Jenkins MBA Alumnus joins Apple as Data Scientist on its new RTP site
How far can you go fast with a Jenkins MBA? In Ryan Coble’s case, he arrived at Apple a month before he even finished the MBA program.
Ryan Coble ’21, a data scientist at Apple’s new Research Triangle Park (RTP) operation in Durham, North Carolina, credits the MBA with preparing him for both the intensive interview process of Apple and for his responsibilities in the position, which he started in November 2021.
He pursued an MBA “because I wanted to demonstrate that I had strong business acumen and leadership abilities to potentially climb the corporate ladder,” he says. “I thought an MBA was the feather in my cap that could get me into” various employment sectors.
Coble, who had been content with his job as a data science engineer at Verizon, was not looking to join Apple at this point in his career. Then came Apple’s announcement last year of a new RTP campus to focus on artificial intelligence and machine learning, both related to data science, followed by job postings for scientists. Apple data.
Coble took notice. Well-prepared with an MBA almost in his pocket and the Jenkins certificate in business analysis he earned as an MBA student, “I thought it was the alignment of the stars. It was perfect,” he says.
It helped that he had the foundation for another master’s degree and two undergraduate degrees, all from NC State.
One of the main reasons he chose Jenkins was the MBA program’s emphasis on technology. “That’s where I was already in my career,” says Coble, who was participating in the online MBA program for working professionals. “I felt it would further help my career prospects,” as many classmates were also working in tech-focused jobs, which provided useful networking opportunities.
The technology focus of the program included two real-world classroom projects particularly relevant to Coble.
For a marketing research course with an analytics component, students worked with a company to determine the best sales channel to use during covid – online marketing or in-store marketing. Students generated and distributed a survey, aggregated responses, and performed analyzes on the results. Coble and his project teammates then made recommendations for the company based on the data they collected.
During the semester-long business analysis internship, Coble’s team worked with an RTP company to predict demand for their product. Students examined data over time on the impact of various factors, including where customers’ orders are coming from, on trends. Next, they provided a six-month forecast for product demand to indicate how much product the company might need to ship each month.
Such hands-on experiences in the MBA program “gave me ways to use data science in the corporate world that I see myself using at Apple and potentially beyond,” Coble says.
And that real-world exposure gave him experience to showcase in Apple’s interview process, which was seven interviews in four rounds.
To prepare, Coble reviewed her MBA class notes before each round. Some of the interview questions matched exactly what was in his notes. During an interview, he had to analyze data and provide insights and recommendations based on the results of A/B tests, which compare the user experience using two different variants. Coble leveraged what he had learned about A/B testing in a Jenkins digital marketing course.
The MBA courses were 100% relevant to the interview process and to what I do in my current role.
He cites other aspects of the MBA program that have been particularly helpful: Professors such as Donnie Hale, who taught most of his business analysis classes and supported him through his interview process with Apple; the relationships he has forged with fellow MBA students; and the Poole College of Management Career Center, which helped him polish his CV.
Coble’s work at Apple will also make his resume stand out.
Within the Wallets, Payments and Commerce team of Apple’s Data Science Unit, he is responsible for data science and analytics for features such as Apple Card, Apple Cash, Wallet Apple and the App Store. One of its tasks is to analyze the data to find ways to improve these features.
While Apple’s RTP campus is under construction, Coble is working remotely but expects to be onsite eventually. He looks forward to working with colleagues in person and networking with employees from other RTP companies.
What he enjoys most about his job at Apple is “the level of responsibility,” says Coble.
I work for the most profitable company in the world on products that people around the world use every day… Knowing that I have an impact on these products is a nice feeling.