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Broadening Horizons With the Master of Management, Risk and Analytics Program

By Samantha Beavers

During Covid lockdowns, when many were picking up new hobbies like gardening and baking sourdough, Nhung Truong was learning to solder mechanical switches onto printed circuit boards to make custom keyboards for friends and family. For her, it’s one example of many that demonstrates her long-held passion for continuous learning. It’s a passion that’s followed her into her professional life, too – like when she learned HTML and CSS to code a new landing page, or when she decided to apply to the Master of Management, Risk and Analytics (MRA) program at NC State.

In her role as a business analyst at LPL Financial, Truong develops reports and automates dashboards to drive efficiency across the business transitions team – providing meaningful data to help the team onboard new advisors and make strategic decisions. 

“I’ve always been intrigued by data because it can be used to find answers to just about any question that arises. Throughout my career, I’ve been surrounded by data and I’ve found that working with it is similar to playing detective – but with numbers. I like that I am able to tell stories and predict patterns or trends with the data I’ve collected,” she says.

What was missing, though, was a foundation in risk management that would broaden her perspective.

“Throughout my career in the financial industry, I’ve felt limited by my ability to see only one piece of the pie. I have always wondered what the decision-making process is like for leaders and what factors they consider when taking on risks in the company,” Truong says. “So, I wanted to be in a setting where I could see business problems from a more holistic view and learn what actions to take to resolve those issues.”

She began to explore different graduate programs that would help advance her career and discovered the new MRA program at Poole College of Management. She realized it aligned closely with her professional goals – so she decided to go for it. Plus, she says, NC State has always been one of her dream schools. 

Since joining the MRA program, the ability to elevate and add more value to her analytics skills has been something that she’s found particularly beneficial.

“Through what I’ve learned in the enterprise risk management course, I am now able to make the connection between the metrics I provide and the potential risks that the business is trying to prevent. One of our company’s values is ‘Stop and consider the big picture,’ so if we want to achieve our business goals, we need to understand potential risks that could affect our clients and employees as a whole,” she says.

Similarly, Truong has benefited from the opportunity to work alongside other working professionals in her cohort and get to know students in other graduate programs at Poole College. 

“I really appreciate the fact that I get to network with people from different backgrounds and specifically those outside the financial industry. I’ve been able to gain new knowledge and see things from a different perspective,” she says. “I also know that building strong relationships and learning from others will play a big role in helping me progress in my career. In particular, it will help me become a more effective communicator, which will strengthen my engagement with stakeholders and help projects run more smoothly and efficiently.”

Looking forward, she has a lot of other goals in front of her, too – like taking on more responsibility to advance in her field and continuing to supplement her current skill sets with new ones in order to stay competitive. Perhaps the biggest thing that drives her, though, is paving the way and setting a good example for her younger siblings.

She reflects on her experience growing up in Hickory, N.C. and navigating through life’s challenges as the oldest child in a family of immigrants from Vietnam. Decisions and milestones that are difficult for many – like getting accepted into college and choosing a major  – felt even more challenging for Truong as a first-generation college student and as a role model to two younger siblings.

Wanting to take the right steps down the path to success, she initially declared a major in biology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The further she got into the program, however, the more she realized she didn’t have an interest in it. Wanting to balance her desire to succeed with her desire to pursue her passions, she spent a lot of time thinking and researching – and ultimately decided to take the risk and switch to business.

It was there that she had the opportunity to concentrate in business intelligence and analytics – a field that, as it turns out, now grows faster than most. It was a personal example of what Truong now learns every day in the classroom. Some risks are worth embracing – because they just might provide a competitive advantage.

Looking ahead, then, Truong plans to leverage all of these skill sets and opportunities to achieve as much as she possibly can – knowing that her younger siblings are looking up to her.

“I want them to have the foundation that I never had, and a path to be successful to do whatever they want to in the future.”