Alumni Spotlight: Heather Hubbard Morgan

December 13, 2017

Morgan (MSBA ’15) was in the midst of a successful career as CFO of a local bank when she became enamored with analytics.

“I read a book called ‘Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-by-Numbers Is the New Way to be Smart’ by Ian Ayres, and it pretty much changed the trajectory of my career,” she says. “I was comfortable in my role in community banking (I was the CFO at the time), but I could see that the world was changing, and I didn’t want to be left behind.”

After reading the book, Morgan learned that UT had started one of the first master’s programs in business analytics, and she got in touch with then-department chair Ken Gilbert to learn how she could get involved.

“I just couldn’t get it out of my head,” she says. “As CFO and COO at the bank, I had a bunch of data, but I didn’t know how to query the database. I didn’t know how to apply statistical methods to make any sense of it.”

Morgan’s motivation to learn analytics brought her to the Master of Science in Business Analytics program as a full-time student in 2014. Her enthusiasm prompted her sisters, Hayley Hubbard and Happy Hubbard Stamper, also to pursue MSBA degrees at the Haslam College of Business.

Since graduating in 2015, Morgan has served as trade marketing associate manager for Bush Brothers and Company.

“It’s a function that’s unique to the consumer packaged goods industry,” she says. “We set the national strategy for pricing and promotion of their products.”

Although Morgan’s role is focused on interpreting models created by others, a working knowledge of the data science is vital.

“I have to understand what’s happening in the model — it’s not sufficient just to get an output,” she says. “I have to rely on my education to answer questions that people are asking me, and to explain the limitations of the model.”

Morgan has found that the ability to translate data into actionable insights is key to success.

“Even if your data analysis is really good, it doesn’t help the business unless you can do something with it,” she says. “And then you have to make sure that your message is clearly communicated so that the customer will be more likely to make the recommended changes to the business plan.”

During her time in the MSBA program, Morgan benefited most from interacting with faculty and fellow students. “The faculty were always available for us,” she says. “And now that I’m out here doing something with my degree, I see opportunities everywhere for applying analytics.”