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MBA Grad Dan Pitluck Stays Current as Analytics Instructor

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Working professionally as a data analyst for Columbia Sportswear, Dan Pitluck, MBA ‘18, saw an opportunity to stay within the vibrant loop between the college and the business of business analytics.

October 1, 2021

Dan Pitluck, MBA ‘18, was one of the early recipients of the then new Oregon State MBA in Business Analytics, and he saw a number of changes – all good: the development of fully online programs, the additional program options, and even the uptick of community and industry enthusiasm and involvement.

Working professionally as a data analyst for Columbia Sportswear, Pitluck quickly saw an opportunity to stay within the vibrant loop between the college and business and the Business Analytics Advisory Council. Advisory councils, which are developed for every major at the College of Business, supply the vital exchange between industry and academics and build powerful networks for our students.

And last year, Pitluck took his engagement one step further, returning to the graduate program as an instructor.

The invitation came from business analytics program director, Associate Professor Bin Zhu, and Pitluck says he “jumped at the chance” to pursue greater involvement and strengthen the program’s network.

“In the years after graduating I have seen a lot more community and industry involvement, including the creation of the symposium, adding junior membership to the advisory circle, and increased involvement in capstone projects,” Pitluck said.

Though still an early-career professional in the emerging field of analytics, Pitluck has built a résumé with an impressive amount of work experience focused on data analytics. He started working at a small, medical-billing review company as a research analyst immediately after completing his undergraduate degree in mathematics. 

“At a company of that size everyone has to wear a lot of hats,” Pitluck said. “My mentor had a lot of faith in me and regularly sent me projects that required new skills and technologies.” Pitluck describes long workdays and lots of learning, picking up skills like SQL, javascript and business strategy on the job. 

Pursuing an MBA became a logical next step, and Pitluck approached graduate studies with the same passion and enthusiasm. “I sought out a lot of extracurricular opportunities,” Pitluck said. “I competed in the ACG Cup Investment Banking Competition both years – our team won the second year. I reached out to guest speakers for coffee and lunch meetings; I sourced project partners for my capstone. These things taught me many things outside of coursework, most importantly, pitching ideas and communicating with executives.”

In many ways, Pitluck was destined for the MBA program and to return to inspire the students. His undergraduate work in mathematics and a business minor, completed in 2014, came as Big Data was hitting the business lexicon but not in time for him to decide to pursue business analytics outright as a career specialty.

“If I had been tapped into business analytics earlier, I would have taken a lot more computer science courses,” Pitlick said. “I have been lucky to have mentors and bosses that trusted me to learn new skills as needed and have an eventful journey into the data world.”

As a data analyst for Columbia Sportswear Company, Pitluck is responsible for sourcing data, architecting data pipelines, building dashboards as well as educating his colleagues on these tools, and his MBA gives him the business and leadership skills to translate these rivers of data into business insights for decision-making. He advises colleagues including the COO, CFO, CIO, international business partners, and various business partners of all levels at Columbia Sportswear.

He is both closing the loop by giving back to his alma mater as well as continuing to leverage thought leadership brought by the high levels of industry engagement that makes the Oregon State MBA such a valuable program.

“Understanding the business and how our work fits in requires a broad knowledge base beyond analytics that my MBA provided,” he said. “Learning never stops, so also being involved in the advisory circle and as an instructor helps keep me sharp.”

Professional advice from Dan Pitluck, MBA ‘18

  1. Finding a mentor is invaluable. It’s not easy, and you have to be eager to learn and work hard. But these are the colleagues that will know you the best and help you the most along the way.
  2. Network and say “yes” to opportunities. As you develop in your career, you’ll have to say “no” more often, but taking on opportunities early will allow you to learn many new skills and, more importantly, you’ll learn about yourself: what you like to do, what you want to do, etc.
  3. As for networking, this intimidates a lot of people, but it is important. Most people love to talk about themselves and what they do, so being genuinely curious and asking questions goes a long way to make a connection. The key is to remember who you talk to and about what. This will help you have more in-depth conversations and provide opportunities for yourself and others later on. There is no trick and some people are better than others. If you find this difficult, keep practicing. We’re social creatures, and you will get better.
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