Ross MBAs Beat Out 150 Other Teams to Take First Place at National Analytics Challenge

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A team of three Michigan Ross MBAs emerged victorious in a national competition to come up with new solutions in the field of data analytics.

Rajiv Khattar, Erica Kirshensteyn, and Rei Liao, all first-year MBAs, won first place and a $35,000 cash prize in the Adobe Analytics Challenge during the finals in Lehi, Utah. The two-week competition initially included 150 teams from 70 schools across the country.

Adobe sponsors this competition in part to find new talent. There is a big demand for data analysts today, and qualified employees remain hard to find. Adobe provides the students with real-world data from companies such as Condé Nast, Comcast, and PlayStation, and they are tasked with producing solutions to real problems. More than 30 students have been hired from this competition since Adobe first sponsored it 11 years ago.

Adobe also provided a new enterprise-level tool, Adobe Analysis Workplace, to help the competitors. “It was the epitome of action-based learning,” Khattar said. “Some of us hadn't been exposed to marketing web analytics before, and we had the opportunity to use real company data to learn what is important for companies and how to explain our analysis to a diverse set of stakeholders.”

“In a world that is increasingly generating incredible amounts of data, it's critical for companies to be able to use that data in a meaningful way to make strategic decisions,” said Kirshensteyn, who is also a student at the Tauber Institute for Global Operations. “Being able to analyze historical data, derive key insights, and contextualize the ‘why’ and ‘what’s next’ of those insights, allows businesses to make better-informed decisions for the future.”

Congratulations to the team. Go Blue!