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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“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” - MLK, Jr.

Today, let's honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and reflect on what we can do as a community to march toward progress, equity and justice for all. Here are some ways to virtually celebrate MLK's legacy in the Bay Area: ow.ly/Izm750DbAuI
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“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” - MLK, Jr.

Today, lets honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and reflect on what we can do as a community to march toward progress, equity and justice for all.  Here are some ways to virtually celebrate MLKs legacy in the Bay Area: http://ow.ly/Izm750DbAuI

GGU is offering a FREE Small Business/Entrepreneurship Program this Spring. Learn how to build or restructure your business during COVID so you can be successful based on an actionable business plan. Application deadline is Jan 22: ow.ly/puWs50DaTf0 📉 📂 ... See MoreSee Less

GGU is offering a FREE Small Business/Entrepreneurship Program this Spring. Learn how to build or restructure your business during COVID so you can be successful based on an actionable business plan. Application deadline is Jan 22: http://ow.ly/puWs50DaTf0  📉  📂

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘what are you doing for others?’" – MLK Jr.

GGU is closed on Monday, Jan. 18 in observance of #MLKDay. Despite the limitations we face, there are lots of ways we can honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy this year, including City of Oakland’s 40 Days of Service At Home Actions. Starting today, Jan. 15, through Feb 28 you can find ideas and activities for virtual volunteering on the MLK 40 Days of Service website: ow.ly/eiYW50D9YMI
📷: ash_crow
... See MoreSee Less

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘what are you doing for others?’ – MLK Jr.

GGU is closed on Monday, Jan. 18 in observance of #MLKDay. Despite the limitations we face, there are lots of ways we can honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy this year, including City of Oakland’s 40 Days of Service At Home Actions. Starting today, Jan. 15, through Feb 28 you can find ideas and activities for virtual volunteering on the MLK 40 Days of Service website: http://ow.ly/eiYW50D9YMI
📷: ash_crow

Happy #NationalHatDay from a few GGU staffers! Did you know that #hats date back to before 3,300 BCE?

One of the earliest known hats was worn by a bronze-aged man nicknamed Otzi, whose body was found frozen in a mountain between Austria and Italy, where he had been since around 3250 BCE. He was discovered wearing a bearskin cap with a chinstrap made of several hides stitched together, resembling a Russian fur hat. Learn more fun hat facts here: ow.ly/60Ub50D9LgE
... See MoreSee Less

Happy #NationalHatDay from a few GGU staffers! Did you know that #hats date back to before 3,300 BCE? 

One of the earliest known hats was worn by a bronze-aged man nicknamed Otzi, whose body was found frozen in a mountain between Austria and Italy, where he had been since around 3250 BCE. He was discovered wearing a bearskin cap with a chinstrap made of several hides stitched together, resembling a Russian fur hat. Learn more fun hat facts here: http://ow.ly/60Ub50D9LgE

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