Q&A with Jed Raynes (MSBA’22): MSBA students Partner with Gray Associates on Capstone Project
Georgetown McDonough’s Master of Science in Business Analytics program (MSBA) and Gray Associates, Inc. have collaborated to better envision the future of higher education enrollment numbers, coursework options, new programs, and beyond – through real-time data analysis and experiences.
The ongoing capstone project utilizes real-life classroom knowledge of MSBA students – and their diverse professional expertise – to create relevant results for the client while students simultaneously gain an advanced understanding of higher education consulting.
We spoke with capstone project lead, Jed Raynes (MSBA’22), about his experience working with Gray Associates, Inc. and how his team plans to use datasets to maximize academic portfolios for higher education clients.
Describe the capstone project that you’ve been working on with Gray Associates. What does it entail?
Our team is working with Gray Associates to predict undergraduate and graduate education program size, economics, and return on investment. This entails using proprietary datasets on undergraduate and graduate programs, demographic information, and job demand data to understand what program a school should open and what the economics of that program will look like. To do so, my team is leveraging machine learning concepts that we learned in the MSBA program to arrive at a data-driven and data-backed solution for our client.
What have been your biggest takeaways from working on this project?
While the project is ongoing, the biggest takeaways are the project management and consulting environment. The capstone project is structured as a live engagement. So, rather than focus solely on implementing a solution and writing a report like a typical course project, we’re having recurring conversations with our capstone partner, defining an engagement scope of work, and working alongside Gray Associates. I currently work in consulting in a different industry so having the opportunity to help lead the project team and discussions with our client in a new industry has been invaluable to my learning experience.
Do you believe your project has made an impact on your clients at Gray Associates?
Though the project is ongoing, I am confident my team will provide valuable and impactful data-driven insights to Gray Associates. Since we’re consulting in an industry that we’re a part of as graduate students in the second cohort of a newer program, we’re able to leverage our professional backgrounds in addition to our own experiences researching masters programs, before landing at Georgetown McDonough.
Is there a particular person – either on your team or in the Georgetown community – that has been instrumental to your success during this project?
While everyone has been valuable to the capstone project, I’d like to specifically thank my capstone team, Andrea Aleman, Seth Dennis, Mariam Fazal, and Yaw Opoku, and our partner at Gray Associates, Youssef Aljabi. Working on the capstone project in tandem with our typical coursework has been challenging. The flexibility and expertise of my capstone team has been instrumental to our progress and success thus far. On the client side, Youssef has been helpful ever since the kickoff meeting during our residency. He has answered all of our many questions and provided valuable domain knowledge that has been useful for the project and our careers thereafter.
What has your overall experience been like in the MSBA program?
My experience so far has been positive! On the professor and program management side, I’ve generally felt supported and challenged throughout the program. I’ve learned a diverse skill set in various topics from statistics to machine learning to marketing analytics – many topics I would not have had the chance to learn about without the MSBA program.
My peers have been great and a valuable part of my positive experience. Through group projects in rotating study groups, study sessions outside of class time, and in-class discussions, the unique profile and background of each student contributes to the learning experience. A major plus is getting the chance to meet everyone in person a few times during our kickoff and mid-program residencies.
How do you plan to apply the skills you have learned at Georgetown in the next phase of your career?
After graduation, I think there are two ways I plan on applying the skills learned at Georgetown. The first is by implementing classroom knowledge in the workplace and leveraging the various tools and methods learned throughout the program. The second is by utilizing the MSBA network and the network of the broader Georgetown community. I’ve been fortunate to learn alongside very smart classmates and I look forward to maintaining those connections after the program.