Alumni Spotlight

Christa Hammond

Major/Emphasis: Statistics (BS & MS)
Current Position Title: Data Scientist

Company Name: Oracle Data Cloud

Why she picked her major:

I took AP Stats and really liked it, declared a biostats undergrad major before my first day, and loved it more with every class!

How schooling helped prepare her for her current position:

I don't use a lot of distributional theory in my day-to-day, but I use other skills every day - the ability to program, to think linearly, to perform data analyses, to clearly communicate my findings, and most of all to figure out how to do hard things that I've never done before.

Her advice to those currently studying:

Apply for a lot of different kinds of jobs! I do data analysis in the digital media marketing field - something I had no experience in - but my real interest is playing with data and you can do that in almost any field. I love my job. We come recruiting every fall - keep your eye out for our info session at the department!

Richard Giberson

Major/Emphasis: Actuarial Science (BS)
Current Position Title: Partner/Investment Program Manager

Company Name: Aon Hewitt Investment Consulting

Why he picked his major:

In high school, I had planned to go into engineering but by the time of graduation that no longer appealed to me. That summer, the BYU Statistics Department sent me information about the program and an invitation to an honors section of the first statistics course. I read up on statistical science, decided it was a perfect fit for me, and declared myself a statistics major before showing up on campus as a freshman.

My first statistics course was taught by Dennis Tolley, and I was hooked. Through Dr. Tolley, I also learned about actuarial science. The combination of finance, risk and quantitative analysis was attractive to me, and actuarial science became the entry point to my career path.

How schooling helped prepare him for his current position:

In my current position, I oversee investment portfolios for corporate pension plans, typically sized from $100 million up to $5 billion. We work with our clients to design the investment strategy, and then we implement the strategy and monitor the portfolio. The strategies are customized to fit the pension plan’s actuarial liabilities. My schooling directly helped me prepare for exams leading to important professional credentials: Fellow, Society of Actuaries (FSA), as well as CFA charterholder. In terms of my day-to-day work, I will admit that I rarely use the statistical techniques that I studied in school. But my years in the Statistics Department were absolutely crucial to my career success. What I learned was how to think analytically, how to work with data, how to discern patterns and anomalies, and how to build quantitative models.

His advice to those currently studying:

I hope you love your major like I did. But get a broad education! Take courses in other areas of interest. Take advantage of all that BYU has to offer. This is an amazing opportunity that you have!

Finally, learn to communicate. A lot of students will graduate with the quantitative foundation to start them on a good career. But in the long run, those with superior writing or presentation skills will rise to the top. Learn how to communicate technical topics to a non-technical audience.