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Bentley alumna Pearl Brian-Esma

An Eye for Analytics

Pearl Brian-Esema, MBA, MSBA ’19 on rational decision-making

Kristen Walsh 

Growing up in Abuja, Nigeria, Pearl Brian-Esema, MBA, MSBA ’19 remembers her father inviting her to listen in on his business calls. It wasn’t so much the topic of buying and selling crude oil that interested her. She was intrigued by the specialized terms and acronyms he used: FOBs and negotiating, among others. 

“I have always had a business mindset and I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps, so I got my undergraduate degree in accounting,” says Brian-Esema, who went on to look at grad schools with an eye toward pursuing a career in accounting.

Bentley’s Graduate Dual Degree program — an opportunity to earn an MBA and Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) — changed her mind.

Link an MBA with a Master of Science Degree

“I always make a pros-and-cons list when a big decision is to be made, and acquiring business analytical skills weighed more for me,” Brian-Esema explains. “It was a perfect balance. I exceled in my MBA program, while the MSBA was a big learning curve for me. But I believe if you do not feel challenged, you cannot grow.”

It was the Discover Bentley program that first brought Brian-Esema to campus in fall 2015. Open to under-represented students of color from U.S. institutions, the graduate school exploration program includes class visits, conversations with current graduate students and faculty, networking with corporate partners, and an introduction to the admission and financial aid process. 

“Classes were engaging, learning facilities were technology-driven and I was sold when I saw the Trading Room,” reports Brian-Esema. “I looked at what alumni were doing after graduation, my program of interest and the reputation of Bentley. It seemed like a wonderful fit.” 

Discover Bentley would continue to pay dividends. Brian-Esema reconnected with a PwC executive she had met at a networking dinner, which led to an interview for an internship.

“The Big 4 does not typically hire interns for the same year, and I was grateful to be the exception,” says Brian-Esema, whose Bentley experience also included membership in the National Black MBA Association and serving as a staff assistant in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

I’ve grown to like analytics because depending on what you are trying to do, the ultimate goal is having enough data to improve decision-making.

Group projects were a valuable part of both graduate programs. The MBA course Global Strategy, for example, included a project focused on PayPal.

“I took the initiative to organize and lead team meetings, check in with everyone to make sure they understood their responsibilities and offer guidance,” says Brian-Esema, who would improve her own skills in delegating and time management.

Another project, part of the MSBA program, called for using Tableau data visualization software.

“We got the dataset from a team member's company, to understand why some employees were not as productive and the factors impacting them,” she explains. “I have grown to like analytics because, depending on what you are trying to do, the ultimate goal is having enough data to improve decision-making. Making rational decisions can make or break your business.”

Think about where you are and where you want to be and how having a graduate degree will help take you there.

Brian-Esema’s experience and skills have found a home at Accenture. Her work as a consulting digital analyst involves data visualization, research and data function integration. The COVID-19 pandemic has posed a challenge for one of Brian-Esema’s favorite parts of her job: working in-person with clients.

“I’ve been blocking time on calendars of people I want to connect and reconnect with, and trying to make it more personal by turning on the video,” she says. “This is something none of us has experienced before, but what we can do is be intentional.”

An intentional mindset can also help people determine whether a graduate degree is right for them, advises Brian-Esema.

“Think about where you are and where you want to be, and how having a graduate degree will help take you there. For me, I knew it would provide new skills and knowledge that would make me very competitive in the job market, expand my horizon and allow me to make positive change in my community.”

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