After graduating with his Master of Science in Business Analytics from the Haslam College of Business in 2015, Ryan Erwin joined PwC as an analytics associate. His first project at the firm was working on a team to build an app to make financial due diligence easier.
“That took about six months and I was using Python, VBA, Excel and sometimes R,” Erwin says. “Next, we had a short-term project focused on web comments on one of our internal sites.”
For that assignment, Erwin’s team used Python to pull down users’ comments using web scraping and natural language processing techniques. “We did topic models and analysis and packaged all that info into a Tableau dashboard,” says Erwin. “Then we presented it back to the stakeholders, and they’re now using it for decision-making.”
Since joining the organization, Erwin has worked primarily on mergers and acquisitions, specifically divestitures. “As a curious person, I’ve jumped at every opportunity,” he says. “I’m actually transferring into our finance and risk group, where I hope to bring my technical skills to finance-related problems.”
Erwin enjoys the variety of projects he’s been able to work on at PwC. “I feel like my time as an MSBA student at Haslam equipped me with a wide range of analytical techniques, from traditional statistics to machine learning. Because of that training, I can approach a problem from many different angles.”
A big-picture approach to business problems is another important take-away from the business analytics program, Erwin says. “You have to understand why you’re doing something and what value you’re getting out of it,” he says. “I have to not only look at data, but understand how it can be applied to a business problem.”
As Erwin moves forward in his career, he’d like to stay in consulting.
“The career path is very structured here, which helps you work harder,” he says. “One great advantage of working in a large firm is that there are experts in every area here, and so many directions I could take my career.”
Currently, Erwin is interested in developing his knowledge of finance function. “That would include treasury, financial planning, and analysis,” he says. “I always hold onto the analytics perspective along the way.”