Misha Ghosh has been a member of our Industry Board since its inception eight years ago. During his years spent working at MasterCard and Wells Fargo, he has acquired a plethora of knowledge around data analytics that can be applied towards many businesses' decision making processes.
How did you become involved in data analytics? Were you always interested in having a career in this field?
After graduating from high school, I knew I wanted to go to college but was unsure of what to major in. My father had a Master’s in Statistics, and I was good at mathematics, so not being too original, I pursued statistics and got a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Statistics. As a young professional, I was always interested in exploring the world of data and how it can be leveraged for decision-making.
It was my second job out of college that convinced me to pursue a career in data analytics. I worked in the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) industry, specifically Pre-hospital care, aka the ambulance industry. I was tasked to determine the number of 911 and private ambulances on the road at any given moment and where they should be located. Those days, an ambulance staffed with two paramedics in the San Francisco Bay area cost $500,000 a year. From a company perspective, we wanted to have as few ambulances as possible. Still, from a patient care perspective, we wanted to have as many ambulances on the road as possible. The contracts determined this tug-of-war of how many ambulances to deploy. The contracts stipulated that we get the ambulances to the destination within 10 minutes, 90% of the time. If we were delayed, the company would incur a $ 10-a-minute penalty. This fast-paced environment introduced me to modeling, forecasting, operations research, and visualization, and I fell in love with it. This experience gave me a basic understanding of the fundamentals of data analytics, such as data acquisition, cleaning, and manipulation, and the importance of data visualization. I have since applied my data skills to many industries: the ambulance industry, engineering automation market research, HR payroll, payments, and banking to drive decision-making in an organization.
How long have you worked at Wells Fargo, and how long have you been in this position?
I have been with Wells Fargo for three years now. I have been in my current position for a little over a year.
How would you describe your responsibilities at Wells Fargo to someone who may not be well-versed in data science?
The role that our team has is very interesting. I think of us as being advocates for our customers. How can we, collectively as a bank, improve the financial health of our customers via better data insights?
Tell us about your time working with MasterCard. It has been said that you studied metrics to determine which side of the road would be better for stores to be located based on customer behavior. Can you elaborate?
Going down memory lane, in 2013, Ajay Banga, the then-CEO of MasterCard, had the largest (internal) global innovation challenge; the winning prize was $250,000. To make a long story short, we won the prize, and the resulting product came to be known as MasterCard Retail Location Insights. So, what was the idea? The heart of any retail business is the point-of-sale device (or a collection of point-of-sale devices). We can determine the location's desirability by measuring the data flowing through these devices and comparing them to one another. The five time-series metrics were: Sales, Growth, Stability, Ticket Size, and the number of Transactions. This same criterion can be used to understand gas stations across the street from one another. Even though they are in such close proximity of each other, they can each stay in business and charge different amounts per gallon because customers will go to whichever station is more convenient for them based on traffic.
A video describing MasterCard's Retail Location Insights can be found here.
How long have you been on the Industry Board?
I have been with the industry board for 8 years now. I believe I have been with the board since its inception. Professor Mirsad Hadzikadic invited me to join the board, and I have been here ever since.
What are your responsibilities as a member of the Board?
I provide oversight and ongoing feedback on the curriculum and the desired skill set of the students that the industry is looking for.
What can you share about the board’s plans for the upcoming year?
The focus currently is to create a Ph.D. in Data Sciences. We are also focused on partnering with fellow board members at various companies to get the necessary backing.
How do you personally contribute to the school?
Besides mentoring students, I have been a guest lecturer in data visualization and analytics. One of the challenges students face today is the lack of real data. I have amassed 20+ years of USPTO utility patent data. I have made this available via the website IDiyas.com | Tracking hyperlocal inventors and patent insights that students can play with and derive new insights. Besides UNC Charlotte, the site has students from Ardrey Kell High School, Sun Valley High School, NCSSM, NC State, MIT, UNC Chapel Hill, and the University of Chicago interacting and learning from one another. I have yet to meet most of the students I have mentored in person. We usually interface via Slack on weekends and late evenings.