September 17, 2021 • By Laurie McLaughlin
It’s a long way between Ghana, Atlanta and Irvine, but the academic journey that took Salem Arthur MSBA ’21 across the globe has been exactly what he hoped for.
“I’ve always tried to be a nomad of sorts. This is a ‘very big small world,’ and I want to see as much of it as I possibly can,” says Arthur, who grew up in Takoradi, Ghana. “My parents empowered my siblings and me with the freedom to explore our interests. I realized that if I put the work in, it was possible to study whatever and wherever I wanted in the world.”
Arthur has indeed put both the work and the mileage into his studies and career. He graduated from Atlanta’s Morehouse College in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in management and a minor in philosophy. Soon after graduation, he was working in sales at Gusto, a company supporting small businesses.
“I loved every minute at Gusto, but I really found it hard to envision a future for myself within that part of the business,” says Arthur. “Seeing the role that analytics plays in a product’s lifecycle and the decision-making process for the different parts of the business, I understood that there were several transferrable skills I could gain from earning a Master of Science in Business Analytics. It would help me become the global leader I want to be, whether I was working in product, marketing, finance or sales.”
Arthur enrolled in UC Irvine’s five-quarter Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) program, a master’s degree that is also offered within four quarters. “The five-quarter timeframe was great for me because I wasn’t as technically skilled as some of my classmates,” he says. “I was able to take time to understand and familiarize myself with the methodologies and tools we covered.”
True to his desire to see and do as much as he can, Arthur has immersed himself in a range of internships. He’s currently an engagement solutions analytics intern at Accolade, a healthcare solutions company serving organizations to support employees’ healthy lifestyles. “It’s been a challenging but rewarding summer understanding the various relationships that exist between the engagement we have with customers and the return on investment that we’re able to generate for them,” he says. “I’m learning how these insights can be used to influence decisions for our marketing and sales teams.” Previously, he interned with Home Depot, Opportunity Hub (a startup-building platform) and SponsorUnited.
Arthur first learned about the Merage School while at Morehouse when he participated in the Summer Institute for Emerging Managers and Leaders (SIEML), a program to increase diversity in graduate business programs within the six University of California business schools, which alternate hosting the SIEML each summer. The institute is an all-expenses paid, two-week immersive career-building experience for sophomores and juniors attending historically Black colleges and universities and Hispanic-serving institutions. Participants are eligible for two years of full fee and tuition fellowships at any of the UC graduate business schools, including the Merage School.
“Luckily, my second year in SIEML took place right here at UCI, and within those two weeks, I fell in love with the campus community, faculty and its philosophy of experiential learning,” says Arthur, who attended the SIEML a year previous at UC Riverside.
Having enrolled in the Merage School, Arthur completed a capstone project with the Anaheim Ducks during the course of his MSBA studies. “My team and I worked on a project to understand the relationships that existed between customers at Honda Center hockey games and the customers from community rinks — our insights could be used to help influence strategy, sales and marketing decisions that may convert rink customers to hockey game customers and vice versa,” he says.
Arthur is pleased with the trajectory he’s established: “As a sports fanatic, the business of sports and entertainment is a joy to dig into, and working in the business of spreading joy is something I would love to have the chance to do,” he says.
“The MSBA program does a great job of equipping students with every imaginable skill and tool that they would need in the real world. But even better, we have the chance to put that knowledge to work, making sizable impacts on the companies that we’re able to partner with in our capstone projects.”
He hasn’t decided what his next step will be professionally, but Arthur says he’s ready for just about anything in this “very big small world.” He says: “The MSBA program has an effective approach to preparing us with workshops, panel discussions and by presenting us with tangible, real-world problems to solve,” he says.
“From day one, the faculty and administration have been focused on setting us all up for success well beyond our time here as Anteaters.”