analytics, culture, and relentless pursuit of excellence ~ Rhea Girish Koli

May 28, 2024 | Company News | 0 comments



At Circle Optics, our team comprises deeply curious individuals dedicated to creating immersive experiences in aerospace, robotics, and entertainment. We are pleased to introduce Rhea Girish Koli, our new Strategic Business Analyst Intern from the University of Rochester's Simon Business School, where she is pursuing her MS in Business Analytics (MSBA).

At Circle Optics, we are an eclectic group of deeply curious individuals committed to making a difference through immersive experiences in aerospace, robotics, and entertainment. Meet Rhea Girish Koli, our Strategic Business Analyst Intern. Koli joins us from the University of Rochester’s Simon Business School, where she is earning her MS in Business Analytics (MSBA). 

Chief Operating Officer, Ian Gauger says, “We are excited to have a graduate of the Simon School of Business join us. Rhea brings a unique skillset to the company and we hope to get a lot out of her time with us this summer.” 

We had the opportunity to hear from Rhea about her reasons for joining Circle Optics and her aspirations for her internship. 

The journey from Muscat to pursuing a career in business analytics  

I completed my education up to the 12th grade in Muscat, where my parents, both finance professionals, encouraged me to follow a similar path. This led me to India, where I took intensive finance courses. During a project, a CFO subtly introduced me to business analytics through various Excel tasks, which sparked my interest. After researching and taking basic courses on Coursera, I found the field both challenging and exciting. To build a solid foundation, I took courses from IIT Delhi and IIM Rohtak, premier institutions in India. IIT focused on the technical side, while IIM emphasized business, providing me with a comprehensive understanding. My curiosity and the potential I saw in business analytics inspired me to transition from finance to this dynamic field. With a solid base in finance, I was ready to explore new opportunities and take risks. Now, I’m thrilled to be here and look forward to contributing to the team. 

From a solid base in finance to the field of business analytics 

At my previous institute, my mentor made me realize I had a knack for tasks typically handled by managers with five to six years of experience. This realization ignited my passion for Excel, a passion I know Ian shares as well. Intrigued, I decided to dive deep into business analytics. I found finance, especially auditing and taxation, to be somewhat one-dimensional and repetitive over time. In contrast, business analytics offers a variety of projects, each presenting new challenges and opportunities to learn about different industries and fields. This constant learning and the dynamic nature of business analytics align perfectly with my hunger for knowledge. I thrive on tackling new challenges and tend to slump when faced with repetitive tasks. Transitioning to business analytics felt like the best of both worlds, allowing me to build on my solid finance foundation while expanding my knowledge. Additionally, I enjoy client-facing roles where I can present, communicate insights, and engage in meaningful dialogue. In finance, these opportunities are limited, but in business analytics, I can leverage my strengths in client interaction, making it a perfect fit for me. 

Key lessons defining my work 

Throughout my experiences, I’ve learned several key lessons. First, attention to detail is crucial, especially when conducting audits where we are held accountable for the company’s compliance with standards. This responsibility taught me the importance of being meticulous. Second, making sense of seemingly nonsensical data is essential. Often, we encounter large dumps of data and must find a starting point, breaking it down into smaller subsets to uncover meaningful insights. Asking questions is vital because it’s impossible to know everything upfront. Additionally, seeing beyond the data to understand the underlying reasons is important. For instance, during audits, managers often instruct us to check for matches or discrepancies, but my curiosity drove me to ask why discrepancies existed. With my last client, DHL this approach led me to uncover a miscommunication issue within the India operations, providing valuable insights. 

These lessons have been reinforced through various projects, such as predicting market trends for the government of Thailand and working with clients in the education industry. These experiences have honed my skills in data analysis, critical thinking, and effective communication, all of which are vital in business analytics.

Insights from previous projects  

In one of my most rewarding projects, I coordinated with teams in Singapore and Thailand. The Thailand government had outsourced their work to a Singaporean company we were collaborating with. It was fascinating to work with multinational teams, as I got to experience different work cultures and ethics. For the first time, I was involved from the very beginning of a project. We received the dataset, understood their concerns, and started from scratch. This allowed me to learn the entire funnel process: obtaining the data, cleaning it, analyzing it, making errors, adjusting methods, and eventually reaching conclusions. 

In this project, we focused on predictive analytics to forecast Thailand’s oil requirements, aiding their decisions on import and export needs for the following year. This project carried significant national implications, teaching me the importance of precision and responsibility. After extensive coding and coordination, we provided a baseline for managing their foreign currency reserves and overall financial planning. 

Another insightful experience was in the education industry, where I worked with a company providing various courses, including MBAs and bachelor’s degrees. This project involved three different types of institutes spread across India, each with unique cultural and regional differences. The south of India is highly focused on education, while the north leans more towards business and entrepreneurship. This disparity required distinct marketing and financial strategies for each region. I learned that financial statements, though similar on the surface, have different implications depending on the region. Understanding these nuances was crucial in interpreting the numbers accurately. Each project taught me the importance of attention to detail, critical thinking, and effective communication, all essential skills in business analytics. 

Culture Is Important to Me

I’m a classically trained singer. We have two different types of music in India, Hindustani music and Carnatic music. I’ve trained for the last six years in Carnatic music, so I’m a pretty decent singer, I would like to say. I definitely sing for my family and friends, and they all love my voice. It’s more of something that I just keep for myself. Additionally, I’ve learned ballet for six or seven years during schooling, and now I’m also doing Odissi, a classical Indian dance form from Odisha. I’ve been working hard to keep up with dance while I’m here because my teacher’s in India and She gets up at 5:30 AM to teach me because that’s the only way our times align. I’m really happy that she does. I’ve also travelled to around 23 countries and had the opportunity to learn more about their culture as well. Being engaged in these cultural practices helps me stay connected to my roots and brings a sense of fulfillment to my life. 

What I hope to contribute to Circle Optics  

During my time working with companies in Rochester, I had my first experience in marketing. Initially, I had no knowledge in this area, but it turned out to be quite enjoyable. I was involved in website optimization, marketing strategies, cold calling, and understanding other businesses to help with logistics. This experience broadened my perspective on helping a business in its entirety, moving beyond just the finance aspect. 

The marketing skills I acquired will definitely translate well to my role at Circle Optics. I learned the importance of clear communication with clients, as misunderstandings can lead to significant issues. Ensuring clarity and confirming details during calls, often with examples, is crucial to prevent misinterpretation. 

To keep my finance skills sharp, I took additional finance courses, which will also be beneficial at Circle Optics. Additionally, I explored electives in global supply chain management, driven by my interest in logistics. While I’m unsure how directly this will apply, I know that understanding logistics will be valuable, especially with the introduction of new products and ensuring they reach consumers effectively.

What I hope to gain as an intern 

What excites me the most about this opportunity at Circle Optics is that I get to work in three different fields simultaneously: strategy, marketing, and finance. I love being diversified in my work, and in an industry where many of my peers are focused on specialized roles, I feel privileged to engage in multiple areas at once. This variety keeps my work dynamic and fulfilling. 

In terms of my goals, the most important one is to absorb everything about the work culture at Circle Optics, as this is my first job in the United States. I want to learn about the people, the processes, and the unique aspects of working here. Having previously worked in other countries, I’m eager to see how the U.S. differs and to gain valuable real-world skills that I can carry forward to future roles. 

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