Becoming a business analyst opens up doors

September 01, 2019

Cheryl Belair standing in front of a tree bush

The motivation of Cheryl Belair, MS '17, wasn’t necessarily to become a business analyst, it was to create a better life for her family. Early in her marriage, her husband was in a tragic car accident and Belair went from being a stay-at-home mom with two young children to head of household in an instant. She fell on hardships, and with her family by her side, she remained strong and continued her journey.

Education was her vehicle. A degree would give her the opportunity to earn more money and make a career for herself. Her associate’s degree led to a full time job in information technology where she was first introduced to business analytics.

She loved solving problems and excelled in her field. When she remarried in 2003, her kids were in high school, and she decided it was time to get her bachelor’s degree in computer information systems.

Fast forward to fall 2014.

Belair and her daughter, now an adult and about to be married, decided that going to graduate school together would be a great idea. 

They both applied and both got accepted into the online MS in Business Analytics program at Quinnipiac. They began the program together and supported each other.

Belair took a few breaks during the Business Analytics program to care for her parents. The program’s flexibility allowed her to do that. At the time Belair decided to get her master’s degree, she wasn’t necessarily planning on becoming a business analyst.

She worked in student support for the online programs at Quinnipiac and she wanted to excel at her job. She felt that she could provide better support if she understood what they were experiencing.

Belair’s classroom experience was readily applied to her job. The director of analytics asked her to work on updating the data warehouse by utilizing Informer and SQL Server.

She was instrumental in creating, modifying and scheduling reports, tables and views, which improved data maintenance as well as the reporting process. The MS in Business Analytics gave her the skills to assist with data creation, data maintenance, creating retention dashboards and analytical reporting for program directors and department chairs.

Cheryl wasn’t necessarily looking for a career change; she was eager to use her new skills and help her department any way she was able to.

As Belair was finishing up her master’s degree, a business analyst position opened up at the university. 

With the support and encouragement of her coworkers, Belair applied and she was hired. She loves her new job, and the people she works with. She is still learning and knows there is more to come for her.

Belair’s steadfast ability to take one step at a time while keeping the bigger picture in mind has led her to build an amazing family and career. Even though she didn’t set out to become a business analyst, her journey always seemed to nudge her in that direction.

Q & A

What was your experience entering the classroom after being out for so long?

Getting back in the mindset is a little intimidating. The first two classes were probably the hardest of all – not because of the material, but trying to get into the flow of it. It’s a learning curve that we go through whenever we start something new. After the first semester, I figured out how to manage both school and the rest of my life. It was also exciting to know that I was working toward becoming a business analyst.

What drew you to online learning?

The flexibility was my draw to the MS in Business Analytics program. I liked that you did it on your schedule. Each week would vary a little bit because of my family’s schedule, but I knew I could sit down at the computer whenever I needed to. I really loved the online learning environment and wouldn’t have done it any other way.

What was the classroom environment like?

The professors make it a point to get to know their students and create strong ties. You get close to people in your online classes and support each other. Students in the classes are seeking to become business analysts or a variation of that job function, so we have a lot in common.

You have a full time job and family commitments. How did you manage your time?

It was probably 10 years from when I got my bachelor’s degree and I was a little nervous. I was in charge of my schedule and stuck to the times that best worked for me.

What courses did you enjoy?

Data Visualization was my favorite course. We used Tableau software, which was as fun as it was educational. I really enjoyed the programming courses using SQL Server and R.

What was one of your proudest moments in the MS in Business Analytics program?

The capstone project is intricate, time consuming and rewarding. It gave me the opportunity to learn about a very personal topic, help my family heal and bring my family closer by understanding we are not alone. Opioid drug overdose is an epidemic and my brother-in-law is now a statistic. I learned so much and finally understood him and felt deep compassion for his family.

I wouldn’t have made such a powerful connection without this project. The rigorous assignment threw me into this world where I was learning about predictive modeling, data and text mining, fit statistics and visual analysis presentations in a topic which touched such a personal chord with me. I am grateful.

Is there anything else you would like add?

Surround yourself with positive, supportive people and create opportunities for yourself so that you are always changing, learning and growing to be the best version of you.

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a business analyst like Belair, click here for program information: MS in Business Analytics.

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