From a young age, Christian Clarke ’17/M.S. ’20 had never considered himself a “math” person, but he could never deny the role of numbers in everyday life. “If you can find the numbers, there’s almost always a pattern or a formula to explain what’s happening,” said Clarke.
His interest in numbers led Clarke to pursue his B.S. in Mathematical Finance (offered by the Stillman School of Business in collaboration with the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science) and ultimately, a career as an analyst. After graduation, Clarke applied analytical skills to multiple industries including retail, healthcare and consumer goods.
“Analytics was a natural extension of my curiosity for wanting to understand the ‘why’ of things. Once I was in my first analyst role, I wanted to know more about the industry and how to grow into it,” reflected Clarke.
That curiosity led Clarke to begin his graduate studies at a different university. “I wanted to grow in my career, and after a bit of research, I found out about data science and the rest is history,” said Clarke.
While similar to data analytics, data science takes analyzed data sets one step further by not only finding trends and solutions, but also using data visualization tools and programming languages to ask questions, make predictions and build statistical models.
However, as a graduate student, Clarke felt the initial program he enrolled in wasn’t the right fit for him and began exploring other options. In his research, he learned his alma mater had launched a new program – the online M.S. in Data Science. After a few conversations with the program’s director, Manfred Minimair, Ph.D., Clarke knew “it was where I needed to be.”
“Seton Hall’s program stood out more than any other program because it was focused on being hands-on and working with real-world applications like Tableau,” noted Clarke. “While theory was explored, everything always came back to an actual application.”
That relationship between the education in the virtual classroom and its direct relevance to his career is what stood out to Clarke the most: “I wanted to be able to create impact at work continuously and as soon as possible,” said Clarke. At the time, Clarke worked as a Business Intelligence Analyst at Aero OpCo where he established eCommerce reporting structures, automated reporting and analyzed trends to sustain the operational efficiency of the business.
As a student and full-time employee, Clarke found a middle ground of professional and personal growth: “It was very common for me to do something in class and then start a new project centered around that learning at work. The distance between what you learn in the classroom and what it will look like in the job is minimal.”
Having completed his degree in 2020, Clarke now supports the language learning application Babbel as a Business Analytics Manager, where he continues to mine and analyze information to improve business decision-making. Today, Clarke still focuses on the numbers, but he keeps an important “philosophy change” he experienced as a student in his back pocket: letting the data tell its own story.
“Not everyone spends their days in numbers like I do, and the program showed me different ways of visualizing data. It changed how I show data to others in charts and other methods and my colleagues are always thankful for that,” commented Clarke.
In addition to report building and data deep-dives for his marketing and product partners, Clarke assists in higher-level business analysis, transforming the numbers to strategic business insights as a data scientist.
“If a particular channel has been crushing it with great sales, then I dive into that area to better understand why that’s happening, how long do we could maintain it and most importantly, how can we replicate this later on,” said Clarke. “The best data scientists are just curious and want to know the why behind things; they treat everything like a puzzle to be solved and go about solving it by whatever means necessary.”