At IE University, our programs are designed to equip students with the tools to lead change in a fast-paced market. The Master in Business Analytics and Big Data helped Karen Bouez shift from her role in marketing to using her marketing skills in an analytics role. She recently told us about her IE Experience and her views on the sector.
Originally from Lebanon, Master in Business Analytics and Big Data alum Karen Bouez is no stranger to travel and international experiences. Her move to the data and analytics field was something that she instinctively felt would happen based on her experiences along the way, but her academic beginnings were far from the sector.
Karen was set to pursue an economics program at the American University of Beirut, but ultimately decided to study business instead. “In my mind, business would give me more options later on.” During her three-year program, she took a special interest in marketing. “I’m a creative person by nature, and marketing allows me to leverage my creative side.”
Her undergraduate program worked with data and its potential, which was how the first seed of the digital shift was planted for Karen.
Karen later took on a role at an advertising company. She worked in marketing and social media, but the data element still surrounded her as she was involved in engagement analytics and campaigns. She then took a brief role in consulting, where she began to understand that there are people in every industry with data skills. It was time for her to listen to the hints and pursue her interest in numbers and data.
Karen decided to move to Madrid to pursue the Master in Business Analytics and Big Data at IE University. She specifically chose IE University because she was ready to be part of the new, AI-driven world. “Back in 2019, the tech-driven world was still an idea that you read about on the internet. I wanted to ride the wave before it crashed.” The program gave her an understanding of data, coding, machine learning and everything in between, and she saw how companies were using these ideas in real-time. “We were learning with case studies from companies and actual data, which helped me understand how to make something out of the data in front of me.”
Moving to a new country can be a big cultural change, but for Karen, “The transition was smooth. Madrid is similar to how we live and think in Lebanon—the vibes are pretty much the same.” Karen enjoyed the food and the city, but she was also able to make local and international friends who helped her fully immerse herself. In fact, she loved Madrid and the people she met at IE University so much that she decided to stay for a while longer after graduation.
“My friends and I joined the IE Venture Lab as students, and then again as alumni. We even had mentors to help try to bring our idea to life.”
From marketing to data
Now living in Dubai, Karen has taken on a more technical role. “The Master in Business Analytics and Big Data played a huge part in this shift. The program was life-changing from all perspectives, both professional and personal.” She landed a role at Chalhoub Group, a retail luxury goods and jewelry company, as a senior people analytics analyst. Although she changed sectors, Karen still uses her marketing background every single day. Her mission is to make businesses think differently about their people, and although her title seems to indicate just one main role, Karen does a wide range of things during her day-to-day. “I’m a manager, I’m a data scientist, I’m a data analyst, I’m a data translator and I’m a consultant. I wear multiple hats at work and I enjoy it so much.” Karen was the first recruit of their small team. Although her company as a whole is made up of over 10,000 employees across eight countries, her small team is like a startup within the larger company. “The vision that we have is to build a center of excellence internally to help select the right way of working to solve problems using data.”
Her team works to change the perception of human resources. “It’s already changing and transforming—you won’t have people partners anymore, you will have people analytics consultants, who will help managers make decisions on people.” Using data and analytics, making decisions about people is no longer based on a gut feeling, but instead on proven results. “Big data is bringing a lot of value and changing the way HR is perceived. Before it was very transactional, and now it’s more strategic.”
Something for everyone
Karen believes that any curious person will benefit from the Master in Business Analytics and Big Data. “It’s a fast-moving field and if you don’t know something today, you’ll have that and 10 other things to learn tomorrow.” She would also tell future students to engage as much as possible with the courses, the professors and their classmates. “I think the program will give you as much as you give it—so be ready to go the extra mile.” Because the program is so diverse, she also notes that it’s helpful and meaningful to expand your network.
“Your network is your worth, both professionally and personally. I am still connected to my friends from the program, and I’m very grateful for that.”
According to Karen’s experience: “No matter your background—whether it’s business, technical, engineering, consulting, communications or marketing—you can learn and later take on a data science role. Plus, you’ll be fit for the future. Who doesn’t want that?” Karen urges students considering the program to simply go for it. “The program is life-changing—it’s going to change the way you see the world. Take advantage of it. It’s short and it’s rewarding, and it will change your life like it did mine.”