Clay Daniel

"It has taught me how to translate what this data says into real-world speech that anyone can understand"

Business Analytics & Statistics - Student

Recognizing his fascination with logistics and operations, Clay Daniel decided to attend the Haslam College of Business as an undergraduate in supply chain management. Halfway through the program, he added analytics and graduated with a double major.

As an undergraduate, Daniel interned for Disney, Boeing and Delta Air Lines and gained a broader perspective on his career plans. “My internships were primarily in supply chain, and I realized I loved the supply chain side of analytics, not just the predictive modeling,” he says. “How can we get something done, and what can numbers tell us about it?”

When Daniel returned to Haslam to begin the MSBA program, he met a new set of academic challenges. “When I describe the program to people, I say we don’t become an expert in any one thing, but pretty good at lots of things,” he says. “We cover traditional statistics, optimization and efficiency, data mining and more. Of those, my favorite is optimization because there’s a very clear problem to solve.”

Daniel also appreciates the soft skills he’s gained through the program. “It has taught me how to translate what this data says into real-world speech that anyone can understand,” he says. “Maybe that means we can’t convey every detail about the data, but how do we communicate our findings verbally, textually and visually?”

This summer, Daniel will intern with Disney’s technology team in Orlando, Florida. “This group is responsible for all technology at Disney parks around the world, including staffing systems, electricity and other infrastructure any major organization has,” he says. “We’re going to be doing analysis on how can we predict whether future technology is successful within the parks.”

Daniel says he’s not sure where his analytics career will take him after graduation, but he wants people to be central to his role. “For me, analytics is not the end-all,” he says. “It’s about people—what does this data tell us about our customer, our passenger or about what the operations of the company is doing? How can we use these numbers in ways that impact people in positive ways? Those are the kinds of questions I want to answer.”