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What do mixed martial arts and business analytics have in common?


Kaizer Rodrigues is passionate about martial arts. He enjoys the physicality, focus and presence it demands, and sees its wisdom and applicability everywhere he looks.

“Martial arts are a lot about problem-solving – you see your opponent as a problem and you have to develop a strategy to tackle that problem by understanding their nature,” Kaizer says.

“I see everything in that light – I am drawn to problem-solving and I use that lens in my approach to many things.”

It is not surprising then that Kaizer chose to major in Business Analytics – something uniquely focused on solving problems and finding solutions through highly refined data analysis.

“If you enjoy problem solving, like I do, then data is appealing – because data is good for understanding anything deeply, and for finding creative ways to solve any problems.”

“As with mixed martial arts, to solve data problems you can’t always rely on one style. You need to use a combination – so for mixed martial arts you have the core values of attack and defence, and for data you need to use different statistical measures depending on what you are trying to extract from it.”

Kaizer says his interest in computers was initially outside the lecture theatre – just through mucking about on his own.

“I was good at maths at school, and just found myself naturally finding out as much as I could about computers and what they can do. The closest thing to computer science in my degree is Business Analytics, so doing a major in it was an obvious choice.”

Just as martial arts opponents try to read each other, business analysts are all about “reading data” and extracting what is needed in order to answer a question or solve a problem, Kaizer says.

“In business analytics, whether you are measuring populations or conducting market research on customer satisfaction, there is a common process: it is about looking at the numbers, putting them through a machine of sorts, and then using the results to tell a story.”

Kaizer says his interests could take him in various directions, but a data analysis role at a major corporation would be a good way to launch his career post-graduation.

Eventually he can imagine working for himself, advising and consulting with organisations about managing and understanding data, and using it to make rational and good decisions.

Of course, Kaizer is the first to admit that a rational solution to a problem does not necessarily mean it is the right one, from a social, ethical or political perspective.

“Throughout history, humans have had good and bad responses to everything. Computers only do what we ask them to, and culture can and will change the technology – so how corporations and government use data in the future will depend on what society wants. So, we have to be conscious of what we are wanting (and getting!)”

As part of his Business Analytics major Kaizer is participating in a unit where he and fellow students work on a real, ‘live’ information systems project for a client.

“This is one of the aspects of Deakin and the course I’ve appreciated most: the learning is very practical and hands-on. The theory is interesting, but you learn most by doing it and working on real problems.”

A bit like martial arts then?

Deakin University now offers a double degree ideally suited to students interested in a career in data and business analysis: Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Business Analytics