Sujatha Chinnappa

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Occupation: Senior manager, data and analytics, Encompass at Allstate Insurance

Education: Bachelor of Engineering and Computer Science from Sathyabama University

Tell us about yourself.

I am the leader of Encompass Insurance in the data and analytics department at Allstate. I am responsible for data and analytics strategy, technology ecosystem modernization and architecture, the roadmap, budget management, strategic initiatives and a variety of ongoing support for top-line and bottom-line business goals and objectives. I manage and lead the Hadoop data engineering and information analysis global teams for Encompass to enable successful delivery of strategic initiatives.

What initially attracted you to the data science field?

I have been looking for a suitable master’s degree for a while, and also considered an MBA. However, each program had different things to offer that somehow didn’t fit for my career field, interests and combination of subjects I was looking for. The interdisciplinary nature of data science, with the right combination of mathematics, technology and data solutions, was a perfect match for my passion and career interests.

Why did you decide to pursue a Master of Science in Data Science?

The data science field offers the perfect combination of statistics, machine learning, technology and data problem-solving techniques. Considering my field is primarily data-focused, this is kind of an ideal fit for my interests. I am a continuous learner and given the current emerging data science technologies and big data ecosystem, I decided to pursue an M.S. in data science and I’m extremely thrilled about it.

What skills and tools that the program covers do you think are most appealing?

The program curriculum overall is very focused and intense on statistical modeling and machine learning, and I also appreciate the project-based, hands-on work we complete.

How are you able to apply what you are learning into your current position?

Considering my role as a leader of data and analytics implementations, and teams performing this work, the data science program has definitely made me think outside of the box about connecting emerging advanced analytics ecosystems and bringing innovation to data solutions to provide creative solutions. In addition, I strongly believe that the program gives me the skills and industry knowledge to help further deepen my skills, confidence and subsequent career growth.

What do you think of the online learning experience?

It’s been a great experience so far. I’ve worked in a global environment for several years, so I’m very used to video conferencing and remote working. I prefer the flexibility of online classroom settings rather than have in-class sessions because online helps me save the time to travel. The online classroom doesn’t feel any different than an on-campus classroom.

What do you hope to accomplish with a Master of Science in Data Science?

My main intent is to deepen the statistical and data mining knowledge and get hands-on with solving data problems using data science. I hope that the academic credentials and the skills I gain will be instrumental for enabling business opportunities at my current job and subsequently gaining future jobs in data science field.

Learn more about DataScience@SMU students by visiting our class profile.