Nationwide ExecEd Analytics

When the idea to offer a customized course focused on data and analytics at Nationwide popped up on Jodi Abbate’s radar, she had two questions: did Nationwide associates want such a course and, if so, who could deliver one?

Abbate, vice president of financial reporting and accounting policy and research, turned to some familiar faces at Fisher College of Business. Working with Fisher’s Executive Education team, Nationwide created the Analytics in Action Seminar Series, a year-long, custom data and analytics workshop that wraps up in November.

“When I saw the response to the first few sessions — we had an auditorium here at Nationwide filled with associates — it was clear this program had piqued associates’ curiosity and was fulfilling a desire to learn more about data and analytics,” said Abbate (BSBA ’02). “That data and analytics skill set is a huge necessity for organizations, and it’s a topic that many finance and accounting professionals want to learn more about, but are not quite sure how to get started.”

“This program helped our associates begin the journey to upskill their data and analytic capabilities.”

The monthly workshop, held at Nationwide, connects associates in Nationwide’s insurance and financial services areas with faculty thought leaders from Fisher. The two-hour sessions provided insights into data- and analytics-specific areas including critical thinking, modeling and data visualization.

“The participating professors are producing the theoretical research, teaching these topics to their students, and have seen the application of this research,” Abbate said. “The information was delivered in a way that associates could understand, even if they only have a broad awareness of the topic.  Of course, the professors were also able to provide higher-level insights for those with advanced skills.”

Jodi Abbate
Jodi Abbate (BSBA '02)

“Leveraging the expertise from Fisher, which is right down the street from Nationwide, allowed for the content to be delivered in-person, which is a much different experience than online programming.”

In all, the sessions have drawn more than 600 attendees at Nationwide. Many of the participants are team leaders, Abbate said, who are eager to share these new insights with their colleagues.

“The associates were excited about the topics, and after the sessions, you could see the excitement and buzz among the attendees,” she said. “Leaders are taking these lessons back to their teams, and we’re seeing these insights being tested and applied, which is really exciting.”

For Ralph Greco, a senior lecturer in Fisher’s Department of Management Sciences, building the Analytics in Action framework helped intersect the study of analytics with the practice of applying it.

“Analytics are everywhere,” he said. “We’re trying to drive others to understand this and to push their colleagues to learn more about data and analytics, because at some point, these skills will be expected of the work force.”

"Upskill, change and evolve"

The Analytics in Action program granted Nationwide’s finance organization with a way to provide a flexible, continuous education offering to associates interested in data and analytics. Not as intensive as a post-graduate degree program, the program found a sweet spot for many associates who wanted to gain insights to utilize in their careers.

“A lot of working adults want to upskill, change and evolve, but going back to school full-time for a certificate or degree program doesn’t fit into their schedule,” Abbate said. “The goal for this program was to provide the associates with the information they need to begin to think about their work differently.”

“I appreciated working with the professors at Fisher, as their focus is on education and the mutual benefits to be gained from thought leadership application in the workforce.”

Plans to enhance the program for 2020 are underway, with Nationwide and Fisher evaluating how best to deliver the latest and most impactful insights for the insurance giant.

“Data and analytics are something companies need to get started on now, if they haven’t already,” Abbate said. “Creating something from scratch is a much bigger time investment than leveraging the expertise of a large university like Ohio State. Time is critical as developments in technology and advancement in analytics are occurring so rapidly.”

“Utilizing Fisher provides us with insights that resonate with our associates. Fisher’s faculty are able to teach these complicated concepts in ways that make an impact for the associate, and the faculty are highly skilled at making the theory behind the topics come to life through real-world application.”

“Leveraging the expertise from Fisher, which is right down the street from Nationwide, allowed for the content to be delivered in-person, which is a much different experience than online programming.”

Jodi Abbate (BSBA '02)VP of Financial Reporting and Accounting Policy and Research,