After graduating from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln with a degree in mathematics, Casey Christensen, ’17 & ’21, wanted to expand her analytical skills and advance her career. Four promotions later, she knew she made the right decision enrolling in the business analytics graduate certificate program at the College of Business.
“I started with the certificate program because it included four courses and was not as extensive of a time commitment as a full master’s degree. I knew I could roll all of the courses into a full master’s program later if I desired to continue,” said Christensen, a Lincoln, Nebraska, native. “At the same time, I knew the certificate alone would be a great addition to my working portfolio and help me advance in my career.”
While in the certificate program, Christensen saw opportunities to apply what she learned in class directly to her work at Spreetail as a senior cost of goods sold analyst. The online format of the program allowed her to work full-time while earning her certificate.
“A great benefit of taking the program online while working was being able to immediately apply and try out models, processes and concepts learned in class at work,” she said. “I work in a few cities and like to travel, so there were periods where I was taking class from Texas, Florida, Colorado and even on a cruise!”
Dr. Scott Swenseth, associate professor of supply chain management and analytics, who teaches in the program, explains how the curriculum is set to help students address a rising demand across organizations for analytical skills.
“Supply chain management and business analytics have always been fundamental to business success but have been propelled to the forefront of everyone’s attention through current events, particularly those related to the pandemic. The certificate programs in supply chain management, supply chain analytics and business analytics are designed to blend the theoretical backgrounds in the fields with practical applications,” he said.
Swenseth credited Christensen with her ability to connect materials from class to what was happening in the world.
“Casey demonstrated through interactive discussions a tremendous understanding of the links between supply chain events and the materials covered in supply chain management and business analytics courses. Establishing these links between theory and practice will help propel Casey to ongoing career success,” he said.
Courses such as Risk and Simulation Modeling (SCMA 837) helped strengthen Christensen’s analytics talents. Taught by Dr. David Olson, James & H.K. Stuart Chancellors Distinguished Chair and professor of supply chain management and analytics, the course helps prepare students for practical application to real-life work in supply chain.
“Organizations are realizing that measuring and modeling risks help them survive the challenges life and the economy throw their way. We cover several tools that can help students contribute to their organizations’ risk management,” he said.
Designed to provide a smooth transition into a full-fledged master’s degree, the certificate program allowed Christensen to roll her credit hours over and continue into the college’s Master of Science in Business Analytics program after earning her certificate. Her success in both enabled Christensen to push herself further at Spreetail, leading to four promotions at the company.
“I started at Spreetail analyzing the very last stage of our business with a customer – returns. I now look at the very beginning of the chain by analyzing the cost at which we procure our inventory and how those costs flow through each of Spreetail's systems,” she said. “I credit the program for equipping me with how to generate new analytical concepts and processes within the company I work for.”
Since earning her master’s this spring, Christensen shares her success with those close to her and even convinced a friend to enroll in the certificate program.
“I told him the program was a great way to level up your analytical ability at your own pace, and from the comfort of whatever location you choose,” she said. “The program does a great job of being accessible, justifiable and rewarding.”
While utilizing both her certificate and master’s degree, Christensen looks forward to building out her own analytical team at Spreetail. In addition, she plans to continue to expand her own responsibilities while still spending quality time with her kitten, Cannoli.
To learn more about graduate certificate programs at the College of Business, visit: https://business.unl.edu/certificates.