Student Spotlight: Aquent Practicum Team

Students in NC State’s Master of Science in Analytics (MSA) Class of 2021 are already halfway through their eight-month practicum projects! Before enjoying a well-deserved winter break, the practicum teams will deliver midpoint presentations to their project sponsors, highlighting their findings thus far and intended next steps to solve the business problems at hand.

This month, we’d like you to meet the Aquent practicum team. Founded in 1986, Boston-based Aquent is the world’s largest creative staffing agency. A first-time sponsor of an MSA practicum project, Aquent serves complex, global brands, including two-thirds of the Fortune 500. 

The Aquent practicum team, moments after delivering their midpoint presentation to the Institute faculty.

“When we were first assigned our groups for the practicum project, I was so excited to see that my teammates had technical expertise, project management experience, and eagerness to learn,” said Fiz Lokku, team lead. “But my favorite part about working with this team is learning what constitutes each other as individuals. After spending so much time together, learning their sense of humor, and hearing about their passion for art, music, language and nature — I have a sense of connection with my teammates, which I am really grateful for in this virtual environment.”

During her undergraduate career at the University of Cincinnati, where she earned degrees in business analytics and operations management, Yuejie Chen and her professor initiated and conceived a research project about meta-analysis in clinical trials. Yuejie also served as a teaching assistant for a statistical computing course and was actively involved in social justice and community service organizations on campus. When she’s not transforming data analysis into aesthetically pleasing visualizations, Yuejie, a native of China, hones her artistic eye through Gouache painting and sketching.

As a mechanical engineering major at NC State, Zain Kazi’s interest in analytics stemmed from his study of technology design and production. Undergraduate internships with Collins Aerospace and Merck afforded Zain firsthand perspective on the broad applications of data science — from understanding how aircraft seat design impacts passenger safety, to ensuring vaccine manufacturing processes meet appropriate quality standards. In his free time, Zain enjoys spending time with family and playing soccer and other sports with friends. 

After completing a bachelor’s degree in financial mathematics at Wilfrid Laurier University in his native Canada, Fiz Lokku spent five years working as a bond trader at TD Securities. He helped launch the asset-backed securities desk in New York, single-handedly growing its client base, trading the product, and developing tools that allowed the branch to be successful. In his spare time Fiz enjoys nature, reading, watching movies, and boxing. He won his first amateur boxing bout in 2018 while fundraising for Fighters 4 Life, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting at-risk youth in New York.

While completing his undergraduate degree in statistics and analytics at UNC-Chapel Hill, Conner Mann was chair of ticketing and database operations for Carolina Fever. In that role, he increased fan engagement by analyzing athletic event attendance data. He also consulted with a local physical therapy clinic on their data collection and storage practices, and spent three summers interning with the Enterprise Data and Analytics Team at SAS. For fun, Conner enjoys golf, bread baking, finding new coffee shops, and playing guitar in a local rock band called The Northbounds.

After earning her bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Hanne Richardson began her career as a lab manager at Boston University in a leading lung biology research laboratory. In this role for nearly three years, Hanne supported her colleagues’ work while taking on her own research project studying a rare genetic mutation. Her growing interest in bioinformatics motivated Hanne to broaden her data analytics and communication skills in the MSA. In her free time, Hanne loves hiking, collecting tropical houseplants, and sharing coffee and conversation with friends.