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Company run by alums creates UD data scholarship

Charles Megginson Business, Education, Headlines

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Predictive Analytics Group founders and University of Delaware Alumni have started a $50,000 endowed scholarship. Left to right: CEO Stephen Hoops, managing partner of U.S. operations David LaRoche, chief data and analytics officer Dee Ridgeway

A Newark company founded by three University of Delaware alumni has created an endowed scholarship for current students. 

Predictive Analytics Group, a data analytics company that employs 25 people from its offices on the University of Delaware’s Science, Technology and Advanced Research — or STAR Campus — has committed $50,000 toward a scholarship for students in the university’s new business analytics department.

Forty percent of Predictive Analytics Group’s employees are University of Delaware alumni.

One student per year will receive the scholarship, which is expected to be worth about $2,500 per semester. 

The company has sponsored one-time $5,000 scholarships for the past three years but decided to step up their support after “a very, very successful 2021,” said Stephen Hoops, CEO of Predictive Analytics Group and a 1998 graduate of University of Delaware’s Business and Economics school.

“We grew by more than 100 percent in 2021 and more than doubled our business,” Hoops said. “So it really became a question of — how can we give back even more to the University of Delaware?” 

According to Investopedia, data analytics is the science of analyzing raw data to make conclusions about that information.

“As the use of data analytics expands, many executives are challenged to consolidate data from multiple legacy systems, develop in-house advanced analytics experience, and control access to specific reports across the enterprise,” Predictive Analytics Group explained in a press release announcing their scholarship.

“In many cases, they need advanced analytic support but either can’t afford them on a full-time basis or don’t know where to find them and train them.”

That’s where Predictive Analytics Group comes in.

By analyzing information from clients, Hoops explained, “We’re able to help them leverage their data, take a look at their past performance and tell them where they made mistakes or where they went the right way to help them optimize their strategies and their engagement with their customers.”

Ultimately, it’s a way to help organizations understand their data better to make their businesses more efficient and profitable.

The industry is expected to boom during the next decade. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the data analytics field will likely grow by up to 35 percent between 2019 and 2029.

Hoops believes that’s a modest estimate.

“I think it’ll be a lot bigger than that, quite frankly, over the next eight to 10 years,” he said. “We started out just really supporting financial services and today we work with sports teams, casinos, sports betting platforms, the healthcare industry, hospitals and marketing agencies. Everyone likes to use their own data — even small businesses.”

Students who benefit from the scholarship won’t be required to work or intern for Predictive Analytics Group.

Instead, Hoops explained, the scholarship is simply meant to help students who match the profile of the founders when they were students.

Hoops, for example, originally came to University of Delaware on an athletics scholarship. But when an injury abruptly changed his plans, he found himself changing majors and working at MBNA America full-time in order to graduate.

 “Working full-time while I was in school made me who I am today, but it’s not something I would wish on today’s students,” Hoops said. “I’d rather students have the ability to concentrate on their school experience and it not be a secondary aspect of their life, which it was for me.”

Scholarship recipients will have to demonstrate financial need, maintain at least a 3.0-grade point average, be from Delaware or Pennsylvania (where Predictive Analytics Group’s founders are from) and, of course, be students in the data analytics discipline. 

David LaRoche, managing partner of Predictive’s U.S. operations and 1998 Business and Economics graduate,  said it can be tough for organizations to onboard and train new hires at once. By helping students early in their careers, they can hopefully graduate with a foundation of skills that benefit them and make them attractive to future employers.

And while students who receive the scholarship have no obligation to work with Predictive Analytics Group after graduation, LaRoche “won’t deny that the scholarship-application process is a great way to meet top candidates,” he said. 

For Predictive’s chief data and analytics officer, Dee Ridgeway, interacting with current Blue Hens is a chance to tap into fresh talent. Students may stay with the company for several years, so Ridgeway and his colleagues get to witness students come into their own as they grow from undergraduates to young professionals.

“Our interns are home-grown, but they have their own backgrounds and experiences, so we get insights that are different from when we were at University of Delaware in the late ’90s and early 2000s,” Ridgeway said.

Hoops said data analytics students and recent graduates who work with Predictive Analytics Group are always eager to learn.

“They want to understand your experiences and there is nothing more rewarding than being able to relay those experiences and offer them meaningful advice that will help shape their own careers,” he said.

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