McDonough Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Operations and Analytics Major
Georgetown McDonough students, alumni, and community members came together earlier this month to recognize the two decades of growth and innovation in the Undergraduate Program’s Operations and Analytics Major (formerly known as Operations and Information Management). The major was established in the early 2000s as one of the few offerings of its kind in business education and it has since grown to become one of the biggest majors at McDonough with over 100 students and 23 full-time faculty.
“We are pleased to recognize two decades of cutting-edge curriculum focused on preparing students for careers of the future,” said Paul Almeida, dean and William R. Berkely Chair, during his remarks at the event. “This major continues to grow in its importance each year as new technological transformations take place across the world. We are grateful to our area coordinators, faculty, students, and alumni who are committed to exploring the evolving and rapidly changing landscape of technology, big data, and its impact on modern business.”
The Operations and Information Management major was founded in 2001 by Keith Ord, professor emeritus of business statistics. Bardia Kamrad, senior associate dean, then took over as area coordinator for the program and helped grow the major from eight students in the first graduating class in 2004 to nearly 100 students in more recent years. The major was originally established to explore technological advances and their effects on the business – from robotics and cryptocurrency to artificial intelligence and more.
Robin Dillon-Merrill assumed the role of area coordinator in 2019. She recently led the rebranding effort to Operations and Analytics to align with changing trends in big data, technology, and information processing.
“Since its conception, the Operations and Analytics major has focused on giving our students the skills and abilities to apply data analytics and operations to succeed in the current dynamic and competitive market environment,” said Dillon-Merrill. “This is a milestone we are proud to achieve, and are thrilled to commemorate this special occasion with the Georgetown community.”
During the event, the audience heard from keynote Catherine Connelly (B’11), co-founder of The Meet Group, followed by an alumni panel discussion with Kristin Campbell Hart (B’04), vice president of business transformation at Marriott; Alejandro Lesmes (B’20), equity capital markets associate at Bank of America; Brendan Maggiore (B’11), senior manager at Deloitte; Amber Vargo Miller (B’06), director of risk at Transamerica; and Brian Sullivan (B’15), technology consulting manager at Ernst & Young.
“It’s an amazing honor to come back to speak to the Georgetown community as a keynote speaker for this event,” said Connelly. “The OPIM major had been around only a few years before I started, but it is such an important major.”
While attending Georgetown as a dual major in Operations and Information Management and Marketing, Connelly also was focused on building her social networking company, myYearbook, which later became The Meet Group.
“When I started at Georgetown, I had already created myYearbook, and it was important to me that I learned to speak the language of the developers for my company as we started building the team,” she said. “Courses in OPIM like databases were useful for that, and I had this very unusual experience being able to learn something in class and then immediately apply it to what I was doing with my company within the same day.”
Building a start-up while attending school full-time is a challenging task, but Connelly said it was made possible by the support she received from the McDonough community.
“The professors were incredibly supportive, the student body was incredibly supportive, and it was just a very welcoming environment to build a company. Entrepreneurship can be a little bit isolating so the ability to have such supportive peers and professors really made me feel at home,” she said.
Her company merged with a company in 2011 to become public, renamed myYearbook to MeetMe, and acquired several other social networking and meeting apps, including Tagged, Skout, and Growlr. After a successful $500 million acquisition in 2020 by the German company, ProSieben, The Meet Group joined with Parship and became the ParshipMeet Group, which also houses other brands including eharmony.
After leaving the company earlier this year, Connelly looks forward to using her experiences over the past decade to encourage other women interested in entrepreneurship and leadership positions in this space. “I’m hoping to become more of a mentor and advisor – I want women to know that this is something they should be doing, they can be doing, and to encourage more people to explore entrepreneurship.”
When asked for her advice for future Operations and Analytics majors, Connelly encouraged them to use data as part of their business strategy and to not be afraid to make decisions, and mistakes, along the way.
“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not making decisions – and you’re going to make mistakes along the way,” she said. “The important thing is that you’re learning from those mistakes, you keep building, and you’re relentlessly optimistic in trying to follow your goals.”