It took a career in sales, a trip around the world and starting her own company to help Leslie Cervantes find her sweet spot. Now, an MS in Predictive Analytics is an important part of her new goal: to work in the sports field as a marketing data analytics expert.
After studying economics as an undergraduate, Cervantes got in on the ground floor of CareerBuilder, where she rose to an account executive position. That experience helped her enter medical sales, a field she had been eyeing for its rich opportunities. Her company was later bought out, but Cervantes used the opportunity to fulfill a longtime dream and travel the world — 16 countries in one year. When she returned, she formed Cardinal Home Health Services with her mother, a former director of nursing and “the perfect business partner.” But the different experiences — and big changes in healthcare — made her think it was time to follow her true passions.
“I love sports, and even while I was traveling I volunteered as a soccer coach at an orphanage in Argentina,” she says. “But I’m also a ‘tech geek’ who loves data — statistics were my favorite college courses.I found that the MSPA degree was a great way for me to transition to sports marketing analytics and complement the business skills I already had.”
The online program format helped Cervantes stay full-time at her business, while the program’s core courses helped her develop new skill sets. But the real turning point came when she took instructor Vivek Ajmani’s predictive modeling courses.
“Going from my home health business to sports analytics is a 180,” she explains. “But Dr. Ajmani had us do problems based on our interests, so I could find out early on if this is something I really want to do. I loved getting the answers and doing the analysis for the sports industry questions I had, so it was clear that I was on the right track. Regardless of where I go next, I’m setting myself up for success.”