Matt Cross

Associate Director – Data and Content Management, S&P Global

What made you decide to get a business analytics certificate?

I was working as an accounting analyst, but I wanted to get out of accounting and into a more tech-centric role. The Harvard Business Analytics Program (HBAP) seemed like a great opportunity to improve my technical and analytical skills, and also leverage my accounting and finance experience.

Did you consider other programs? Why did you choose HBAP?

I also looked at the Program for Leadership Development at Harvard. I chose HBAP because the curriculum included tech, analytics, and leadership, which I felt would help me become a more well-rounded leader.

Where are you working now?

I work at S&P Global Ratings in the data office, which focuses on data and content management. HBAP definitely helped me get this role; in fact, I was hired by an HBAP alumnus. I was able to qualify for the role because of the experience I gained through the program. My responsibilities include finding new data vendors, implementing big data integrations, conducting data analysis and data quality checks, and developing strategic road maps for future business developments.

HBAP also helped me get my previous position. During the program, I learned about SQL, Python, and Tableau. Those skills positioned me for a promotion to senior systems analyst, which was a more data- and tech-focused role.

What sort of relationships have you built with your classmates?

A handful of my classmates were my age (late 20s) but most of them were older than me by 10 years. My classmates came from many different industries and almost all of them had been in leadership roles for a significant amount of time. I was able to build relationships through class discussions, group projects, study groups, and, ultimately, the immersions.

There have also been a few networking opportunities. It is easier and faster to build relationships in person, but there have been virtual speed-networking sessions, too. I like attending the events on campus the most.

Which courses have you been able to apply to your career?

The most impactful courses were SQL, Python, and Tableau. While having a strategic data mindset is super important, knowing how to use cutting-edge data tools and teach others made me stand out at my level. Now I use SQL every day and Python when I’m allowed (there are more security restrictions because it’s so powerful). Tableau is impressive as well. Regardless of the tool, understanding how to create powerful data visualizations and tell a story is an extremely important skill.

What was your experience with faculty?

My experience with the faculty impacted me in many ways. Just seeing how passionate they were about their subjects and how they taught in ways that were entertaining, stimulating, thorough, and extremely challenging was very impressive. During the immersion, people would clap after faculty lectures. It was something I’ve never seen before. They are also very talented at using theater to make topics interesting and fun.

My favorite Professor was Karim Lakhani. He was so intelligent but also funny and charismatic. His class was a pure adrenaline rush. My second favorite was professor Jim Waldo. I’ve never seen a better PowerPoint presentation in my life. I had no idea cybersecurity could be so entertaining and interesting. His comedic timing was incredible and his class was so memorable; I still remember many examples vividly.

Personally, Karim and Marco advised me to take my current job—a move that has done wonders for my career and helped me to gain valuable experience working with data.

What would you tell prospective students who are considering applying?

Definitely go for it. It won’t just help your career; it will give you another level of swagger in life. Every company is going to need competitive business analytics to thrive in the future—whether they know it or not. This program will help anyone become a better leader in the modern world. It is also an amazing challenge that will make you a better human being and expand your network to an incredible group of world-class people.