From Chicago startups to Big Four consulting


Young man in a suit against a skyline background.
Quinlan has “committed leaders tracking the pulse of Chicago business and beyond ,” says James D. Pietrarosso (BBA ’15, MSBDA ’18).

Occupation: Senior Consultant at PwC

Program: MS in Business Data Analytics

Double Quinlan alum James D. Pietrarosso (BBA ’15, MSBDA ’18) began to realize the impact data and analytics would have on business during his undergrad days working in the Chicago startup community. His second round of experience at Quinlan led him to pursue a career in consulting after graduation.

Why did you choose Quinlan?

The first time I graduated from Quinlan was in 2015 with a BBA in Management. Throughout my undergraduate career and for two years following, I was also heavily involved in the Chicago startup community, most notably as the head of marketing at a venture-backed fintech firm and later as a co-founder of an 1871 member company.

Being in that space, and being aware of data’s meteoric rise in both quantity and value, the extent to which analytics would have an impact on how businesses operated and succeeded was obvious.

Within a week of deciding that I wanted to pursue an advanced degree, Quinlan announced their new graduate program, the Master of Science in Business Data Analytics. It was this unique fit with my professional trajectory, in addition to already being a proud Rambler and alum, which led me to choose Quinlan for the second time.

What are you doing now, and how did Quinlan help you get there?

I’m a senior consultant at PwC Advisory, specifically within our Analytics & AI and Enterprise Strategy & Growth practices. I work with Fortune 500 clients on solutions related to advanced analytics and data and decision science, as well as data-driven customer, marketing, and digital strategy more generally.

The MSBDA program has helped me get to where I am in a number of ways. I grew overall as a leader, continued to develop a strong business acumen, learned how to manage different phases of the data analytics lifecycle and, in the process, wrote my first-ever machine learning algorithm.

Lastly, and importantly, it was because of recommendations from several of my Quinlan professors and mentors that I started to consider a career in consulting and am on the exciting path that I’m on today.

What was your favorite Quinlan experience?

Outside of the traditional Loyola experience, including the city-central location and variety of applicable classes and industry-vetted professors, the most memorable part of the MSBDA program was the opportunity to work with Quinlan’s corporate partners on a real-world data analytics project. The added experience of applying classroom-obtained knowledge to a legitimate business problem was not only educational in its own right but also valuable in giving us a competitive edge within the job market and setting us up for our future careers.

Do you have any advice for current students in the program?

The MSBDA curriculum isn’t intended to turn you into the next best computer programmer but rather equip you with the skills necessary to head a team of business analysts, data scientists, and technologists, as well as the business problem on which they are all working to solve.

Take advantage of this by focusing on your individual qualities as a leader, learning a bit more about the technical areas of the field that you hadn’t previously been exposed to, and building strong relationships with your peers, professors, and partners.

Why Quinlan?

Committed leaders tracking the pulse of Chicago business and beyond.

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