A. Gary Anderson
Graduate School of Management

Alumnus Finds the Stories Hidden in the Data

In the growing field of business analytics, Erick Campos ’16, ’18 MBA meets demand for data-driven decisions
By Darin Estep |

Big Data is a big deal and getting bigger every day — but businesses need help making sense of the ever-increasing flood of information available to them. That’s where data analysts like Erick Campos ’16, ’18 MBA come in.

Erick Campos
Erick Campos ’16, ’18 MBA

“It doesn't matter whether you’re a food and beverage business or a marketing business, or any other business you can possibly imagine — decisions have to be driven by data,” he said. “We have so much data now and companies are asking, ‘What can the data tell us?’”

“What I think is rewarding is when I’m able to convey a story or a message with actual concrete fact as opposed to just having a theory based on gut feeling or intuition.”

Campos has witnessed the growing importance of data in a career that took him to several major employers in Southern California, including Disney and Tesla. Today he is a marketing financial analyst at Esri, a global leader in geographic information system software, location intelligence, and mapping. The company, based in Redlands, is a major employer in the Inland Empire — and a big draw for talented UCR School of Business graduates like Campos.

He is part of a professional field that is growing almost as fast as the zettabytes (that’s trillions of gigabytes) of data waiting to be analyzed. Demand for management analysts is expected to grow 10 percent a year through 2032, while employment of data scientists is expected to grow 35 percent.

Campos credits the preparation he received at UCR, starting with his bachelor’s degree in economics with a marketing focus. As he worked on his MBA, he put an emphasis on studying topics that would serve him well in his future career, including operational and supply chain analytics.

Today, the A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management offers a Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) program. The school also recently approved a business analytics concentration to the MBA program, and Campos, who keeps close ties to his alma mater, said he has been impressed.

“That’s exactly the kind of program I would have liked to join, although an MBA with a business analytics concentration is also a great option depending on your career goals,” he said. “It looks like a wonderful program, whether for a student fresh out of the bachelor’s degree program or someone who’s already a seasoned professional looking to make that extra jump to really sharpen those skills.”

Combining interests

As he sharpened his own skills, Campos uncovered many opportunities that reflected his interests. Before pivoting as an undergraduate to economics and consumer behavior, he studied computer engineering. Those disciplines combined to inform his work on his advanced degree — and in his career today.

“I studied a lot of game theory, that's where I first started getting that first taste of what analytics could be,” he said. “For my MBA degree, I really focused in on the analytics, operational analytics, supply chain analytics realm. And it kind of went full circle. A lot of the skills that I learned in my computer engineering days with the coding and database logic apply directly to the work that I do today.”

Erick Campos Disney

In addition to learning advanced coding skills in his MBA studies, Campos also had the opportunity to sharpen his organizational skills.

“A lot of the academic learning in the MBA program revolved around management — being able to work cohesively with different types of people,” he said. That experience proved invaluable to his work in supply chain analytics at Disney, and now as a marketing financial analyst at Esri.

“Working with a group of engineers is different from working with a group of creative marketing folks, which is different from working with finance folks, etc. I apply that learning directly to the work I'm doing now,” he said.

Campos also was active on campus to help polish his professional and management skills. As an undergraduate, he served as marketing officer for the mental health nonprofit To Write Love on Her Arms. As a graduate student, he was vice president of the AGSM Student Association. That supportive spirit continues — he happily shares advice to UCR students who reach out to him on LinkedIn.

So, you want to be a business analyst ...

Campos recommends that students who want to explore data analytics do their homework first.

“They might hear the term, ‘data analyst,’ but there are business analysts, there are data engineers, there are data scientists — and all of those things are different topics that require different skills,” he said. “Anyone trying to get into even just the realm of analytics, they need to identify exactly what they want to do.”

Campos notes UC Riverside students have a couple of career advantages in addition to academics. One is the geographic proximity to some great employers, as he found in his own experience. Another is the reputation of the university, combined with a solid alumni base.

“My company, Esri, is not that far from Riverside, and we hold a positive view of UCR Business students. Typically, when we bring them in as interns, they perform well, and many of them eventually become full-time employees,” he said.

He also advises students to ignore the stereotype of data analysts hiding behind a computer all day and not having to interact with co-workers. The reality is quite the opposite.

“It's really, in a sense, customer service-oriented, because I have to keep up with all of the different stakeholders and make sure that I am communicating what the audience needs,” he said.

“Because you're essentially creating a product, a great day in analytics is when you present a dashboard to stakeholders, and they're super excited to use it.”