Before Olivia Siegal MSBA ’22 enrolled at William & Mary’s Raymond A. Mason School of Business, she served as a Fisheries Management Specialist for the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, the regulatory agency that manages the Commonwealth’s saltwater resources. In this role, Siegal was responsible for analyzing data collected by the agency and translating it into valuable insights, specifically for those with non-scientific backgrounds.
“I enjoyed explaining the science to non-science audiences, but I wanted a little bit more out of my career,” she explained. “The position was exactly what I wanted it to be but after two years, I had gotten everything out of the position I could. It was a natural pivot point from natural resources and fisheries being the subject matter of my analyses to business-focused topics.”
A Passion for Environmental Science
Siegal moved to the United States from Ontario, Canada when she was in elementary school. Her family lived in Virginia for two years before settling in Raleigh, North Carolina.
As a child, it was her dream to become a veterinarian so when she applied to college, she chose North Carolina State University with the intention of leveraging the relationship between the undergraduate programs and one of the top veterinary programs in the country.
“I was shadowing a lot of veterinarians to prepare for that program and I realized I could love animals without making it my career. It was a bit of a crisis deciding I wanted to change career fields,” she said.
Ultimately, Siegal stayed in the sciences and pursued a degree in biology. Knowing she would need a master’s degree, she applied to William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) where she focused on fisheries.
“I studied juvenile striped bass and spent a lot of my summers on the water, towing nets and playing with fish,” she said.
Pivoting Towards Business
When it came time for Siegal to research business programs, William & Mary was an obvious choice for several reasons. First, it was her alma mater having earned her first master’s degree from VIMS. Second, it was a commutable distance from her home in Virginia Beach where her husband was stationed with the U.S. Navy. And finally, the husband of one of her best friends had also attended the Mason School.
“I watched his progression through the Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) program the year prior and saw the skills and knowledge he acquired through that process. It aligned well with the pivot I wanted to make,” she explained. “I knew I wanted to do an in-person, on campus program, and having known someone who had done it and enjoyed it made the decision to apply easy.”
Since enrolling in the program, Siegal says she has enjoyed having the ability to work collaboratively with members of her cohort.
“I find that the way the teams are structured and that you stick with the same team for the entire semester is helpful. I learned a lot by watching our team dynamic develop over time, and we were able to support one another by bringing different skill sets to the group,” she said.
Another benefit of the Mason School’s MSBA program was the professional development and career resources available through the Graduate Career Management Center (GCMC).
“I knew about the technical aspects of what we would learn in the program and my expectations were completely met,” Siegal said. “But I was nervous about recruiting coming from a STEM-biology background. The process of entering the business world is very different than what I had been previously exposed to so things like Tech Day were a real highlight for me because it was one of my first views of what looking for a job in business was going to look like.”
Following graduation from the MSBA program, Siegal will transition into her role as an Information Technology Consultant at Marathon Consulting, a Virginia Beach firm that specializes in IT and digital marketing.
“My goal is to really dive in and do analytics in business,” she explained. “I realize now that I’m a lifetime student not just because I earned a second master’s degree but because I have a tendency to seek out projects where I know I can learn something new. The field of business analytics is that by definition.”
The knowledge and skills she acquired in the MSBA program will certainly contribute to that journey moving forward, and Siegal hopes that future students will take advantage of all the program and the school have to offer.
“The program will allow you to gain real world experience and you will get a lot of exposure to different methods and techniques which will serve as the baseline you need to continue to grow moving forward. If you are somebody who is always willing to ask questions of yourself, or of the data that is handed to you, this is the program for you because you will have so many opportunities to practice those technical skills,” she said.