Alumni in Action: Emily Bisenius ’19 & Hayley Edmonds ’19

In Spring 2018, Emily Bisenius was the first of her soon-to-be MSA ‘19 classmates to post a call for roommates on the incoming student forum. Hayley Edmonds was the first to respond. During the MSA ‘19 Orientation that June, we interviewed the two roommates to find out their hopes and expectations for the months ahead. 

Bisenius, who holds a bachelor’s degree in actuarial science from the University of Northern Iowa, developed an interest in data analytics while working for three years as an actuary in the life insurance industry. Edmonds, who studied chemical engineering at NC State, realized that she preferred the analysis side over the lab work. She entered the MSA program immediately after completing her undergraduate degree. Both Bisenius and Edmonds served as team leads for their practicum projects, sponsored by the Royal Bank of Canada and the NC Office of State Budget and Management, respectively. Bisenius now works as a risk analyst II at Elevate in Fort Worth, Texas, and Edmonds is a senior data analyst with Epsilon in Cincinnati, Ohio.

We checked in with them recently to find out how their data science careers are progressing.

When we spoke with you at the start of your MSA experience, you indicated you were (more or less) open to exploring career possibilities in various industries. How did you land your post-MSA job?

Bisenius: Each industry faces problems I never even thought of before — but problems you might have the opportunity to help with! The main reason I was open to any industry was because I was looking for a good culture fit, along with the opportunity to grow. The Institute does a great job allowing companies to communicate across many different settings (Analytics in Practice, interviews, phone calls, happy hour, etc.), allowing you to see all sides of a company to make the best choice. I was very grateful to have landed my job at Elevate through the Institute recruiting process and ultimately picked it for the people and fast-paced environment. However, I do find the fintech industry very interesting and full of opportunity! 

Edmonds: My first post-MSA job was with Elevate. Through the Institute’s internal recruiting process, I interviewed with companies across a spectrum of industries, from technology to automotive and consulting to banking. Despite initially wanting to avoid the financial industry, I took the position with Elevate because their culture and opportunities were intriguing. After leaving Elevate, I took my current job in Cincinnati working for a marketing and data firm called Epsilon. The Institute was also the reason I was able to land this position. When I applied for the job, the recruiter saw that I graduated from the Institute, knew its reputation, and immediately gave me an interview. I am incredibly grateful for the doors the Institute has opened, as I greatly enjoy working in the marketing industry.

What does your role look like, day-to-day? What do you enjoy most about your work?

Bisenius: A few things I really enjoy about Elevate are the opportunity to work closely with many parts of the business and utilizing the full spectrum of data science for each strategy proposal. There is always something new to learn and incorporate into our work for optimal results, which means each day can look very different! Some days that includes a lot of coding to pull and clean data. Other days it’s looking at Tableau reports to understand historical findings, reading underwriting manuals, or building a PowerPoint deck. However, the best and most abundant days are spent brainstorming with coworkers, testing a few analytical approaches, and calculating impacts to the business. We all end our day in the office with an official round of cornhole — arguably the most intense part of the day! 🙂 

Edmonds: I usually spend most of my day coding and brainstorming next steps for projects, as well as answering emails and attending meetings like any other job. I have several small reporting projects that I repeat weekly, monthly, and quarterly, but I especially enjoy my larger projects that allow me to be creative in my analytical approach. So far, I have had the opportunity to build models, assist in segmenting customers for clients, and frequently design A/B testing strategies for marketing campaigns. The best part of my job is when I get a new client or project with a fresh data set that I get to explore and propose new ideas to assist the client.

What aspects of your MSA experience have been most valuable to you in your work and/or life?

Edmonds and Bisenius (center) with several of their MSA ’19 classmates.

Bisenius: From a work perspective, communication training and the knowledge of what to research have been the most valuable. I’ve been fortunate to be in a role with high exposure to upper management, including the Chief Credit Officer (CCO). It has been crucial to be able to take a data-driven proposal and frame a story around why it should be implemented. I would not be as successful in my role today if it weren’t for the communication training and presentations throughout the MSA! I’ve also learned that knowing what to research in order to tackle analytics is powerful. The MSA program teaches valuable information but since it’s quick, I did not master any one thing. I’ve found myself needing to go deeper into certain topics and grateful that we learned enough to have a really good base and how to research further.

From a life perspective, the friends and contacts that came out of the Institute have been the most valuable. It’s amazing I’m able to brainstorm tough analytics and drink a few beers with some of my best friends! 

Edmonds: I would say there are two things that I value the most from my MSA experience: the communication training and the connections. Through my work experience I have seen first-hand the importance of clearly communicating complex ideas. It is rare that anything we do in data science and analytics is straightforward for someone with a different educational background. But due to the importance of our work, it is on our shoulders to clearly communicate with every stakeholder, no matter their background. Thanks to the experience the MSA gave me, I was trusted early on in my job to handle communicating with clients and presenting to stakeholders, a skill that is highly valued at any company. 

Additionally, the connections of the MSA are incredibly valuable. As a student, I had the pleasure of interviewing with dozens of companies that trusted the reputation of the Institute over any other program. After graduating, I had hundreds of new connections to other companies through my fellow alumni. Finally, from a life standpoint, I know many of the friends and connections I made with my peers at the Institute will last a lifetime.

Finally, how do you like to spend your time outside of work?

Bisenius: I love finding new coffee shops in town. Prior to the pandemic it seemed like a new one opened every week in Fort Worth! I’ve recently been watching too much Great British Baking Show and have gotten into making savory breads and pastries. To counteract all the baked goods, I really enjoy running and biking along the river in Fort Worth — I’m slow but it’s so beautiful! However, my all-time favorite thing is game night and late night tacos. 🙂

Edmonds: I have always enjoyed playing soccer and basketball and have recently started biking. Almost every weekend I bike along the path that runs from Cincinnati to Columbus. Additionally, my fiancé — a fellow Institute alumnus — and I recently adopted a retired racing greyhound named Wally. His favorite activity is napping, so I like to oblige him and spend the entire afternoon on the couch binge watching TV shows after a long morning bike ride.