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Mar 31, 2022 2022-03 Business Administration Student

Data scientist Bayraktar earns deeper understanding of business through iMSM

Accomplished data scientist Zikri Bayraktar said his desire to have a deeper understanding of business led him to the online master’s in management (iMSM) program at Gies College of Business.

“I realized working at IBM and where I work now that you need an understanding of both technology and business to solve real-world problems,” said Bayraktar, who works at Cambridge, MA-based Schlumberger Doll Research Center. “You want to be able to envision what’s next for the company and how are they going to monetize new ideas.”

Zikri BayraktarContinuing education has always appealed to this inventor and machine learning expert. Bayraktar earned a bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate in electrical engineering at Penn State University, before joining IBM in 2012. Since then, he has earned more than 40 certificates through Coursera. He’s a member of the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council and a sought-after speaker in the fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

So why another degree?  

“I chose the iMSM because my goal is to learn more about how business decisions are made,” he said. “I don’t plan on pursuing a full-scale business career just yet, so I chose this one-year program to add general business knowledge to my technology core skill set.”  

The iMSM is a 36-credit-hour program focusing on management skills so that learners can fluently speak the language of business. From reading a balance sheet to setting up a marketing plan, it is designed to give learners the skills to transition to a leadership position or start a business. Bayraktar said he’s already applying what he’s learned about business “soft skills” to his role leading the company’s volunteer-based AI Special Interest Group (SIG).

“Good leadership requires nuance. I work for a big, global energy company with 2,500 people in the SIG interested in better understanding AI. The iMSM program has taught me how to spot biases and  influence learning without having managerial authority – motivating people to present concepts, participate in activities, and contribute to the company’s discussion around AI,” he said.

Bayraktar said he will continue to enjoy the technical aspects of his job and sees his iMSM experience as a way to make a larger contribution to his company.

“It's rewarding to solve a problem and see how it matures and goes into the field. Because most promotions occur from within our company, I wanted the complementary business understanding that will make me stand out,” he said.