In this edition of the VWPN Newsletter, we are highlighting the work of Alicia Strandberg, PhD, Associate Professor NT in the Management & Operations department. Her specialties include applied analytics, applied statistical methods and robust methods. When she’s not in the classroom, Dr. Strandberg enjoys spending time with her family. She was introduced to her husband by one of her VU classmates and they now have three children ages 7, 6 and 2 years old. Before coming to Villanova University, Strandberg worked at Temple University and Towers Perrin.
What drew you to study statistics and pursue a PhD?
I always liked working with numbers and data, so math and statistics were a natural fit for me. After earning my undergraduate degree in Mathematics, I worked at a financial firm that had a tuition reimbursement program for employees pursuing graduate degrees. That program (and my father) encouraged me to enroll at Villanova University for its Master of Science in Applied Statistics. Shortly after graduation one of my VU professors told me Temple University was in need of an adjunct Instructor and asked me to consider teaching. Fast forward one year later, I enjoyed teaching college courses so much that I decided to make a career change. I left my job, and enrolled full time in a PhD program with the dream of being a college professor!
How did you become involved with analytics? What drew you to this area?
I first became involved with analytics when I was asked to serve on an academic committee to review and update undergraduate curriculum. Analytics uses data and methods to provide actionable outcomes and improve decision making. I enjoy studying the actionable results. Often a mix of strong quantitative skills and creativity is needed.
What drew you to Villanova?
Initially, I was drawn to Villanova as a master’s student because of the University’s reputation. Once I met the faculty, staff and other students, I knew this was the right place for me. The community and people at Villanova truly care about each other. Working at my alma mater feels like coming home and having the opportunity to give back to the University that has given me so much is truly an honor.
What is your favorite aspect about working at Villanova?
I love the people and the culture of helping others.I also like the programs and resources we are able to provide for our students. In addition we also have programs and events that bring strong leaders to campus or invite us to try something new, such as our Centers of Excellence, Women in Technology, and more than 300 student organizations.
How has the analytics program evolved since you began working with it here at Villanova?
When I joined Villanova, VSB had just developed its first Analytics Course. Now we offer a minor and co-major in Analytics to our undergraduate students. A Master of Science in Analytics is available and analytics courses are offered in several of our graduate degree programs.
How long have you been participating in the VU Women in Tech conference? What motivated you to participate in this annual conference?
I have been involved with VU Women in Tech since the committee was formed in the Fall of 2015. Our annual conference highlights women in the tech space and shows that there are opportunities for all careers, backgrounds and majors. In addition, it is always a fun event with opportunities for learning and networking.
From your perspective, what are the impacts of the VU Women in Tech conference on attendees?
Each year, the number of attendees at our annual VU Women in Tech conference grows and many attendees return annually. This show the value of our conference. Year after year, attendees are meeting new people, learning new things and considering emerging applications and skills in the tech area. This conference also provides the opportunity for alumni engagement, enhanced relationships with our recruiters, and hopefully, an increase in the female participation in the tech space.
Could you share one or two of your memorable experiences during your participation in the VU Women in Tech conferences?
At our very first conference in January 2016, we hoped to have 75 attendees; to our surprise 125 people came. That was a memorable moment!
What are the opportunities for women who are in the field of Analytics? And What advice would you offer to our audience as they pursue a career in Analytics?
There are countless opportunities for women (and men) in the field of analytics. Every industry is collecting data now. There is a shortage of people with the skill set needed to evaluate and find meaningful and actionable insights from data. That’s where the opportunities are. I would suggest that women think about areas and challenges that really interest them. Then pursue opportunities in that area. Remember, analytics goes beyond the field of business. There are opportunities in healthcare, sustainability, social media, tourism, education and any field where data is available.
What are the challenging aspects for women who work in this path?
Since analytics is a growing field, continuous growth and learning are important. New applications, methods, software and technology are constantly being developed. It can be overwhelming. Dedicating time to explore these new advances and making the commitment to learn something new is not always easy. Luckily there are helpful online recourses and social media groups that can help, but a time commitment is needed.
What are ways individuals can overcome such challenges?
Find a supportive network of friends and family, both at work and at home. Your network will support you when you need help (personally and professionally) and also be there to celebrate your achievements.