Brandeis GPS Blog

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

Tag: Alumni

Alumni Spotlight: Gaston Tchicourel

Program: Digital Innovation for FinTech

Graduation Year: 2020

Current Position: Information Technology Advisor at World Bank Group

Gastón came into the Digital Innovation for FinTech degree program with a strong background in both software development and technology consulting and management.

Q: What were your most valuable takeaways from the Digital Innovation for FinTech degree?
A: There were many reasons for why I enrolled in the Digital Innovation for FinTech degree program; however, I would say the main reason was to keep myself up-to-date with the current trends in the business. I have spent the majority of my professional career working on the technology side of the banking and financial services industries, so this program was an obvious choice toward that goal. And it definitely served that purpose. Not only did the degree serve as a refresher of both financial and technical concepts, but it also covered many other topics that span from regulatory frameworks to the future of finance.

Q: What was your favorite course from the Digital Innovation for FinTech degree?
A: There were many interesting courses throughout the program. It is difficult to choose just one so I will highlight a few favorites:

RDFT 130: Launching FinTech Ventures
In this course we covered and analyzed some of the best and most prominent business cases and success stories in the FinTech field. This is key knowledge for anyone looking to become an entrepreneur.

RDFT 160: Python Programming
As a software developer turned technology consultant and manager, taking this course felt like a break in my routine, like being a kid playing with Legos again! I can acknowledge that this is not the same for everyone.

Q: Do you have any advice for students currently working toward completing the FinTech degree?
A: Having completed the program, the best advice I can offer for current students is as follows:

Be curious: Don’t focus on just passing the courses. Read beyond the class requirements. Do your research online. Learn about success stories beyond the ones covered during the weekly sessions.

Build your network: Engage with your classmates and instructors. Attend industry events, both online and in-person. Stay connected on LinkedIn.

Stay sharp and stay involved: FinTech is moving much faster than other traditional industries. You have to be quick and flexible to surf this wave. Focus on data, learn about different DLTs and Blockchain technologies and crypto assets. This is the future of finance.

Q: What are your best hopes for your career in the future?
A: I’m hoping to get much more into crypto and, from a professional career perspective, complete my transition into the FinTech start-up space soon. I am hoping to jumpstart my own FinTech endeavor next…I’m working on a few ideas that I actually first thought about during the FinTech degree program. These ideas served as the core tenents of my capstone project.

Improving Technical Knowledge to Make Better Decisions Under Uncertainty.

In 2018, I co-founded AccuTennis, a computer vision company, with two electrical engineers. This endeavor is the most technically complex in my career. My experiences writing software and managing product development included a situation at a prior company where I made a very expensive mistake by directing the engineering team to develop an application, which made business sense. An enterprise customer demanded a solution and the engineering team’s primary objection was one of understanding the ROI. I made the case that this enterprise customer would renew its contract and we could upsell this service to our other enterprise customers. However, we ended up delivering a poorly performing solution because of some technical limitations that I should have uncovered during our debate over what to work on. Had I been better informed, I would have been able to ask the right questions to uncover some important technical debt, which inhibited the success of this project.

For my current venture, I needed to better understand the technical foundations of the products so I could make better decisions as CEO. Brandeis was one of the first places I looked for continuing education because I found the two other degrees that I earned there to be valuable (the university offers everything – I also met my wife at Brandeis!).

In general, a tech startup has three technical challenges: the underlying tech, its user experience, and measurement. The underlying tech is the most important and least appreciated because the core tech is often hidden behind the product’s user interface. In our case, we utilize raspberry pi-based hardware to track people and tennis balls in real time with a low margin of error. On top of this core technology are two user interfaces: (1) a TV screen that displays a player’s output in real time, and (2) a mobile app that allows users to authenticate themselves and select what games to play. Our system automatically generates reports that detail what each user (i.e. admin, coach, and player) does. When we implement any change, I filter the work through a user experience focus, which boils down to “does this allow AccuTennis to easily deliver real-time feedback that is useful better or worse?”. Any other consideration is a distance second. 

If we succeed in the above, we have a chance at growing our customer base, and if we do not, we will go out of business. We are a startup with limited funding an do not have many chances to recover from a major miscalculation on what we develop. This brings home the need to understand how the technical challenges relate to our business objectives. 

I found the curriculum within the Masters of Software Engineering, particularly the capstone class, useful in tying together (1) gathering business and technical requirements, (2) understanding stakeholders, and (3) building & delivering technology. Also, some engineers that I worked with in previous roles were snobs about only listening to people with Computer Science and Software Engineering degrees, so now they will.

Written by: Adam Sher

Software Engineering MS, class of 2021

Alumni Spotlight: Annie Harrison

Program: Digital Marketing and Design MS

Graduation Year: ’21

Current Company: The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University

 

How a background in journalism has been an asset to my master’s studies and career in strategic communications & marketing

When I made the decision to transition from a career in journalism to a career in media relations and marketing, I knew I needed to broaden my skill set. While I had plenty of writing experience, I did not have a background in design or data analytics. I had taken a few graduate classes previously at another institution, but I hadn’t yet found a program that I felt would prepare me for the fast-evolving environment and challenges of communicating in a digital era.

I was fortunate enough to enroll in GPS’s Digital Marketing and Design program while as a staff member at the Brandeis Library, and immediately I knew I was in good company. Although my faculty and students came from different industries, we all had similar interests and had experienced similar challenges in our work, such as needing to increase newsletter open rates, improve user experience navigating websites, and make our content more accessible. It was encouraging to see so many of my peers had similar career paths and could relate to the experience of going from writing news articles to pitching story ideas and building multichannel marketing campaigns.

My writing background was an asset when I started the program, and I was eager to learn how to take those fundamental skills and create marketing content that was both concise and meaningful for our audiences. I appreciated how I could take each week’s lesson and almost instantly apply it to my work designing newsletters, building webpages, and drafting social media content. Being able to share my real-world successes and struggles with my classmates and learn from their insights helped me become not only a better writer but also a more strategic communicator overall.

I had only taken traditional classes before, so I was initially concerned about whether the online format would be a good fit for me, but I found that I felt more connected to my faculty and classmates through engaging in regular assignments and message board discussions throughout the week as opposed to seeing them in-person once a week. As a plus, the online format gave me the flexibility to work on assignments on my own time, whether it was during my lunch break or on a Sunday evening. I was able to complete my program within three years while working full-time, and within months of graduating, I was pleased to accept a new role as the senior communications specialist at the Heller School in summer 2021.

I’m excited about the new opportunities ahead, and I’m grateful to GPS for helping give me the tools and connections to take my career to the next level.

For more information on the Digital Marketing and Design MS or other online master’s degrees available at GPS, please visit brandeis.edu/gps.

Take advantage of your benefits

 

Brandeis Alumni - Brandeis GPS Online Education - Brandeis GPS BlogIt was so good to see Brandeis University alumni at #DeisReunion17 last weekend! In case you missed us at the festivities on campus, we want to make sure you know about the Brandeis alumni tuition discount on all Graduate Professional Studies courses and programs.

Continue reading

On the light of reason and being bold

This is the time of year where we begin to wonder how everything is moving so fast. You may notice more sunlight, warmer temperatures and start to realize that winter is finally retreating. Spring is on the way and with it comes new opportunities, adventures, challenges and milestones. As we all hurdle through the beginning of 2016 and take on our goals for the year, we tend to forget what is waiting at the turn of each new season. For nearly 100 GPS students, the beginning of summer marks an incredibly important, personal milestone: completing their graduate programs.

We are nearly two months away from our 2016 commencement ceremony on May 22. It’s hard to believe that nearly a year has passed since the Brandeis GPS class of 2015 took to the stage to accept their diplomas. We were lucky to have commencement speaker and Brandeis alum Curtis H. Tearte, who took us on a journey through his life and left us with the resonating reminder to always expect the unexpected.

PicMonkey Sample

Curtis Tearte is a leader in business transformation and technology. He joined IBM in 1979 and rapidly progressed through four consecutive levels as director, vice president and general manager. He is responsible for multiple sectors across the key revenue-generating areas of the company. Mr. Tearte also served on the IBM Worldwide Management Committee, which is composed of the top 60 IBM executives. In his final position, he spearheaded the company’s single largest infrastructure IT transformation, designed as a model for U.S. state and allied foreign governments.

Mr. Tearte took the time to speak to all of us and lend his expertise. He expressed how proud he was of every GPS student who returned to school despite the many challenges that arise when juggling multiple commitments. It was truly an honor to hear him speak with such passion and vigor.

PicMonkey Sample2

As we reflect on our most recent commencement ceremony, we look forward to what is to come this May. We are already so proud of all our students and wish them nothing but the best. We hope you are as excited for Commencement 2016 as everyone here at GPS.

Read more about our 2015 commencement, or watch the video here.

Not subscribed to our blog?

Click here to subscribe!

Footerindesign

© 2022 Brandeis GPS Blog

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

Protected by Akismet
Blog with WordPress

Welcome Guest | Login (Brandeis Members Only)