Kayako Yamakoshi

Class Year: 
Job Title / Company: 
Business Operations Analyst / VMware
  • Duke MEM Elective Track: Data Analytics and Machine Learning
  • Previous Education: BS, Computer Science and Business Administration
  • Hometown: Tokyo, Japan

Before coming to Duke

Before coming to Duke, I was pursuing a BS in Computer Science and Business Administration at Trinity University. I knew I wanted to apply my interdisciplinary background, but finding exactly how to do it was challenging as both Computer Science and Business have a wide range of subareas and career paths. Duke MEM was the perfect place to try out different interests and find my passion.

Why I chose Duke’s MEM program

I chose the Master of Engineering Management degree at Duke for its strong community and flexible curriculum. Spending time with peers is one of the best ways to learn, and I realized those relationships are really valuable and go a long way. Duke offers various opportunities to engage and connect with great people even outside the MEM program.

Duke MEM also has a variety of electives and you can tailor your curriculum to build your unique professional brand. One of my interests was Data Science, but I wasn't sure how I want to contribute to the field. Do I want to build a model? Do I want to be a product manager at a data analytics company? Or do I want to leverage data in business strategy development? The courses and professors from Pratt School of Engineering, Fuqua School of Business, and Duke Law were wonderful resources to answer those questions.

My favorite courses

My most favorite core course was EGRMGMT 520—Intellectual Property, Business Law, and Entrepreneurship. The class was very engaging and involved many group discussions. As for the electives, the Big Data and Marketing Analytics courses with Dan Yang were very insightful. Overall, Duke MEM professors are very kind and happy to help students out—ask questions in class/during office hours!

Top places to visit in Durham

Nuvotaco (tasty tacos with the best rice), The Honeysuckle Tea House (not exactly in Durham ... it's in Chapel Hill), and, Umstead State Park (it's in Raleigh.) I highly recommend exploring different trails on a weekend. North Carolina has many beautiful state parks!

Ways I gained leadership experience during my time at Duke

I served as a graduate student representative on the Duke IT Advisory Committee. We improved IT environments at Duke, such as remote learning infrastructures and user-authentification systems. I was also a student ambassador for Duke Engineering's master's programs, and had a great time engaging with admitted and incoming students. During my final semester, I joined the Duke MEM Product Management Club as well, and completed an industry project with SAP.

After Duke MEM 

I joined VMWare as a Business Operations Analyst. My career goal is to become an expert in blending data and managerial mindsets to build actionable business insights.