Success Stories
MS Business Analytics student
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December 17, 2019 |
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Alum Uses Data to Impact Housing Crisis

Kearey Smith wants to help find a solution to the housing crisis. Data science is helping him get there.

By Jenny McKeel
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When he isn’t spending time with his family, Kearey Smith dedicates himself to his other passions: photography and his Rottweilers. It keeps him grounded when he’s away from his demanding job at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission where he was recently promoted to the Assistant Director of Data and Visualization.

What drives Kearey at work is the Bay Area housing crisis. It’s affected his own family who moved out to Antioch, California, where real estate is more affordable. Like many others, Kearey spends three hours each day on his San Francisco commute. Early on in his long career at the MTC, Kearey switched his professional focus from urban policy to data.

Connecting Policy to Data

“I saw data as a foundational piece of what a public agency needs to understand better to make public policy. We need to understand how people move from place to place and how our organization would support the transit system and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Kearey.

Back in the early 2000s, Kearey began to lay the foundation for what he hoped would become a data strategy at his organization. His small team was poorly resourced. But, on his recommendation, HR began hiring staff with a data background, so that data expertise is distributed across the agency. Kearey also moved servers and infrastructure within his department to the cloud to reduce reliance on their IT department.

“Connecting policy to data and being data-driven was something I wanted our organization to pursue. To get there I knew we needed to do things way in advance. You have to play the long game in an organization like this.”

MS Business Analytics

Years later he picked up some data science certificates and, in 2017, he became interested in a master’s degree.

“The MSBA program was a natural fit for me. I had a lot to offer but also a lot to learn. What distinguished GGU from other programs is that the courses offer technical training and also the big picture through management, strategy, and performance theory,” said Kearey.

The Performance Management course lit a fire within Kearey.

“Everything we talked about in class connected to what I was doing at work. Drawing from my coursework, I prepared a presentation on what data strategy is and how we could implement it in our organization and delivered it to management,” said Kearey.

The Importance of Data Strategy

By the end of his program in 2019, Kearey’s department at the MTC agreed on the need for data strategy—an effort he had been working toward for years. He launched BASIS, Bay Area Spatial Information System, an initiative that will create a secure platform for collection, standardization, discovery, and dissemination of data to be used in regional planning efforts. The system will track information related to development conditions, land use, and environmental impacts associated with regional growth. It’s a great example of how the program helped him push forward innovative ideas that can make a difference in how policy and planning is done.

“The program was perfect for providing opportunities and giving me a greater foundation. Having a structured curriculum helped me leverage what I was doing at the agency and gave me the strategic tools to operate from. I learned the words to use to move people in a certain direction and can speak to problems through case studies we did in the coursework. It created a lot of opportunities.”

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GGU invites you to join us tomorrow for the debut of “GGU Presents,” an exciting new series of web-based events and content sure to generate discussion, stimulate ideas, and tickle your brain. Programming will showcase a gamut of speakers and presentations from both within and outside GGU—with a broad range of unique perspectives, talents, and stories

First up on our virtual stage is Jeffrey D. Yergler, D.Min., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Management and Department Chair at GGU. He’ll explore the effect that our current “season of disruption,” and the change of this magnitude, can have on our own sense of stability and well-being.

Thursday, April 9, 11 a.m. to Noon.

Then it's Marcia Ruben on Friday with: "Volatile Times for Leaders: Here's Your Action Plan."

You can register for those two live events and find the lineup for the next several speakers here: www.ggu.edu/about-ggu/ggu-presents.
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GGU invites you to join us tomorrow for the debut of  “GGU Presents,” an exciting new series of web-based events and content sure to generate discussion, stimulate ideas, and tickle your brain. Programming will showcase a gamut of speakers and presentations from both within and outside GGU—with a broad range of unique perspectives, talents, and stories

First up on our virtual stage is Jeffrey D. Yergler, D.Min., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Management and Department Chair at GGU. He’ll explore the effect that our current “season of disruption,” and the change of this magnitude, can have on our own sense of stability and well-being.

Thursday, April 9, 11 a.m. to Noon.

Then its Marcia Ruben on Friday with: Volatile Times for Leaders: Heres Your Action Plan.

You can register for those two live events and find the lineup for the next several speakers here: http://www.ggu.edu/about-ggu/ggu-presents.

Hi, I'm Toygar Koktuna, an international student from Turkey in the MBA, Business Analytics program and a student worker at GGU.

Going into my 5th week in quarantine, I’m getting used to doing everything from home. I work remotely Monday through Wednesday. After preparing breakfast and an Americano, I move to my desk, my workspace for work and school. Seeing my co-workers during our Monday team meeting helps me stay integrated and motivated.

During the rest of the week, I distribute my time among assignments, housework, and free time. Stretching in the morning really helps me stay balanced. I also play board games and PlayStation with my girlfriend, and we take the dog for walks. When my family and friends are awake in my home country, Turkey, we Facetime over virtual coffee. I think all of us are coming up with new ways of staying happy, and this period enables us to have time for the things we couldn’t do before and helps us discover new things we like. Stay safe, everyone!

GGU's summer term will be 100% online. Learn more about our degrees and certificates today: ow.ly/RWYt50z9ef1
#PeopleOfGGU
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Hi, Im Toygar Koktuna, an international student from Turkey in the MBA, Business Analytics program and a student worker at GGU.
 
Going into my 5th week in quarantine, I’m getting used to doing everything from home. I work remotely Monday through Wednesday. After preparing breakfast and an Americano, I move to my desk, my workspace for work and school. Seeing my co-workers during our Monday team meeting helps me stay integrated and motivated.
 
During the rest of the week, I distribute my time among assignments, housework, and free time. Stretching in the morning really helps me stay balanced. I also play board games and PlayStation with my girlfriend, and we take the dog for walks. When my family and friends are awake in my home country, Turkey, we Facetime over virtual coffee. I think all of us are coming up with new ways of staying happy, and this period enables us to have time for the things we couldn’t do before and helps us discover new things we like. Stay safe, everyone!

GGUs summer term will be 100% online. Learn more about our degrees and certificates today: http://ow.ly/RWYt50z9ef1
#PeopleOfGGU

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Stay home and stay safe 😷

Hi Toygar!

Our Student Government Association is hosting an online student forum this Friday at 6pm! As we navigate through these uncertain times, this will be an incredible opportunity to learn from each other and have your questions answered! RSVP and submit questions: tinyurl.com/SGAForum20 ... See MoreSee Less

Our Student Government Association is hosting an online student forum this Friday at 6pm! As we navigate through these uncertain times, this will be an incredible opportunity to learn from each other and have your questions answered! RSVP and submit questions: tinyurl.com/SGAForum20
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Students: President Fike announced today that classes will continue all online through the summer term. Deans will be hosting webinars to answer questions. See your email for details about those. And remember, you can always stay up-to-date with our special coronavirus web site here: newsroom.ggu.edu/coronavirus/main/

Dear GGU Students,

I hope that you are doing well and staying healthy. I know that many of you are struggling to balance all of your responsibilities and determine what the next few weeks and months will look like. While we all adjust to the changing nature of our work, school, and everyday lives, I wanted to provide you with information about the Summer term, beginning May 10th, at Golden Gate University that will hopefully help you plan your educational path.

In order to provide some certainty during the ongoing public health crisis, we have made the decision to convert our summer in-person classes to distance learning in the business schools and undergraduate program. The classes will remain in these formats for the entire summer 2020 term.

Courses listed as offered in-person (SF) will primarily be delivered via Zoom technology, and students will meet at the same time each week with their class.

Courses listed as cyber courses will continue to be delivered via the eLearning platform in an asynchronous format. Students can log in when they want throughout the week to participate in course materials.

Hybrid, Web Conference and Mixed Mode courses will be delivered using a combination of Zoom and eLearning platforms, with some class sessions requiring online attendance at a specified time and date.

Students who are receiving veteran’s BAH benefits must be registered for at least one in-person, hybrid or mixed mode course at all times throughout the entire trimester (even though these courses will be converted to online mode due to the public health crisis) in order to meet the requirements for SF BAH residency for that trimester.

International students in F-1 status must continue to enroll full-time with at least two in-person courses (that will be converted to online) unless authorized for a reduced course load.

Our current understanding is that distance learning will have limited impact on the benefits or visa status of our veteran and international students, respectively, if you follow the guidelines described above. However, if you have questions about the implications of continued distance learning on your BAH or visa status, please follow up with us so that we can address your concerns.

Veterans – email VA@ggu.edu
International Students – email uac@ggu.edu
For questions about how continued distance learning might affect your financial aid, email finaid@ggu.edu.

We know that many of you came to GGU to increase the career opportunities available to you, and we recognize that you and other students have had to adapt suddenly to the current circumstances. This situation has affected colleges and universities in the U.S. and throughout the world. You have received messages from Vice President for Academic Affairs Barbara Karlin about our recent changes in grading policies during this unusual time. We want to continue to partner with you to achieve your educational and career goals. Please let us know how we can further support your success.

Thank you,

David J. Fike
President
Golden Gate University
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