The Bachelor in Data and Business Analytics empowers curious and analytical students to harness the power of data to change the world. It adopts a hands-on approach to leveraging the most effective new technologies, preparing pioneers to solve tomorrow’s problems.
Yet to succeed in business, possessing relevant skills and techniques alone is not enough. IE University’s humanistic values ensure our students develop strong communication, dynamic teamwork, and effective collaboration skills to make a lasting impact.
Designed by professor Rafif Srour Daher who acts as the program academic director and the visionary of the bachelor, the Mind Challenge is a competitive, 15-session group initiative that forms an important part of the Bachelor in Data and Business Analytics. It focuses on teamwork and developing both business and soft skills which makes it a highly valuable learning experience for every participant.
Enhancing data expertise and soft skills
During the Challenge, teams of students work to resolve a real-world business problem for real clients: Grupo SM editorial last year and Iri worldwide; this year. Over the course of the program, participants develop a strong approach to data analysis, strengthen programming skills in Python, R, SPSS, and other languages, and deepen their statistical and computational thinking.
At the same time, the competitive format and strong focus on teamwork develops the humanistic skills required to succeed in the real business world, such as:
- Client communication
- Ensuring a solution is viable
- Risk analysis
- Mental resilience
- Effective communication
Composed of four separate phases, the teams start by analyzing a client’s needs and cleaning the data. Then, teams choose an appropriate methodology and evaluate and validate their proposals. The Challenge ends with a group presentation to the client where they present their findings and discuss their results.
We sat down with previous participants to discuss their experience on the Mind Challenge, its benefits, and their recommendations to future participants.
What was your experience of the Mind Challenge?
Qiji Xiang: “It was difficult and we invested a lot of time on it, but in the end it was worth it. It’s by far the most practical and realistic project we have done. It encouraged us to think outside the box and push ourselves. We gained valuable experiences on how things actually work in real life.”
Sidhant Singhal: “My experience during the Mind Challenge was informative, and it showed me the rigor that is expected in the professional world. The main benefits were realizing the messiness that is inherent to actual data and how theory and reality are often two different things entirely.”
Camila Barbagallo: “I believe the main benefit was that we got to deal with real data. We were able to analyze a case from the beginning to the end. This also gave us the opportunity to learn a lot of things—some we had already explored in class, but the majority we had to learn by ourselves which was a challenge and a tremendous benefit.”
Karl Asger: “The Challenge gave a practical, real-life example of everything we have learned so far. As we were working in the context of an analytics consulting project, it included each aspect of a real-life analytics collaboration. Ranging from initial propositions to results summaries, we had to not only code but also make all of our insights simple and understandable for the stakeholders we presented to. I found this to be really helpful, as it gave us a practical experience of what a project with a company is like and what this process involves.”
What did you learn during the Challenge?
Rocio González Lantero: “The best part was the exposure to the real world. This made us see how we’ll be able to apply our knowledge in the future and also how things change depending on the industry you’re in.”
Sidhant: “I liked the fact that we had a lot of freedom in our approach. This allowed me to explore unfamiliar algorithms and use new technologies to reach the desired solution.”
Qiji: “This experience helped us learn about the whole process of pre-processing and machine learning in more depth. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we also learned how to work as a team online. We were all located around the world, so the time difference was a factor we had to consider at all times, which we had never even thought about before.”
Karl: “I enjoyed the real-life application of the project. It was a glimpse into how the professional world applies the techniques and draws on the knowledge that we have obtained in the past two years.”
What advice would you give to future participants of the Mind Challenge?
Sergi Abashidze and Tharun Komari: “The project required a lot of hard work, however our team worked efficiently by communicating with each other in a very friendly environment. The best advice is to try your best and not give up. It looks difficult—and it is—but you can learn a lot just by trying new things, asking the professor for advice, and seeing the approach your teammates and other teams are taking.”
Sidhant: “I would advise them to be organized. Sometimes there’s dozens of ideas and approaches you think could work, and unless you log everything, you lose a lot of valuable insight.”
Camila: “I would recommend asking a lot of questions! I think that one of the things that helped us the most was the chance to ask Ramon many questions through the process.”
The professor teaching this course believes that exploring new challenges is vital for students’ development. He has certainly provided them with an opportunity to expand their skills in the Mind Challenge, while at the same time giving them a taste of the real professional world that lies beyond