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Volume 20 No. 45
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‘Analytics is not just about big data mining’

Christian Lowe
Director of business analytics, Miami Marlins

Christian Lowe was always interested in sports, but as a guy who loves, loves, loves numbers, baseball, with its tonnage of statistics, was the obvious choice.

But it was a winding basepath to South Florida, where he is two months into his job as director of business analytics at the Miami Marlins.

Armed with a degree in international political economy, Lowe was living in San Francisco and working for Sterling Stamos, a hedge fund formed by New York Mets co-owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz and MLB’s investment advisory board chairman Peter Stamos.

But in 2007, after the fund took a hit due to its investments with Bernie Madoff, Lowe started looking for opportunities outside the world of finance.

“I was not confident in the global economy,” he said. “The logical choices seemed to be to get a law degree or MBA. But I just kept thinking ‘there has to be something else.’”

As the economic markets receded, he spent three years as an analyst for Biocodex, a pharmaceutical company. During that time, he began monitoring Facebook and Google and wondered why those companies were so intent on collecting data, and how they were using it.

In 2011, the Chevy Chase, Md.-native enrolled at Northwestern University’s new master of science in predictive analytics program and quickly decided that he could strengthen his thesis if he had a business degree. So he put his Northwestern degree on the back burner, and while working stints at SiriusXM, Saks Fifth Avenue and Zimmerman Advertising, he received his MBA from Columbia University in 2015. This summer he plans to earn his M.S. from Northwestern by submitting a model of how to predict the likelihood of a baseball player not only producing on the field, but actually completing a long-term contract.

Which means that his work life and student life have similarities.

“Analytics is not just about big data mining,” he said. “It’s about being able to uncover underlying trends to identify patterns and being able to provide digestible reports to people who don’t spend their lives reading numbers. The key is to be able to provide different tailored messaging based on the data.”

— David Broughton