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Marketing Analytics Grad Student Forges Ahead

By Samantha Beavers

On the heels of obtaining his family’s first bachelor’s degree – and earning it as a full-time working adult, to boot – Matt McCann began his graduate studies in Poole College of Management’s new Master of Management, Marketing Analytics concentration (MMA).

“It’s a bit surreal that I worked so long to get my undergraduate degree and then immediately jumped into my graduate studies. But like Ted Lasso says, you have to believe! And in the long term, patience is key,” McCann says.

McCann’s decision to start the MMA program at NC State was an easy one – even though it took him a while to get there. In his final year at East Carolina University, he began exploring graduate programs in the UNC System but struggled to find the perfect fit.

“Did you ever hit F5 on your keyboard to refresh a website waiting for tickets to go on sale? Or check your mailbox daily waiting for a letter to arrive? That’s pretty much how I operated my entire senior year at ECU,” McCann says.

“Going to graduate school was already a yes in my mind, but I wanted to find a program that lined up with what I wanted and needed. Every month, I scanned websites and researched different programs. Finally, in the fall of 2021, I saw Poole’s marketing analytics program – and it was immediately clear that this program was the right choice,” he continues.

His path toward a degree in analytics, he says, is a unique one.

“For many years of my youth, I struggled with the few resources I had and with little time to spare for education. I had to make tough choices to work, eat and make rent instead of dedicating time to my studies. But I don’t see these personal struggles as a sad story – they’re what pushed me to be better,” McCann says.

“I then got to a point where I wanted more out of my career. I’ve always been wildly curious and interested in learning more about what I’m working with, how things tick and ways to improve and improvise. And so I became curious about why certain things happened at my company and the data behind it,” he continues.

So when McCann had an opportunity through his employer to take classes about Excel functionality at a local community college, he took it. 

Learning to manipulate data with Microsoft software, he became a resource for others at his company with data-driven needs. In time, that expertise paved a path toward his current role as a senior data analyst with Sealed Air, where he creates and manages data related to the vendor-managed inventory program.

“If you walk through a grocery store, you’ll see our products everywhere – like the bags that ribs are packed in and the film that wraps those giant blocks of cheese in the deli. We’re also famous for inventing bubble wrap,” McCann says. “Working in the packaging industry, it is imperative that we are accurate with our data, programming and insights drawn from these efforts so that our customers have what they need, when they need it, and so we can continue to grow and provide new services and updates.”

The MMA program, McCann says, allows him to grow in areas that will directly benefit his current role – including gaining exposure to programming with R, SAS and Python, learning more about consumer behavior and getting hands-on experience with big data analytics and data-driven decision making.

“Analytics are everywhere – and with this program, I saw an opportunity to accelerate my skill set for this important and growing field. I’m optimistic that what I am learning is directly applicable to my career and that I’ll be able to integrate my education into my day-to-day life immediately,” McCann says.

Beyond the rigor and practicality of the curriculum, McCann also appreciates the various experiences he gains in the classroom.

“The resources NC State has to offer are tremendous and I look forward to taking advantage of everything I can to make the most out of my time here,” he says. “And the opportunity to meet new people in my classes is unique, too. The students in this program come from diverse backgrounds, and getting their perspectives on different, industry-driven questions and seeing their skills on display continues to inspire me.”

Looking ahead, McCann is eager to be a stronger, more effective leader in his field – and to give back to help others achieve their goals. And at the end of the day, McCann credits his wife – not himself – for the success he’s found.

“She’ll probably groan to hear me say this, but I do think the most important part of my story is my wife. She lets me be me and makes me want to be better every day,” he says.