A Fantastic Education: Video Transcript

Brian Sampsel (MS Statistics, Miami, 2003) [leads an analytics team for the marketing department of Express]: My degree in statistics helped me in my career by just giving me a broad base of the entire field. While I was here, we covered numerous topics, and it's interesting because I have almost run into an application of every class I took here in some manner. And so, just having that basis of knowledge to build off of has been really helpful and allowed me to, you know, then take what I have learned here and expand it and continue on with it.

It's probably surprising working in some of the industries I have that you would use statistics, because it's not a field that people normally associate with stats, but we use it all the time.

One of the areas we use statistics for in marketing is we send out what are called direct mail pieces every month, and it's kind of like a mini-catalogue to showcase the new products that we are selling. Historically, the products that get pictured in the piece — there's a whole process to choose those, but a lot of it is gut feel, and what do we think is the latest fashion, and what do we believe is going to be the 'it' thing this year. We've been bringing in statistics and some forecasting and more of a quantitative basis for that to say, "What is the value of that if we put this shirt on the cover versus this other shirt, and what is the value of using this model to wear the shirt versus this other model?" And trying to really understand the value of different products, what we can expect from that as well. So really, putting a quantitative lens on something that has historically really been kind of a gut feel and more of creative decision.

One of the great experiences I had here at Miami was participating in the Statistical Consulting Center. It gave me a great experience that I've been able to use in my career because we would go out and meet with professors from other departments. One of the projects that I remember is working with a professor from the audiology department and learning about her field and learning about the studies she was trying to do, and what questions she was trying to answer. We were able to come in and help her answer some of those questions using some of the techniques we learned in class. And this is really exactly what I do every day now. I work with people from branding and creative and store operations and try to understand the questions they are asking and then the data available and the best way to answer that.

Having a broad base of knowledge, and being exposed to a lot of different things is extremely valuable now. I know in business it's the ability to work with people from other departments, other areas of the business, is invaluable. Having some kind of knowledge base around their perspective and where they're coming from and the questions they might be asking is a huge benefit. And I think the liberal arts education gives you that. It gives you an understanding of what other people are doing and what other people are thinking and how they may approach a problem.

I really enjoyed my time being here at Miami. It was a fantastic education and really gave me a great foundation for moving forward in my career. I really enjoyed the statistics program. There are so many opportunities right now for people with a quantitative background, whether that be math or statistics or economics or any of those fields. There is so much opportunity right now, and I know my degree and my time here gave me a great foundation to go pursue a number of those opportunities.

[October 2014]