The Brandeis GPS blog

Insights on online learning, tips for finding balance, and news and updates from Brandeis GPS

Category: Brandeis GPS Events (page 1 of 2)

Don’t let writer’s block undermine your grad school application

Rebecca WeissFaces of GPS | Rebecca Weiss

When submitting your application for graduate school, the most daunting item for people I work with is the statement of goals. While our requirement is a minimum of 500 words, it is easy to get stuck on how to best articulate your goals for applying to graduate school and why you are interested in one of our programs in particular. Here are few tips that can get the words flowing:

Where to start: If you are struggling with the essay format, it may be easier to jot down bullet points to answer the questions in an outline. Once you have the basics down, you can go back and reformat.

Don’t tell us, show us: This is your place to show the committee why you are a great candidate! Give specific examples to highlight your experience and accomplishments. Don’t be afraid to share personal anecdotes about your personal journey to this master’s program.

Answer the questions: Once you write your first draft, make sure to refer back to the questions asked in the prompt. Were they answered fully?

Review and revise: Grammar, punctuation, flow and spelling are important! Have a friend or colleague read over your essay before you submit.

As always, I’m happy to answer any questions you have throughout this process! I can be reached out 781-736-3447 and rweiss@brandeis.edu

<<Start your GPS application>>

Rebecca Weiss is the Assistant Director of Admissions and Recruitment at GPS, and with her four years of experience in the office, she has a lot of great advice to offer prospective GPS students.

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

Upcoming UX webinar: a story-first approach to human-centered design

Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016
2-3 p.m. EDT
Hosted by Lou Susi, Program Chair of the MS in User-Centered Design

louis-susiWhen we design for experience, subtle and peculiar shifts come into play that demand a uniquely compassionate way of thinking about and guiding our practice. This webinar will explore:

  • The benefits of putting story concepts at the center of a human-centered design approach to improve the design process
  • The quality of a total human experience we’re ultimately all creating through our work.
  •  High-level perspectives, philosophies and mindsets pertaining to both design thinking and decision-making

Learn more and register!

Recap: Maintaining and Defining Your Voice on Social Media

On Sept. 15, GPS hosted a webinar called “Defining and Maintaining an Authentic Voice on Digital Media.” The session was hosted by Lauren Hindman,  GPS faculty and a marketing and communications professional with more than 12 years experience.

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Hindman discussed brand authenticity, audience considerations and other ways marketers can find and showcase their brand’s voice. She also talked about tone and style differences that can impact a brand’s social media presence, as well as the importance of being consistent. In her final key takeaway, Hindman addressed the importance of regularly evaluating the relevancy of a brand’s voice and allowing it to evolve with the times.

 

This webinar was part of the GPS thought leadership webinar series and held in conjunction with our MS in Digital Marketing and Design.  The program gives students a thorough education on the tools and approaches necessary for designing marketing campaigns across a variety of digital platforms, optimizing campaigns for digital audiences, and capturing and using advertising analytics to inform marketing decisions.

Innovation Experts Discuss the State of Fintech

On Aug. 18, 2016, Brandeis GPS hosted a webinar led by Ashley Nagle Eknaian, chair of the new Master of Science in Digital Innovation for FinTech, with Jason Zaler, FinTech Partnerships Lead at PwC. This interesting and interactive discussion helped us celebrate the launch of the program, which is welcoming its first students this fall.

Just voted #36 in Onalytica’s list of top 100 FinTech innovators and brands, Zaler offered valuable insight into the evolving world of FinTech and the many industries impacted by this important technology. Zaler began the discussion by pointing out the many ways that most people use FinTech in everyday life through apps such as Venmo, Square, mobile banking apps, and robo-advice services. Because FinTech’s reach is constantly increasing, Zaler stressed the need to continuously reassess the industry.

“Learning so much about what was happening and seeing how fast it changed drove us to reevaluate the way we deliver insight and consulting,” Zaler said. “It propels us to develop a platform to provide that information to clients in real time.”

Zaler and Eknaian also discussed Fintech’s role in financial service institutions, technology companies, pay networks, and of course, FinTech startups. These groups are all trying to figure out how to best interact with one another to understand and maximize the new technologies available — to create the perfect marriage between financial institutions and technological innovation. The dialogue and new questions springing from these groups constantly draw many into this emerging field.

Competition with FinTech startups
Today in FinTech, some of the most important services exist on the backend of operations that consumers don’t often see. For example, FinTech services are used to clean up bank ledgers.

FinTech startups are essentially disrupters in the industry, knocking out other companies who would otherwise control this back-end technology. In order to help customers, big financial institutions are directly acquiring apps and cutting out big companies, making the process more efficient. As there is a lot of competition in this evolving industry, better products are constantly coming out for people to use on a day-to-day basis.

“It’s really an ecosystem where there’s a lot of movement, a lot of competition,” said Zaler. “The thing to be aware of is that as these companies jockey for a position, there is one benefit to the consumers: better products with better interfaces that you can use in your daily lives.”

Keeping customers through FinTech
Today, banks are working toward keeping their customers from the time they open their first account in college to an eventual retirement. To carry customers through their banking journey, banks now offer FinTech services for each stage of a customer’s experience. Zaler noted that customers today use an average of three to five FinTech products, so banks want to make sure their FinTech app stays on their customers’ phones.

FinTech around the world
FinTech is now a global industry, with major hubs in Silicon Valley, New York, London, Singapore, Israel, Dublin and Scandinavia. Regulations imposed on FinTech companies are what shape each country’s approach to FinTech throughout the globe. While Europe has more regulations that prevent FinTech companies from partnering with banks, the regulatory policies in China focus on making it easier for FinTech products to come to market, which causes major fraud issues and mistrust of these products in potential customers. With 30 percent of FinTech companies now under investigation in China, companies need to convince people they’re trustworthy before they can even begin to directly market their products.

Zaler also went on to discuss the benefits of large financial institutions relying on startups for services. He noted that there are three ways to think about how financial institutions can get FinTech services:

  • Buying them from another provider
  • Partnering with another company
  • Building their own

While many companies do opt to build their own or partner with other companies, often startups are cheap and have already developed the technology the large financial institution is looking for, making it more cost effective to just buy the technology.

This webinar, held in conjunction with the announcement of the new MS in Digital Innovation for FinTech at Brandeis GPS concluded with Zaler giving suggestions of how to stay up to date with FinTech news through following key influencers on Twitter and using the Denovo site, built by his company, PwC.

Thought Leadership Webinar Recording: Learning from FinTech Startups

July’s thought leadership webinar was led by Timothy Bosco, Senior Vice President of Investor Services at Brown Brothers Harriman.

Read more FinTech insights from Bosco here.

Register for our next thought leadership webinar, The State of FinTech, here.

Access other GPS thought leadership webinars here.

What Established Companies Can Really Learn From Startups

The following blog post was written by Timothy Bosco, Senior Vice President of Investor Services at Brown Brothers Harriman. Tim will be hosting a webinar on this topic on Thursday, July 28 at 2 p.m. EDT (rsvp here). 

Today, some of the most successful financial service providers are seeking lessons about risk taking from an unlikely source – early stage startup companies.

Whether it’s through the venture investment community or directly with leading fintechs, more and more established companies are looking to model startup behaviors despite the fact that these emerging companies actually fail more than 90% of the time.1

Learn more about the newest GPS master's degree: MS in Digital Innovation for FinTech

Learn more about the newest GPS master’s degree

It is easy to assume this growing trend must be because the fast-paced, innovative startup culture inspires established companies to take bigger chances in search of bigger rewards. The real reason for this new fascination, however, is often just the opposite. It might actually be the way startups deal with uncertainty and efficiently mitigate their risk of failure that is driving the real interest.


Clearly, the “eat-or-be-eaten” environment in which most startups operate has a way of forcing efficiency and creativity. When something is not working to plan, only those with the willingness and the ingenuity to shift fast enough have a chance of making it.

It’s that dexterity large organizations envy most. In fact, there probably isn’t a corporate innovation team out there that hasn’t, at some point, incorporated the “fail fast” mantra into their lexicon.

Large companies also recognize that many of the same factors that threaten a startup’s success can impact their own product strategies to the same degree – technology can evolve overnight, customer preferences are fickle, funding is always limited, and new competition can spring up from anywhere at any time.

The difference for startups, though, is that they have the most to lose by ignoring signals to fail fast. In most cases, it is their survival instincts that draw out the entrepreneurial resiliency needed to bootstrap success even if that means setting aside their original ambitions.

Pinterest is one of many great examples of a startup that was forced to abandon its initial plan only to architect an even bigger opportunity. In 2009, the founders of Pinterest initially attempted to launch the very first mobile-enabled shopping application called Tote. Despite strong customer demand, retailer support, and adequate seed funding, the idea never took off because of the relative immaturity of mobile payment technologies. Instead of doubling down and waiting for payment technologies catch up, Tote switched gears and relaunched a much simpler application that kick started a new visual social network phenomenon. It turns out that Pinterest is among the most likely IPO candidates in 2016 with an anticipated $11 billion valuation.2

While large companies can’t necessarily manufacture the competitive environments that shape actual startup behaviors, there is still a lot they can learn from successful entrepreneurs about staying lean, focused, and in control of new product innovation. The following table outlines a few key success factors commonly found among startups that reinvented themselves early in their lifecycles.

Adopting Successful Startup Strategies

What Established Companies Figure 1

Within the corporate context, these startup strategies also suggest an ideal investment profile for mitigating risk. The minimum and maximum ranges depicted below illustrate the relative levels of investment in terms of both time and money throughout the product development cycle.

Creating the Right New Product Investment Profile

What Established Companies Figure 2
It clearly takes both practical decision making and an unconditional commitment to make it big as a startup. The people who run them are responsible for every detail, every success, and every failure. It is that entrepreneurial perspective that guides startups to fail fast. For that reason, established companies must understand the importance of empowering their product teams to own their decisions about how to incorporate failure before it gets expensive or even worse… before it becomes destructive.

1 Forbes, 90% of Startups Fail: Here’s What You Need to Know About the 10%, January 2015.

2 Nasdaq, Is Pinterest a Top IPO Candidate for 2016?, December 2015.

This blog post was originally published on Brown Brothers Harriman’s Insights blog on May 6, 2016. RSVP to Tim’s webinar, What Can Established Companies Really Learn from FinTech Startups, here.

Congrats to the Brandeis GPS class of 2016!

The Rabb School of Continuing Studies awarded diplomas to nearly 100 GPS students at its 2016 commencement ceremony today. Approximately half of the graduating class attended the event, which took place on campus from 8 to 9 a.m. at the Faculty Club.

Picture 3_Graduates

View more commencement 2016 photos

“Today is the day to reflect with pride on your accomplishments,” said Rabb School Vice President Karen Muncaster. “Not only have you mastered a rigorous curriculum, but most of you have done this while working full-time and while balancing family responsibilities.”

Given the online nature of GPS programs, many graduates arrived from out-of-state and visited the Brandeis campus for the first time. Some students traveled from as far as Israel, Canada and throughout the U.S., including Texas, Georgia, Missouri, Utah and Illinois.

“Anyone can make electricity as they go through the motions,” said student speaker and MS in Strategic Analytics degree recipient Jay Caplan, “They get things done and they check things off a list, but that’s all they’re doing. It is the exceptional individual who possesses the passion and dedication to create light from electricity.” Caplan is part of the inaugural group of graduates from the Strategic Analytics program, which launched in 2014.

Rabb School of Continuing Studies Vice President Karen Muncaster with Chris Anderson, president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council

Rabb School of Continuing Studies Vice President Karen Muncaster with Chris Anderson, president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council

The ceremony also featured remarks from Christopher Anderson, president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council. Brandeis GPS partners with MHTC on its MATTERS program, which is an online tool designed to help measure and evaluate Massachusetts’ current competitive position among leading technology states.

“It doesn’t matter what profession you find yourself in today, or next year, or in 5 years—it’s more important to know what kind of a person you are for yourself, and for others,” said Anderson. “If you do what you say you’re going to do in all matters, you’ll bring greater value to your work, your family, and most importantly, to your sense of self-satisfaction.”

The following diplomas were awarded:

Master of Software Engineering (17 graduates)
MS in Bioinformatics (6 graduates)
MS in Health and Medical Informatics (12 graduates)
MS in Information Security Leadership (12 graduates)
MS in Technology Management (13 graduates)
MS in Project and Program Management (22 graduates)
MS in Strategic Analytics (11 graduates)
MS in Virtual Management (1 graduate)
Graduate Certificate in Project and Program Management (1)

Photo 1_post-diploma selfie

Congratulations to our graduates!

Countdown to Commencement: Congratulations to the class of 2016!

The Rabb School of Continuing Studies will award diplomas to nearly 100 GPS students at its 2016 commencement ceremony this Sunday, May 22. Approximately half of the graduating class is expected to attend the event, which will take place on campus from 8 to 9:30 a.m. EDT at the Faculty Club.

Given the online nature of GPS programs, many graduates are arriving from out-of-state and will be visiting the Brandeis campus for the first time. Some students are traveling as far as Israel, Canada and throughout the U.S., including Texas, Georgia, Missouri, Utah and Illinois. The university will stream the ceremony for those who cannot attend here.

The ceremony will feature remarks from Christopher Anderson, president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council, and Jay Caplan, a May graduate from the Master of Science in Strategic Analytics program. Caplan and his Strategic Analytics cohort are the first group of graduates from that program, which launched in the fall of 2014.commencement-photos2

Diplomas will be handed out from the following areas:

  • Master of Software Engineering (17 graduates)
  • MS in Bioinformatics (6 graduates)
  • MS in Health and Medical Informatics (12 graduates)
  • MS in Information Security Leadership (12 graduates)
  • MS in Technology Management (13 graduates)
  • MS in Project and Program Management (22 graduates)
  • MS in Strategic Analytics (11 graduates)
  • MS in Virtual Management (1 graduate)
  • Graduate Certificate in Project and Program Management (1)

Congratulations to our graduates!

Ask the Expert series recap with Barbara McNamara

On April 19, we hosted Barbara McNamara, former Deputy Director of the National Security Agency, for our Ask the Expert series. Ms. McNamara captivated us not only with her deep knowledge of the information security industry, but also by her life story and the doors she has opened for other women in technology.

barbara-mcnamara-ask-the-expert

A graduate from Regis College, the Armed Forces Staff College, and the National War College, Barbara McNamara was the first woman named Deputy Director of Operations of the National Security Agency in 1994. In 1997, she became the agency’s Deputy Director and was just the second woman to hold that position. Three years later, she received the U.S. Intelligence Community’s highest award, the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal. At the time, she was one of the highest-ranked women in the U.S. intelligence community.

“People have been protecting their communications since the War of Independence”

Following an introduction by Michael Corn, the chair of the MS in Information Security Leadership program at GPS, Ms. McNamara discussed the history of information security in the United States. She talked about the critical role information security played during the World Wars, particularly focusing on advances in cryptography and code-breaking that occurred during World War II. She then covered the NSA’s role in protecting national security during the decades that followed — this period was characterized by a struggle to get information security equipment to field-based members of the military. While Ms. McNamara constantly stressed the importance of defending and protecting information as technology continuously evolves, another running theme from her conversation and concluding Q&A session is that those with a background in information security industry are “very wanted” and valued by many industries within the workforce.

“People in information assurance are about to enter the most exciting and challenging times of their lives.”

Our Ask the Expert event ended with a Q&A that addressed questions ranging from the measures current high-level security agents take while traveling abroad to U.S. preparedness for a cyberwar to Ms. McNamara’s career advancement in a male-dominated field. Ms. McNamara quipped that despite no plans to write a book, the title of her memoir would be “In a Man’s World.”

It was a pleasure to host Ms. McNamara at GPS and we look forward to our next Ask the Expert event.

Watch our Ask the Expert recording here

Countdown to Commencement: Strategic Analytics #tbt

GradBanner519

GPS students from across the country are convening their family members, booking travel, and preparing to descend on Waltham on May 22 for our 2016 commencement ceremony.

We are especially excited to welcome our first class of Strategic Analytics graduates. Launched in 2013 and with 100 students currently enrolled, the Master of Science in Strategic Analytics is one of our most popular and fastest-growing programs.

Strategic Analytics harnesses the proliferation of data in all aspects of business, providing students with the skills and tools to reduce risk and improve performance. It’s important to note that this program doesn’t just meet the needs of a specific field — you will find that it can be applied to most. Our Strategic Analytics students work in IT, marketing, finance, biotechnology, healthcare, research and development, and many other industries.

Filling a critical workforce gap

This year’s crop of Strategic Analytics graduates will find themselves in high demand as more and more corporations, governments, and institutions across the globe begin to recognize the need to collect and analyze large data sets. With the world facing a shortage of analysts capable of designing and executing complex data analysis, experts like GPS’ graduates in data collection, management and analysis are becoming increasingly integral to organizational success.

A study conducted by NewVantage shows that the majority of employers have either been challenged or somewhat challenged in finding Strategic Analytics workers. (Source: NewVantage Partners: “Big Data Executive Survey Themes & Trends”)

A study conducted by NewVantage shows that the majority of employers have either been challenged or somewhat challenged in finding Strategic Analytics workers. (Source: NewVantage Partners: “Big Data Executive Survey Themes & Trends”)

Strategic Analytics at Brandeis

The Strategic Analytics program is led by Steve Gentile, who has more than 25 years of IT project management experience in the financial services industry. To complete the comprehensive 30-credit program, students must take seven core courses and three electives. Diverse in nature and subject matter, the courses focus on collecting, storing, securing, mining and analyzing data, and using that data to inform organizational decision-making.

We are proud of our 2016 Strategic Analytics students who understand the strategic potential of big data and are equipped to translate analysis into effective action. We know they are all are poised to lead today’s organizations to new standards of efficiency and competitiveness. Congratulations to all our graduates!

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