Managerial Analytics in Practice and in the Classroom

Yuri Balasanov is managing director of quantitative research and risk management at Sachs Capital Group LP, and he is bringing his experience to Northwestern's Master of Engineering Management (MEM) program, where he will teach Managerial Analytics beginning in January.

Yuri BalasanovThe world of analytics is constantly changing, making it an interesting subject to study but a complex one to teach. Yuri Balasanov handles both ends of that spectrum.  

As the managing director of quantitative research and risk management at Sachs Capital Group LP, Balasanov is responsible for building machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) systems that generate investment signals. As the founder of iLykei Teaching Tech Corp., he also builds and maintains a knowledge base for ML and AI that can be applied for analytical use and leveraged for teaching and consulting opportunities.

Balasanov will rely on his industry knowledge and professional experience in a new way beginning in January 2022 when he teaches Managerial Analytics to students in Northwestern Engineering's Master of Engineering Management (MEM) program. Throughout the course he will explain advancements and changes related to analytics, as well as demonstrate how data is used for organizations, what can be predicted using statistics, and the impact data and information can have on a business.

“Managerial Analytics is about making management decisions under uncertainty, building systems in which decisions are made by algorithms," Balasanov said.

Uncertainty is also one of the challenges that comes with teaching an evolving topic like analytics because of the fluidity within the field, particularly in regards to future advances. 

"The transforming effect of machine learning and artificial intelligence on our life in the next five to 10 years is beyond human cognitive ability, beyond our wildest imagination," he said. "There have been very few periods in human history with a comparable pace of change." 

MEM is new for Balasanov, but teaching isn't. He's always viewed helping others as a way to give back and as the ultimate reward for his own hard work. He works to connect topics of interest today with historic events and famous figures from the world of probability and statistics. Throughout his career, he's never had two classes go the exact same way because he relies on his students to help steer in-class discussions.

“My lectures are always an experiment and a live process in which students play a very active role,” Balasanov said. “I don’t mind being interrupted by questions that help me adjust the pace and points of concentration of the curriculum.” 

His curriculum has had to evolve to reflect the rapid evolution of the analytics field. Previous state-of-the-art methods become outdated and replaced with new approaches every two-to-three years. The pace may be a challenge, but it's one Balasanov embraces. He hopes his students will embrace it as well. 

"Modern Analytics is a monster consuming exponentially growing amounts of data," Balasanov said. "We will have to transform our industries and our minds, and face the challenge of feeding this monster with the data.

"I hope students get a new view on the world changing around them and confidence that they are ready for the change."

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