Liette Ocker

Associate Professor, 
Sam Houston State University

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your professional background.

I have been a university professor for over 15 years, teaching statistics and research to undergraduate and graduate students. I am also a breast cancer survivor. Going through this life-changing event encouraged me to make some positive life improvements—which led me to make a career pivot from academia to business, ultimately seeking the Harvard Business Analytics Program to help bridge that gap.

What made you decide to choose the Harvard Business Analytics Program? How do you feel this program is different from other, similar programs?

The Harvard Business Analytics Program was instrumental in providing the knowledge, skills, and tools necessary to transition my academic background to an applied business analytics career. I believe the single most important attribute of the program is that it offers business analytics training from three separate schools: Harvard School of Business, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the Department of Statistics.

Another important point to mention is that I chose this program because I am a college professor and know the limitations of an online-only program. The Harvard Business Analytics Program allows the flexibility to complete your coursework individually, while also including a face-to-face component.

In fact, I personally spend more time interacting with my classmates in this hybrid program than my face-to-face students do in a 3-credit-hour classroom environment.

How has what you’ve learned in the program impacted the work you are currently doing?

I am actively seeking a new job and the courses, professors, and cohort have played a huge part in that endeavor. The lessons are exceptional. Nearly every time I sit down and work on my readings, lectures, class meetings, and group work I leave with a sense of accomplishment and feeling of success. I have no idea how they do it, but the faculty has pulled off the remarkable! All the sessions are interwoven beautifully and greatly relevant to today’s digital society.

How will what you’ve learned make you a leader in your industry? OR How has it made you a better leader in your industry?

As the courses progressed, the Leadership, Innovation, and Change course taught me so much about the importance of being a disruptor and how those skills can make or break an industry.

What has been your experience collaborating with classmates in an online environment?

The collaboration experience has been dynamic, organic, and easy. Not only do we collaborate within the synchronous courses, but we collaborate outside of coursework. Several of us are working on or helping each other with business use cases. We are constantly interacting through Slack and when the conversation exceeds a chat environment we will jump on Zoom and finish our collaborations. We even have a “come and go” virtual happy hour via Zoom every Friday evening where we grab a beverage of choice and talk about anything and everything. We interact so much as a group, that when we saw each other for the first time in person we greeted one another like old friends.

Is there a particular moment—either part of a course, with a professor, or with a peer—that stands out to you as particularly influential?

I have had “ah ha” moments in every course and sometimes several in a short time period. However, for me, as a woman, one of the most influential components of this program was learning from and getting to know Margo Seltzer. She exemplifies a woman of the digital age. Margo is intelligent, but not aloof, assertive, but not aggressive, confident, but not uppity, all while embracing her role as a female and mother. I can only imagine how difficult it was to choose a career in a male-dominated industry and not just survive but thrive. Marge inspired me to be a strong female role model and pursue the career I deserve.

What advice do you have for others considering this program?


Do it! The coursework and professors are world-class and will teach you more than you ever thought possible. The integration of three renowned Harvard schools creates a learning matrix that I have never seen in academia. Finally, the Harvard brand and the exceptional networking from your peers makes this program invaluable.

Tell us about your experience at the immersion.

The immersion experience was magical! It was interesting that we could check in between 5:00 to 7:00—but everyone was there by 5:00 or even before because we were all excited to meet in person.

How did the immersion fit with your professional and personal schedule?

Going to the immersion was absolutely no problem with my schedule since we were provided the dates from the beginning. In fact, professionally I had colleagues texting me the whole time asking about it. Everyone was excited that I was actually studying on the Harvard campus.