New Horizons through Data Specialization

A marketer pushes himself to become more data-driven through the world of analytics.

Written by Philip Baker
man smiling in front of trees

Hear from a student who discusses the evolution of his career and how he has come to understand not just the value of data in today’s world, but the importance of being someone who knows how to use it.

With a background in mechanical engineering, first-year Master of Science in Analytics (MScA) student Chris Marasco started his career in 2007 at the intersection of project management and marketing overseeing the creation of personalized display racks for showroom floors. Roughly eight years later, however, what he had faintly suspected at the outset had become difficult to ignore: the brick and mortar stores his work was designed for were closing faster than they were opening. At that point, he knew it was time to make a shift, he says.

About Chris Marasco

Data Enablement at Oracle
Chicago, IL
Following European soccer

With data rapidly becoming the new currency, he redeployed his experience producing marketing displays to the digital world.“That was the biggest pivot of my career,” Marasco says. “I took the concept of personalized marketing I’d used in the brick and mortar space and applied it to the digital world. But once I made the shift to digital, a new world opened up for me very quickly. I started moving away from a purely marketing perspective and focusing on the data that served as the fuel for marketing.”

New Career Foundations

From here, Marasco’s specialization in data began. More and more, he started basing marketing strategies on knowledge gained from data analysis. Working in conjunction now with data scientists, he used data taken from a broad range of domains to monitor and react to the ever-shifting landscape around him. In fact, the more he came to rely on the field of data science, the more he began to wonder whether it was a path worth pursuing in its own right. “Everything is data driven today,” he says. “People don’t get to make decisions because of gut feelings anymore. I began seeing how this was true all across organizations, from business intelligence and marketing to operations. That’s how I knew deepening my familiarity with data analysis was key to moving forward in my career.” While Marasco’s degree in mechanical engineering had no special emphasis on computer programming, it did provide him with the confidence to pursue those skills. With his eyes set on getting a degree in data science from a prestigious institution, he started taking online courses in computer programming and data science as a way to strengthen his application. “I completed twelve courses by the time I applied to UChicago’s MScA program,” he says. “I decided that, if I was going to go back to school, I wanted to learn from leaders in the field, but I also wanted the name on my degree to open up doors for me. There’s a reason the University of Chicago has the reputation it has. If I didn’t think my degree would build a new foundation in my career, I wouldn’t be doing it.”

Digital Objectives for the Future

From his current position at Oracle, where he assists marketers with the data and tools they need to make effective decisions, Marasco looks to the future and sees data becoming an even bigger component in business decisions. After all, over the course of his fifteen-year career spanning multiple roles and industries, the growing influence of data and digitalization has served as the prime driver of his own evolution.“My goal for the coming years is to develop the skills to become a chief digital officer,” he says. “I see that role as being apivotal addition to the C-suite in upcoming years. From there, I’d like to steer digital transformation projects. But in whatever way my career progresses,” he adds, “I’m certain the investment I’m making by learning analytics at the University of Chicago will yield important returns.”

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