Alumni Spotlight

Chris Peterson

Major/Emphasis: Statistics, Statistical Science (BS)
Current Position Title: Vice President, Data Science.  Assistant Chief Model Risk Officer
Company Name: Capital One

Why he picked his major:

Several friends from my freshman year (Shane Reese, Todd Nelson, Lance Milner) had already decided to major in Statistics and they each recommended I give Statistics a try. At the time I was debating whether to continue in my dual Math/Physics major but decided to give it a try. The next semester I took Dr. Grimshaw's 222 evening section and was hooked after the first class.

How schooling helped prepare him for his current position:

The coursework at BYU provided a solid foundation from which I've been able to continually grow my skillset. I've had the privilege to work with and hire people from many universities and have found my BYU education to be on par, if not better that what I've seen elsewhere.

His advice to those currently studying:

Learn everything you can. I've been able to leverage something from each of my classes at BYU (yes, even Humanities 101!). Make learning a habit. Try to learn something new every day.

Tomohiko Funai

Major/Emphasis: Statistics (BS & MS) 
Current Position Title: : Asia-Pacific Statistical Science Senior Associate
Company Name: Eli Lilly Japan K.K.

Why he picked his major:

In the UK, where I attended high school, the curriculum for Mathematics was divided into three: Pure (Calculus), Mechanics (Applied Physics), and Statistics. I enjoyed the Statistics portion of the curriculum the most. I was fascinated with how much we can do with data. After I was able to successfully apply my statistical knowledge (such as sampling methods, use of confidence intervals and P-values) for my high school Geography class projects, I knew that I wanted to study Statistics in College.

How schooling helped prepare him for his current position:

Aside from a wide range of classes that are being offered at the Statistics Department, my academic experiences were enriched by the opportunity to network with other students and (more importantly) many professors with variety of research backgrounds. Statistics is often considered a “flexible profession” which is a double edged sword—Statistics allows you to look for jobs in many different fields, but it requires you to quickly become “more than familiar” once you enter into that specific field. Networking allowed me to gain knowledge and expand my understanding about various fields where Statistics could be applied.

His advice to those currently studying:

Understanding statistical methods and performing the analysis is merely a half job done as a Statistician. What separates a mediocre statistician from an excellent Statistician is the ability to convey/explain complex methods and analysis results with simplicity and with accuracy to non-statisticians. My advice is, regardless of what class it is for, if you were offered an opportunity to give presentations, take it; if there is an statistical consulting opportunities, take it. Always aim to improve your presentation and communication skills.
Also, if you learned or are learning a new language, keep it up. In recent years, more Statisticians are playing important roles in many global companies than even before. You will have a unique competitive advantage as a Statistician if you know more than one language.