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Tuesday, June 11, 2019 - 9:45am
Dobbs Ferry Campus

Mercy College hosted a panel of business professionals at an event on April 5 entitled “Transforming Business with the Use of Data Analytics, AI, Blockchain and More,” which aimed to educate attendees about current trends and tools in the data analytics field. The event — which was co-sponsored by the Westchester/Fairfield Chapter of the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) — drew approximately 60 attendees, both students and professionals.

Tahsin Korur ’18, MBA ’20, explained why he attended: “I wanted to see how professional accountants were applying high-level analytic skills and using artificial intelligence. You get into theory a lot when you’re in school, but it’s nice to hear about more practical things, too, like the specific software that professionals are using today.”

The panelists included: Mike Money, director in information technology risk, information security and privacy practice at Protiviti; John Myers, vice president of IT audit at PepsiCo; Jennifer Eigo, associate director of external relations at the Center for the Advancement of Business Analytics at the University of Connecticut; Justin Szot, risk consulting senior associate at KPMG; Jesse Fu, director of tax reporting and strategy at PwC; and Charles Steiz, professional practices manager and data scientist at Synchrony Financial.

Undergraduate Dzifa Amexo ’21, who is majoring in Finance and Data Analytics at Mercy’s School of Business, appreciated the panel’s composition: “I think it was great that all the panelists had diverse roles and backgrounds. I'm not an accounting major, but everything they said was still very relatable to me.”

Moderator Chuck Windeknecht — vice president of internal audit at Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings — guided the panel discussion, but there were also many opportunities for attendees to ask questions. Panelists began by explaining what data analytics is, its purpose and its importance. They then discussed current trends in data analytics and how analytics is transforming business. Panelists also gave advice directly to students, recommending what they need to know in order to secure a great job after graduation and perform well, even getting specific enough to recommend certain software such as Tableau. Panelists and attendees stayed for about 45 minutes after the event to chat and connect. “It was great networking,” said Denise Stefano, Associate Professor of Accounting.

Attendees walked away with a deeper understanding of the power of analytics and artificial intelligence (AI). “One of the panelists said that AI will inevitably get rid of interns and first-year associates for most positions,” Korur said. “That’s how disruptive the people in this space believe it is. I’d like to think that as tasks like that become more mundane and easier to accomplish with AI, the market will adjust so that instead of doing data entry, an intern would now do review. And to be honest, I think that’s a great thing. Why shouldn’t an intern do higher-level work?”

Some attendees took the panelists’ advice to heart. Amexo recounted, “At the end of the panel, the moderator said, ‘All of these skills, they’re not going to be good unless you actually practice them, so figure out a way to use them.’ So I decided to use Tableau in a recent class project just to build up my skills again. I thought that was a really good call to action.”

Stefano was pleased to note that Mercy’s business programs are already emphasizing many of the elements that panelists mentioned.

“In the School of Business right now, we just added a new undergraduate concentration in Data Analytics. And in the Accounting Information Systems class in our Accounting Program, we do a project in Tableau,” Stefano noted. “The fact that our programs are already emphasizing lots of things the panelists mentioned speaks well of Mercy, both internally for current students and externally for companies that can see that Mercy is truly on the cutting edge.”

The School of Business brings in a wide variety of industry professionals through events like this data analytics panel and the Executive Speaker Series, in which recent speakers have included leaders from companies such as Facebook, JP Morgan, Google, Essie Cosmetics, Accenture, ESPN and Disney. Students find great value in hearing from business professionals and leaders.

“Honestly, the events are one of the major reasons that I chose to come to Mercy and attend the School of Business,” Amexo explained. “The opportunities for active learning are so immense.”