Alumni Spotlight

Doug Hicken

Major/Emphasis: Statistics - Business Analysis
Current Position Title: Director of Operations
Company Name: Chatbooks

Why he picked his major:

I have always had an inclination towards math. However, I knew I wanted to learn a form of math that had real world applications and opened a lot of doors to different roles, industries, etc. As soon as I took Stats 221 with Dr. Reese I knew I had found just that. I immediately declared my major.

How schooling helped prepare him for his current position:

My schooling gave me familiarity with data, analytics, advanced modeling and software. Statistics has a certain way to address questions and think about problems. This positioned me perfectly to join Accenture as a BI analyst in the financial services sector. My experience during those years set me up for a successful MBA experience and a solid background/foundation to join a business intelligence software company. That combined with my passion for startups and my experience in entrepreneurship and venture capital created a perfect storm for me to end up where I am today.

His advice to those currently studying:

Statistics is a broad subject with many applications in many different industries. The earlier you can identify your long term goal and where you want to be, the sooner you can start working towards that specific goal. Don't take a job because it'll be good experience. Only take the job, the class, the project, if it aligns with your long-term vision for your career. It's your life, put yourself in the driver seat and consciously make the decisions that are the best for you and your career.


Jessica Langford

Major/Emphasis: BS Actuarial Science, BS Economics, MS Statistics
Current Position Title: Senior Consultant/Data Science Team Lead
Company Name: Adobe

Why she picked her major:

I always wanted a job where I could use statistics. I thought I would get that being an actuary. I found that there was very little statistical work in the field (super disappointing!). So I came back to school to get a Masters degree and expand my opportunities.

How schooling helped prepare her for her current position:

The master's program was great preparation for my current position. It taught me to think critically and creatively. I use statistical techniques every day in my work.

Her advice to those currently studying:

Get a master’s degree (even if you want to be an actuary) or higher. We studied so many different statistical techniques in the master’s program that you just don't get exposure to in the undergrad program. Not only is it really interesting and fun to learn all these different models, it will also help you stand out in the job field. Also... there is a high demand for people who can handle big data using tools like Hadoop and Spark. People who have the cross section of skills between computer science (like Hadoop and Spark) and statistics are industry unicorns. If you can do those things, you can write your own ticket to wherever you want to work.