forecasting, just to name a very sparse few techniques.  There are plenty of non-statiscal SAS programming jobs you can get as well from a data entry, qc, maintainence point of view and certain companies would surly find a unique balance of programming savvy with a key focus from a business focused individual.  There are lots of companies in communications industries for example where you could probably work in a data analyst capacity, however with two advanced degrees it is probably below your grade unless you are wanting to somewhat abandon those notions to persue a different path.  Additionally to parrallel Art once more, it may be a good idea for you to persue a type of project manager position where you oversee a group of SAS users, having a sparse working knowledge of the language and it's capabilities, a storng analytic sense from a business side perspective, it may be a good track for you to explore.

Frequent Contributor
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Career question from a MBA grad

I work for a large Financial Institution and have had the opportunity to work with many bright and energetic (but usually naive) MBA's.  MBA's usually aren't tasked with solving problems that truly require deep Statistics.  So there's probably no real need to go very deep.

But you may often find opportunities to work with Statisticians and/or data management people.  It's these occasions where every bit of familiarity you have with their tool and approach will help you understand the approach, challenges, and timelines.  I believe this is where familiarity with SAS helps you bridge the gap between business and "technology".  In this sense, every little bit helps.

SAS Super FREQ
Posts: 3,753

Career question from a MBA grad

I second @DLing's comments. Just because you personally are not doing the analysis does not mean that there is no value in knowing these things. You will be working with analysts, and the training you are doing now will help you discuss issues with the analysts on your team. Furthermore, if you one day end up in management, you'll appreciate having an inkling of what your analysts do and how you can evaluate their performance.

Contributor
Posts: 35

Career question from a MBA grad

Perhaps it would help to browse the SAS Business Report Archives http://www.sas.com/news/newsletter/business/index.html to give you some additional exposure to how SAS is used in business.

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Career question from a MBA grad

Dear all,

             Thank you so much. I really appreciate all of your answers and suggestions. I need to read them several times and digest these feedback and ask myself.  I may have follow up question.

              I guess I really don't see myself become a hard core programmer or statistians ( I have a master in business not in Statistics---I don't want to put myself in the situation that I have to compete with these super scientists). ....but I need to figure out exactly like what some of you said----the level of depth or involvement into it.

              My dilemma is that I am a new grad, managerial position is not easily avialible, so the job market will somehow push me to find  a more technical or hard core position, no? 

PROC Star
Posts: 7,474

Career question from a MBA grad

Monica, In answer to your latest question, probably, but it will make most sense if you first decide on a career path.  I know far too many people who didn't do that and have spent their entire career in positions that they thought would only be early rungs on their career path.  Yes, once can only take one step at a time but, hopefully, it will be a step in the direction where they really want to go.

Frequent Contributor
Posts: 104

Re: Career question from a MBA grad

MBA normally equip one to solve a large variety of general business problems, unlike scientists or statisticians who develop deep skills within a problem domain or analytical methods.

All of the MBA's I've seen tend to rotate throughout an organization, spending time in different lines of businesses, learning something about each function to round out their knowledge, and prepare for the day when they get called upon to actually run a business unit.  So initially it's a lot of doing/solving, whereas latter stages involve a lot of managing/directing.

If you believe in fact based decision making, and want data to tell you the truth, you inevitably will need to either get the facts yourself, work with people to get at the facts, or ask you team to come up with the facts for you.  To the extent you can understand the principles, methods, attitudes involved in doing great analytical work, you will either endear the analytics talents to you so they love to work with/for you, or as what I see all the time, create a giant rift between you and the analytics professional (because you don't understand how they operate) so they cringe as you approach with another "unreasonable" ask.

The initial position is important, but people find ways to move and settle into situations that they find comfortable.  Thus it's not the sole determinant either.  I would say initially go for maximum exposure, experience, and knowledge acquisition.  Move around within an organization.  Don't stay pat for too long - MBA's tend not to do that.  But that depends on your personality, and life can get in the way of the best laid plans.  The only sure fire thing to do is to network like crazy.  Opportunities won't come to seek you out, you have to go out and seek / build out your network.  Aside from your own technical competencies, this is probably your most valuable asset, and one can argue that it may be more important than technical competencies as you progress.

There's a saying "It's not what you know, it's who you know".  I would go further and say "It's not who you know, it's who knows you". [huge difference]

RIght now, I don't know if I'm helping you or not Smiley Wink

New Contributor
Posts: 2

Re: Career question from a MBA grad

Hello Monica,

SAS does not need you to have any programming background. It is fairly simple and user friendly.

SAS is a statistical software which is widely used especially in fields concerning Data Analytics (using statistics), Healthcare, CPG, Finance, HR, etc. though there is increasing corporate interest in enterprise R especially in the Big Data space.


In Finance SAS is widely used for risk modelling, credit scoring,fraud analytics and so on.


SAS is run on various environment such as Windows, Unix, Linux, etc. The Windows based SAS is easiest to begin with.

Regards,

Ravi Mandal

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