Alumni Perspectives


Alexander Olson

Alexander Olson

MFE 17

Product Data Scientist Waymo
Mountain View, CA

Delivering the Skills Data Science Demands

As a data scientist at Google, I’m using all of the same models, frameworks, and analytic tools as a financial engineer, but instead of looking at equities or fixed income assets, I’m helping our marketers better understand user patterns and behavior. I could never have gotten this job without my Berkeley Haas MFE. It taught me the high-level technical knowledge and strategic thinking that I use every day.

On being part of Haas and UC Berkeley

Because the Berkeley MFE program is part of a business school, there is a real emphasis on practicality. We weren’t doing math for math’s sake; we were focused on how our analyses and theories would influence decisions and strategies in the real world.

Whenever I hear someone talking about UC Berkeley—its reputation or some of the cutting-edge research that happens there—I think to myself, "I’m part of that, too." When people realize that you have a Berkeley degree, they are immediately inclined to trust your abilities. It is the ultimate credential.

Intense, with a high return on investment

At first, I had qualms about the cost versus the likely outcome my MFE degree would produce in terms of intern and job placement. When the program office laid out the potential return on my investment—which is already coming true in terms of salary and job satisfaction—the decision was obvious.

Whether you work in finance or technology, you have to be able to explain and convince people of the value of your work. While at Berkeley Haas, I really learned how to present my work in terms that are accessible and understandable. That is a valuable skill I hadn’t worked on before.

Professors teach and expect rigorous thinking

The level of rigorous teaching is intense, and absolutely what I needed to do my job. For example, because Professor Eric Reiner required such a high degree of critical thinking, I’m now confident that I can put together a bullet-proof analysis. That kind of ability and credibility on the job is priceless.

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