Rob Rivens

Location: Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas

Current Employer/Occupation: Alcon Laboratories/Business Intelligence/Data Science Architect

What have you been up to since completing the program?

Since graduation (in December ’18), I have transitioned into a leadership role with Alcon Laboratories. I am also planning on pursuing a doctorate of education in organizational change and leadership in the fall of ’19.

How have you implemented the skills and tools learned in the program at your current job?

Professionally, I have leveraged much of the content I learned in the program by implementing transformational strategies in the fields of advanced machine learning and predictive analytics. My team is responsible for implementing innovative technological strategies in order to improve enterprise productivity, seize market-share growth opportunities and improve the bottom line by optimizing corporate spend.

How has earning a master’s in data science helped you in your career?

Earning a master’s has helped me gain credibility by demonstrating the ability to complete a rigorous, multidisciplinary program from one of the top universities in the area. When people hear that I obtained my degree from SMU, they immediately nod with recognition and approval. Complementing my professional experiences with such a sound educational experience has solidified my résumé.

Did you have a favorite class or project in the program?

I enjoyed Statistics I and II as well as Quantifying the World. These courses were very eye-opening and – being the beginning and the end – were great courses to serve as the foundation and culmination of the program, respectively.

What is the most valuable thing you learned while in the program?

The most valuable takeaway is that there are various ways to attack data science problems, but the consistent goal is always to drive the organization forward by providing enterprise value.

What advice do you have for currently enrolled students?

Currently enrolled students should leverage their cohort but also should seek further study through personal research and continuous learning. The more one can immerse him/herself in course content, the more value one can add to class discussions and case-study work.

Where would you like to see yourself and your career in 10 years?

In 10 years, I’d like to be at the vice-president level in my company, applying learnings from my master’s and doctoral work to transform my organization in the realm of data science. Organizations must change or they will be left behind! I plan to be a driver of that change!