Marketing Analytics Grad Student Lands Internal Promotion Mid-Program
By Samantha Beavers
For Azik Basheer, starting the Master of Management, Marketing Analytics (MMA) program at NC State was an important step forward in his career. While working as a partner operations manager with Cisco Systems, Inc. – where he helped some of Cisco’s top partners identify lead times, product renewals and opportunities to increase revenue – he recognized an increasing focus on analytics to drive decision-making. Eager to keep up with the evolving marketplace and maximize the data at his fingertips, Basheer started exploring opportunities to sharpen his skill set.
He completed an introduction to Google Analytics class with Coursera, introduction to SQL class with Udemy and introduction to Python class with the University of Michigan – but quickly realized he would benefit from a master’s program.
“Because those online courses were self-paced, I found myself either cramming the content in a week or spreading it out over seven months. I knew that I needed more structure, so I started looking into master’s programs in analytics. Rather than just taking courses to get them done, I wanted to make sure I was really learning,” Basheer explains.
His search led him to the MMA program at Poole College of Management. Blending together analytics and marketing, the program allowed him to expand his technical skills – and dive deeper into the world of marketing, too. “As an in-state program offering the two things I was really interested in, it just seemed like a perfect fit,” Basheer says.
And for Basheer, the program began paying off just a few months in. This past summer, he started a new position as a business analyst for Cisco’s Customer Experience (CX) Services.
“In my new role, I work more closely with program managers, product managers and engineers to make sure our different teams make necessary changes to accomplish the company’s strategic priorities – and then pull the key metrics together to present to our executive leadership team,” Basheer explains.
“Being enrolled in the MMA program played a huge part in this internal promotion. During my interviews, they shared that they had noticed it on my resume and specifically asked me about it. I explained that since I didn’t have a strong background in analytics, I decided to join the program to boost my analytics skills. I think that willingness to learn and try something new helped me stand out,” he continues.
Already, Basheer has found several opportunities to apply the program curriculum to this new role at Cisco. In particular, his courses have taught him the importance of data selection and data visualization.
“Rather than presenting as many metrics as possible, I’m learning how to identify what’s most important for our executive team and how to compile it in a better, more visual way,” Basheer explains.
In addition to the course curriculum, Basheer has also been impressed by the program staff’s commitment to students – as well as the number of resources available for networking and career growth.
“I love how connected we are with the staff. Allison Anthony is always emailing us about different programs and events and making sure we have what we need – so they really take care of the students and keep us informed about what’s going on. A lot of us are distance education students and they do a great job of making sure we’re involved with the program and university,” Basheer says.
“The career center also reaches out with different resources – whether that’s a career growth seminar or an opportunity to set up a call with a career coach and get feedback on your resume,” he continues.
He also appreciates how both the MMA program and his job feed his curiosity and desire to embrace new challenges.
“When I got hired for my new position, they said ‘I hope you like chaos, because that’s the only thing that’s constant.’ Everyday is something different. And I really like that,” Basheer says. “I’m a very curious person and I love to learn and grow. I’m always looking for things that keep me on my toes, so being able to solve problems with data has been really great.”
Looking ahead, he’s eager to leverage this new skill set to make smarter business decisions in his new role. And as someone with a longtime passion for marketing – first sparked by Nike ads like “The Jogger” and “The Last Game” that grabbed his attention in high school and taught him the power of storytelling and persuasion – he’s also excited about future opportunities to meet consumers where they are with products that add value and messages that resonate.
“I’m excited about having the data skills I need to understand how consumers will respond to different products and services – and how I can improve and market them more effectively,” Basheer says. “And I’m excited about opportunities to advance my career. I think I’d be really happy to become a director of marketing down the road. That’s the end goal.”