Michael Zia


Michael Zia has a passion for math. He’s always loved numbers and seeing how they relate to each other. At CME Group, where he works in the Market Regulation Department as a senior investigator, he receives massive data sets from the internally built tools of the data science division that he combs through in search of suspicious price movements. He searches in particular for indications that the market’s been manipulated or pressured in particular directions. By his own estimate, a third of his time is spent working with numbers, while the rest is spent building reports documenting what he’s found.

It was a no-brainer when a colleague in data science at CME told him about the Graham School’s Master of Science in Analytics (MScA) program. He told him how it would be a great way for Michael to get the skillset he needed to position himself so that the bulk of his workday might be spent in line with his passion for numbers. Excited and ready to apply, he unfortunately discovered that the program’s application deadline was only days away. There was no way he’d be able to gather everything he needed in so short a time. When he called the offices of the Analytics program to see if there was anything he could do, they suggested he explore another program at the Graham School.

“That’s when I first heard about the GSAL [Graduate Student-at-Large] program,” Michael says. “The people in the Analytics program pointed me in that direction and suggested it was a great way to try out the MScA program before going through the application process. They even put me in touch with Esther and Eileen, advisors for the GSAL program, and they were really helpful when it came to guiding me along the way.”

While Michael was excited about returning to school and taking rigorous math courses again, he admits that he was a bit worried all the same. Having been away from the classroom for almost six years, he wondered whether he’d be able to balance the commitment of work with being a student again. Plus, he wasn’t sure how easy it would be to recall the higher-level math he’d studied as an undergraduate earning his degree in economics.

“The GSAL program is particularly valuable in that regard,” Michael says. “I was able to solidify for myself that I’d be able not only to manage being a student again, but even to excel. My math knowledge returned and I even received an A in the Linear Algebra course I took.”

The GSAL program did more than that as well, Michael says. Since Linear Algebra is a prerequisite for an MScA degree, he was able to collaborate with MScA students who were also taking the class, while building rapport with MScA faculty as well. In the end, not only was he able to confirm the usefulness of the program for his career, he was even able to get advice for optimizing his application. It’s all to say that Michael is particularly grateful for the role the GSAL program had in paving the way for his official entrance into the MScA program, which he’s now all set to begin.