Degree: MS, Business Analytics
Class Year: 2019
Position and Employer: Data Scientist, CompassRed
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Eugene Olkhov came to Drexel LeBow’s MS in Business Analytics with a passion for data and experimentation honed through research assistant roles at University of Pennsylvania and Temple University. Though he had successfully published several academic papers, he had seen research funding sources come and go, and sought to make a pivot: “I wanted to be in industry, and I wanted to have an impact on businesses.”
Key to making this transition were student consulting projects organized through the Center for Business Analytics. Working with Hande Benson, professor of decision sciences and MIS, as his advisor, Olkhov took on a data-heavy project for a financial institution and, for his graduation capstone, a forecasting project for a major utility company; he recently presented his experiences working on both projects for LeBow’s inaugural Business Consulting Forum.
These experiences gave Olkhov additional exposure to project management and to managing client relationships, particularly in translating technical needs to a non-technical client. “That’s what really differentiates these projects from just taking classes,” he says.
Olkhov came to LeBow with experience in both research and data, first at Penn in behavioral economics and evolutionary psychology, and then in consumer behavior at Temple. The Temple job gave him experience in the R programming language, a foundational building block for serious analytics study.
“I knew Drexel’s reputation, and I knew that [Business Analytics] was an evolving program,” he says. “I had friends who went here for undergrad, so I knew about co-op and their push for experiential learning.”
In these roles, and in his undergraduate studies in psychology, Olkhov says, “I was asking questions and forming hypotheses. Now, I’m still thinking: What’s the question? What’s the aspect of the business we could improve on?”
Along with business improvement, his role at CompassRed is prompting him to focus on self-improvement and skill building: ”I’m trying to improve my understanding of the complex math behind some of the more complicated techniques. I come from an applied statistics background, and I know how to use these techniques, but learning the more math heavy ones at a lower level is ultimately the goal.”
He adds that he was spurred on this path of discovery through the Multivariate Analysis class taught by Assistant Professor of Business Analytics Matthew Schneider. “He showed us everything and taught us both the math and how to apply the techniques to answer questions.”
After interning at CompassRed before his March 2019 graduation, Olkhov secured a full-time position through making connections with alumni: Ryan Harrington, a data scientist and a 2018 MS in Business Analytics graduate and Patrick Callahan, CompassRed’s CEO and another LeBow graduate.
He moved from a part-time internship focused on a specific project to a full-time role as a data scientist, approaching analytics from a more strategic, product-focused perspective. “I’m thrilled I could get this title now,” he says. “A lot of it is juggling projects and client work, with some business development on the side as well.”
“That’s really what I was pushing for: to make a difference.”