Making 'Magic' Out of Statistical Modeling

William Chiu was part of the MSiA program’s first cohort in 2012. Now he’s vice president and head of statistical modeling for First Republic Bank.

In late 2012, William Chiu (MSiA ‘13) took a break from his career in the banking industry to hopefully give it a boost.   

He joined the first cohort in Northwestern Engineering's newly created Master of Science in Analytics (MSiA) program. Now, a decade after that break began, he is enjoying the boost he wanted.  

William ChiuChiu is vice president and head of statistical modeling for San Francisco-based First Republic Bank, the 18th-largest bank in the country. He credits the MSiA program with helping him get where he is today.  

“The incorporation of industry experience – the industry practicum, summer internship, and capstone – was the main selling point,” he said. “Industry experience made me a competitive job candidate.”  

Since his time in MSiA, Chiu has witnessed the boom in the banking industry’s use of data to help more accurately forecast the future.  

While he enjoys the science behind building an accurate model, Chiu is always on the lookout for new ways to help the business. 

“I enjoy learning new statistical methods and how they are implemented,” he said. “Being able to find and use an open source package to solve a business problem is like magic to me.”  

Chiu has proven to excel at making that magic for First Republic Bank. He joined the company in late 2014 as a senior quantitative analyst, and subsequently was promoted to manager and then director of quantitative analytics before assuming his current role in 2020. 

Though his time has been heavily invested in the development of models at his bank, Chiu has kept his eye on the development of the MSiA program as well. He's excited to see how the curriculum continues to evolve — such as now incorporating cloud computing and deep learning into required courses — while also maintaining strong industry ties. Because of that, and his own experience, Chiu continues to be a proponent of the program.  

The advice he offers prospective students is similar to what he asked himself a decade ago.  

“When you're considering multiple data science programs," he said, "consider the amount of industry experience that you would develop while enrolled in the program."  

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