Taking on Adobe’s Big Data


Recent MBA grad Venna Barrowes

Employers are scrambling to analyze piles of digital data—and to employ MBA grads who know how to make those numbers talk. That’s why recent MBA grad Venna Barrowes signed up for BYU Analytics, a new Marriott School program started by marketing professor Jeff Dotson to match second-year MBAs with real-world data projects.

“All the industries are starting to use analytics more and more—marketing,  HR, sales,” Barrowes says. “I feel like it’s going to be a vital skill to have moving forward, so I really want to know how to glean insights and information from data. If you know how to use data and turn it into something valuable, you know you’re going to be secure in your job for the next decade or so.”

Barrowes and three other students were assignsd a project with Adobe to prioritize sales leads, ranking potential customers on how likely they were to buy. “With our algorithm sales people will be able to close a lot more deals because now they have time for the most important leads,” she says.

The students worked directly with Adobe in an employee-like relationship, meeting regularly with managers and collecting data from the company. The analysis skills needed for this project at times required a PhD level of knowledge, says Barrowes, but she and her team were not intimidated: “We had Jeff Dotson on our side, so we knew we were going to be just fine,” Barrowes says. Dotson met with the group regularly and tutored the students through the process. “It was exciting to work for a company that’s one of the leaders in marketing analytics,” Barrowes adds.

After working on the project, Barrowes feels she can collaborate with engineers and data scientists more effectively. The project also had a bigger payoff for Barrowes—a position with Adobe. “I really have this project to thank for my offer from Adobe,” says Barrowes, who starts there in three weeks, joining another teammate who also landed a spot with the company.

Read more about BYU Analytics and the projects MBA students took on—including one analyzing complaints on Twitter—in the Summer 2015 issue of the Marriott Alumni Magazine.