Alisha Marfatia: Storytelling by the Numbers

Professional Certificate, Strategic Decision and Risk Management

She looks at data the way a detective examines a crime scene—figuring out what happened and the story that can be told from it. She's a data-driven decision maker who's making meaningful contributions to her career and company.




What initially interested you in pursuing the Strategic Decision and Risk Management professional certificate?

I love data. I love numbers. I love analyzing all of it and seeing what’s working and what’s not, and how to move forward. Two years ago, I was working in a fast and intense startup environment. There wasn’t a lot of time to slow down and hone my skills in data science.

Wanting to become an expert in what I was passionate about, while still maintaining my career, I started searching online for classes in data analysis, risk management and strategy. Stanford’s program had exactly what I was looking for and getting started was quick and easy.

How has the Strategic Decision and Risk Management program helped you in your current job?

I work at a peer-to-peer marketplace for selling women’s clothing, shoes and accessories. We track a lot of data about our customers–every visit, what they do, what results and what’s successful or not. When I started, my first assignment was to forecast the potential risks and rewards of various projects we were considering to improve new customer acquisition.

Taking courses online, I was able to directly apply what I learned in my work. From small things, like learning how to format an excel spreadsheet, to big things, like how to think about a problem, I used tools and concepts from my courses, specifically Modeling for Strategic Insight, to make an impact in my new role.

What was your favorite course?

Converting Strategy into Action – I do a lot of analysis and there’s always a struggle to turn it into something concrete. This course covered how to navigate political waters and align your objectives with the organization's to gain buy-in and support. Since I'm making recommendations on the front-end of most initiatives, being able to communicate my insights effectively and get a plan executed is incredibly valuable.

What has been the most interesting part of earning your certificate?

Living in the Bay Area, I had the opportunity to take classes at Stanford but didn’t feel the need. I did everything related to the program entirely online and had a great experience. The application process was seamless and I was able to start my courses shortly thereafter. Through the video lectures, I felt I was getting an equivalent learning experience to being on campus. I worked at my own pace, completing the certificate within two years.

What advice would you give current participants to help them succeed in the program?

Once you complete the required courses, Decision Analysis and Decision Quality, start your electives right away. You’ll learn foundational concepts from these requirements that are reiterated throughout your electives; it’s helpful to have them fresh in your memory.