by Jenifer Shockley
ATLANTA – Starr Companies, a global insurance and investment organization, and SunTrust Banks Inc., a national financial services company, have become the inaugural business partners for the Institute for Insight at the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University.
The Institute for Insight brings students and institutions together to explore new business opportunities that leverage the insight that can be drawn from big data analytics. Through their partnership with the Robinson College, Starr Companies and SunTrust will have access to Robinson’s tools, talent and resources to help create and test business innovations using big data analytics. The companies will partner with the Institute for Insight’s faculty, staff and students and have access to technology, including access to non-proprietary datasets.
“The Robinson College is thrilled to have Starr Companies and SunTrust, two legends in the business community, partnering on our efforts to ensure students have immersive experiences with real data solving tough business problems,” said Richard D. Phillips, dean of the Robinson College. “It is partnerships like these that bring to life our vision, ‘No one gets closer to business than Robinson.'”
The institute is home to the Robinson College’s newest specialized master’s degree, the master of science in analytics. This STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)-based degree combines “hard skills” in statistics, computer science and business along with “soft skills” through a deep immersion program where students work with experienced industry data scientists and Georgia State researchers in the institute’s Insight Lab.
“Decision-making driven by data analytics contributes to the profitability of an organization. To be valuable, it requires human interpretation to uncover hidden insights and creatively solve business problems,” said Mike Toran, chief information officer at Starr Companies. “We are excited to partner with Georgia State University, an institute with a vision to embed these skill sets into the next generation of insurance executives.”
“This partnership with the Robinson College of Business is a win-win for the students and for SunTrust,” said Jerome Lienhard, chief risk officer at SunTrust. “The participating students will gather real-life experience analyzing data and looking for insight and solutions, and SunTrust will gain additional information and perspectives as it responds to an ever-changing banking environment.”
Introduced in August 2015, the institute is being built around an interdisciplinary research faculty, including new appointments to Robinson and those who recently transferred from other departments to support the growth in corporate and student interest.
Faculty members who have moved into the institute include Associate Professor Abhay Mishra, an information systems scientist with research interests in health care analytics, who has been supporting the development of the institute for the past year. Economist Martin Grace, a Regent’s Professor of the University System of Georgia, comes with research expertise in risk management and insurance. Grace will provide senior faculty leadership and will participate in the development of the risk analytics programming of the institute. Additional faculty members will be appointed to the institute for the coming academic year.
“Through the Institute for Insight, Robinson provides an interdisciplinary approach to exploring and solving real data issues, dissecting the problems and creating management plans,” Phillips said. “Students master a set of mathematical, computational and statistical methods that are then applied in a variety of settings, including marketing analytics, health analytics and risk analytics.”
Degree programs that traditionally have not included analytics can now integrate analytics through the Institute for Insight. Students in a variety of master’s programs at Robinson have benefitted from hands-on learning, and in fall 2016, Robinson’s Professional MBA students will begin leading projects in the institute as well.
The largest business school in the South and part of a major research institution, Georgia State University’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business has 200 faculty, 8,000 students and 75,000 alumni. With programs on five continents and students from 88 countries, the college is world-class and worldwide. Its part-time MBA is ranked among the best by the Bloomberg Businessweek and U.S. News & World Report, and its Executive MBA is on the Financial Times list of the world’s premier programs. Located in Atlanta, the Robinson College and Georgia State have produced more of Georgia’s top executives with graduate degrees than any other school in the Southeast.