Innovation Scholars Program team.
Xavier Conzet (back row, right) with his Innovation Scholars Program team.

From Aspiring Lawyer to Data Storyteller

Finding the right career path is rarely linear. As a college student, Xavier Conzet initially considered pursuing a law career, intrigued by its focus on research and evidence-based arguments. But after discovering that the appeal that drew him to law was also present in analytics, he shifted his focus.

“I was doing a lot of soul-searching about aligning my true interests and career goals at the time,” Conzet said. “The idea of diving into data for projects and persuading others with my findings was really exciting, which is what led me to explore analytics and pursue a master’s degree.”

Conzet chose the University of St. Thomas for its strong reputation in academic excellence and expertise in data-related fields. The fact that many people he personally knew were also choosing St. Thomas for these programs gave his reason to attend even more weight.

Enrolling in the MS in Business Analytics program at the Opus College of Business part time allowed Conzet to apply his learning in real time and gradually pivot his career toward analytics. Every 18 months or so, he transitioned to a more technical role in his career, blending his work experience with what he was learning in class.

Since enrolling four years ago, Conzet has made significant leaps in his career, launched a successful business, and recently became one of only two non-MBA students at St. Thomas ever to participate in the nationally recognized Innovation Scholars Program. Now, a few days away from graduating, he’s looking forward to the next chapter in work and life.

Balancing technical expertise and soft skills

When Conzet began taking courses at Opus College, he was working as an analyst at Wells Fargo, eager to grow his career. His top focus at the time was acquiring in-demand technical skills, but his mindset began to shift when he saw the value of the communication skills he was also gaining.

“Being an analyst isn’t just about crunching numbers,” he explained. “It’s about telling a compelling story with that data, a skill so often overlooked in technical domains.”

The Data Narratives course with Professor John Olson was particularly impactful, introducing a new way of presenting data that was both engaging and insightful. In the course, he learned how to create impactful visualizations, compelling dashboards, and how to be a data storyteller.

John Olson headshot.
Professor John Olson
Jeff Diedrich at Davidbankstudios

Conzet used these skills to advance his career twice before he even graduated. Halfway through the program, he transitioned from banking to a specialized role in supply analytics. He presented his dashboards during a job interview, leading to an offer to oversee inventory analysis for a vendor account valued at $130 million to $150 million annually at Medline Industries.

This opportunity allowed Conzet to sharpen his analytical skills on projects for high-profile clients like Mayo Clinic. He played a key role in the account’s implementation and spearheaded their KPI dashboard for executive presentations. He was also selected to serve on the company’s analytics advisory review board for the first time in his career, an experience he calls “incredible.”

Near the end of the program, Conzet made another big career jump when he joined Optum as a data analyst. Networking with a fellow student and senior manager of data and analytics at the company during his global supply chain course led to the exciting opportunity, where he now supports a $55 billion contract for the Veteran Affairs VA Community Care Network team.

Working at a leading health care analytics company, Conzet recognizes the importance of staying current with changing technology and industry trends. “Opus College has done a great job preparing us for challenges in the real world, especially in the evolving areas of AI, machine learning and big data,” he said. “The faculty teaching the courses aren’t just educators; they’re industry experts and thought leaders actively contributing to ongoing discussions on important topics today.”

Opus College has done a great job preparing us for challenges in the real world, especially in the evolving areas of AI, machine learning and big data.”

Xavier Conzet

Looking ahead and giving back

As Conzet nears the end of his journey at Opus College, he’s grateful for everything in the program that’s helped him to step into his own as a mentor, entrepreneur, and an analytics consultant.

One standout experience was leading a team of undergraduate students in the Innovation Scholars program for his final capstone project. Collaborating with a medical start-up using AI technology to address gaps in the public health system, the experience allowed Conzet to "pour my heart into a project that's changing the game, while at the same time, having the incredible opportunity to watch each team member bloom." He was also able to develop hands-on leadership and mentoring skills by providing targeted feedback to the students over several months.

As for what’s next, Conzet looks forward to growing his private real estate investment business, leveraging the analytical skills from his studies. He’s also taken up mentoring undergraduate students interested in pursuing a career in analytics, and even returned to one of his favorite classes, Data Narratives, as a guest speaker this spring. “It’s a neat example of how committed our faculty are to helping us grow, and it’s a perfect chance for me to get more comfortable speaking in public, which is going to be super important down the road,” he said about the opportunity.

Reflecting on his experiences at St. Thomas, Conzet says it’s been “nothing short of transformative” for his professional career. “I went from being a mortgage closer with no background in analytics to becoming an analytics consultant at a premier company,” he said. “If you’re looking to make a career shift or grow in the field of business analytics, Opus will help keep you ahead of the curve in every possible way. I’d recommend this program to anyone.”