Even before coming to Booth to earn a joint degree in computer science and business, Andrew Schwartz, MBA ’18, MPCS ’18, had begun building an impressive resume. He earned a BS in electrical engineering from UCLA and spent several years in hardware engineering at TV streaming company Roku. While working at the Los Gatos, California-based company, he became interested in bigger strategic questions around product management.
His curiosity—as well as his desire to gain the critical business and computer science skills required for higher-level, technology decision-making—led Schwartz to the joint MBA/MPCS Program at the University of Chicago. “Booth is known for entrepreneurship, and there is a big alumni community in Silicon Valley,” Schwartz said. “I knew that when I came back to the Bay Area after graduation, Booth would have brand recognition.”
Schwartz has now returned to the West Coast and accepted a job at Google as a product manager, where he uses machine learning and artificial intelligence and works on the company’s cloud platform. He shared insights on how Booth’s analytical, multidisciplinary approach to marketing helps him excel at one of the world’s top technology companies.
Booth: Why did you decide to leave Roku to earn an MBA from Booth and an MS in Computer Science?
Schwartz: In my role, I wasn’t part of the decision-making process. I was the one to implement decisions into the design of a product. I found myself being curious about questions such as, “Why would the customer need this?” and “How would we price this product?” I wanted to pursue a role that had business impact on a large scale. That led me to product management.
Booth: How did the marketing courses you took at Booth make an impact on your thinking?
Schwartz: The Marketing Strategy class gave me concepts that are ingrained in my approach to problems now. The class was very collaborative. On the final exam, we came up with a new product idea for an existing company, which tied together everything we learned in the class.
I’ve adapted those underlying concepts to my day-to-day job. As a product manager, you're assessing the needs of customers, figuring out who those customers are, asking how we can release features to fulfill their needs. The Marketing Strategy class helped me ask and address the questions that are necessary to break down a problem into smaller issues or ways of tackling it. That's important.
I also love working with data. Data-Driven Marketing fed my analytical side and is a course I will continue to reference as I move forward in my product management career. The data courses at Booth were as heavy on the analytics side as the computer science courses I took as part of my joint degree—if not more so.
Booth: Why do you find those marketing skills so relevant to your role in product management and to working in technology in general?
Schwartz: Whether you work in the tech industry, CPG, or even financial management, you’re going to work for a business that has customers. You have to understand what your customers need and how you can address those needs, whether it’s creating products for them or even conveying the value of a product after it’s been built.
If you understand how to tackle problems from an analytical perspective, using The Chicago Approach to marketing helps you do your job better—no matter what your role is.
—By Melissa Brooks
August 28, 2018