Dr. Robert Polding has an impressive academic and professional profile spanning over 25 years in multiple industries. He has worked as a project manager, developer and CTO in various organizations.

Robert has also put multiple years into academia, working as a professor in multiple top-flight institutions before finally making his way to IE University, where he is now the academic director of the Bachelor in Data and Business Analytics program.

In recent years, the business landscape has undergone a massive evolution, driven mostly by innovation and data. Now more than ever, businesses need access to huge volumes of quality data to be competitive in the digital age. But, more than that, they require real insights into market trends and consumer behavior to guide their strategy. As a firm believer in the importance of data, Robert is committed to training the next crop of leaders—savvy in the intricacies of both business and data analytics. Here’s what he has to say about the future of data. 

How would you describe the Bachelor in Data and Business Analytics?

The Bachelor in Data and Business Analytics is a cross-discipline program that balances mathematics, computer science and business domain knowledge. It’s for people who want to work in data analytics and be able to make data models, which will lead to better decision-making skills. At the core of this is that they become good communicators, as well as just good engineers. 

The structure of the program is that, in the first year, we give them context. We take students through a variety of classes—in statistics, social science, business and more—where they learn to apply their skills.  They achieve more proficiency in the second and third years. Year two focuses on more advanced subjects like computer science, development and coding. And, in the third year, we get even more rigorous and focus on the really high-level skills including machine learning, and applying what they’ve learned to real-world projects. 

In the fourth and final year, we start to introduce a lot more of the business aspects so that, when they go into their careers, they have the necessary experience—they’ve applied all of the theory and actually have a context to put it all in. They focus on building domain knowledge specific to different parts of business. They apply the rigorous skills they’ve learned in the context of different types of businesses. They also get the chance to choose what they study from various organizations in a set of electives. This allows them to learn about where they’re actually going to apply it so that, when they go into their careers, they’re ready to go. They have the skills necessary to do the analysis and then help businesses make decisions.

The Bachelor in Data and Business Analytics is a cross-discipline program; we have a balance of mathematics, computer science and business domain knowledge.

What makes this program unique? 

It’s unique because, compared to other engineering degrees, we produce people who will work more directly with employees. Not just people who will sit in front of a computer, code and produce amazing applications; but ones who will work and deliver, not just strategies, but tools with which they can make concrete decisions. 

They will be people with a multitude of different skills: not just good in one domain, but able to work in a variety of professions. They could work in the government or private business; they could even create a startup based on their models. And, they don’t have to just be in pure data—they can work alongside just about any industry type. Data is now a part of everything, so it would complement any type of organization.

Who should study this program? 

A data scientist is very different from a typical student because they need to have an engineering interest. They must want to learn about engineering, coding and how to apply theory to practice. They also need to learn how to communicate and work with business. So, they should be interested in business and be able to collaborate with people and communicate well. 

This program is for people who want to work in data analytics and be able to make data models, which will lead to better decision-making.

Candidates should also have a mathematical basis. That is, they enjoy math and want to apply that to technology. Not just a pure theoretical mathematician, but someone who wants to take that skill set and use it to build systems that will help people make decisions in the future. 

What opportunities can graduates look forward to in the future?

The world is changing: data is now becoming the most valuable asset that we have. Companies that have the most data are going to be the most valuable in the future. So, being able to work with it is an essential skill that every organization will need in the future. These graduates will have the best opportunities possible, especially as they’re probably the most in-demand at the moment and have very bright futures ahead.