True to its ambition of seeking a range of profiles covering many countries and educational backgrounds, the MSc DSAIS welcomed in September a diverse intake of students for its first full year of delivery at emlyon business school. A linguist, a lawyer, an engineer, an economist, and a mathematician explain their choice of program, how it fits with their professional goals, and the highlights of the MSc so far.

Following the launch of the MSc in Data Science & Artificial Intelligence in 2022, the new academic year saw the arrival of the first actual cohort. 35 students of 15 nationalities arrived at emlyon to embark on an intensive, enriching learning experience designed to blend the strategic with the technical in the ever-evolving realm of data, AI and how they can be used to do responsible business. True to the recruitment vision of the program, students from a variety of backgrounds arrived on campus, including Paolo Cosenza: "Following studies in Linguistics, I arrived with a basic knowledge of Computer Science and good professional experience in IT coupled with a natural passion for Data Science. I was drawn to the program for a good many reasons, including the chance to study and work in an international environment".

Although already an emlyon student, having graduated from the school's GBBA program, Gaël Cavecchia is another typical case of how "untypical" the first intake is: "My move from studying Law at Bachelor's level to the world of AI had already begun with the GBBA and then a 1-year internship in digital marketing and artificial intelligence. The choice of program and staying at emlyon were logical steps as part of my plan to become a data scientist, plus I had good academic results in quantitative courses to strengthen my application for the MSc. I had prior experience as a business analyst but opted for this program to step up and into advanced data and AI".

A blended program for a rich blend of students

Mirroring the hybrid make-up of the cohort is the range of areas the program covers, offering a mix of the right managerial and strategic skills to underpin the development and consolidation of technical knowledge. For Trisha Kumar, this is perfectly representative of the diversity that runs throughout the MSc and one of the key factors in opting for it: "I had already completed studies in Economics in the UK and had B2B tech sales experience in France under my belt. The switch to emlyon and the MSc were part of a clear plan to work in data science and AI. The diversity offered by the program was a major draw - diversity in terms of the skills taught (which cover the managerial and the technical) as well as the international exposure from which you benefit".

Behind the technical side to the program is a drive to prepare students for the industry that awaits. Business relevance is key to a science that is ever-changing and expertise in such a field is a major requirement of today's business world. For Kaushik Chakraborty, the deepening of his understanding via the MSc is key to where he sees himself in the future: "My intention is to acquire niche and in-demand skill sets in the domain of Data Science and have a deeper understanding of the subject matter, following studies in Electrical and Electronic Engineering and work experience in IT and consulting. The holistic teaching approach helps you gain insight into analytics and Data Science, enabling you to assimilate new concepts and exposing you to the latest tools and industry relevant projects. This is key to where I am heading career-wise".

A highlights-packed learning experience

When questioned on the program highlights so far, students frequently cite the multicultural dimension – in the sense of the cosmopolitan nature of the cohort and their backgrounds but also regarding learning trips and internship placements abroad. The curricular content has been carefully designed to meet student as well as industry expectations but so too has the approach taken and the ways in which students are encouraged to work. For Aurélie Ehoule, this is key to the preparation the MSc offers for working life: "The business cases and strategy planning elements to the curriculum give you a real sense of daily working life in the industry __, which nicely complements the industry focus of my previous studies in Mathematics in the US. The fact they are structured in teams also provides the ideal preparation for the ways of working you'll encounter in the future. And while we may all have specific career paths in mind, there is still room for consideration of other options thanks to fascinating insight into areas such as Systems Thinking and Branding".

Just six months into its inaugural year in operation, the MSc in Data Science & Artificial Intelligence is challenging and enriching the cohort with a 360-degree vision of the field , bridging management skills with technical know-how, and instilling the necessary confidence within the students to be industry-ready upon graduation. As one student quips but in all seriousness, "rather than looking like clowns in companies, the blended learning and technical skills we are acquiring are turning us into true Swiss army knives"! Cutting edge indeed…