For Tanvi Bobde ’17 (M.S. – information systems), an interest in “Game of Thrones” along with an education and skills in data analytics converge in her current role at the Los Angeles offices of HBO. She discusses the responsibilities and activities of her position, what life is like working at the cable TV network, her career goals and the impact of her CSUF Mihaylo College education.

Millions of people enjoy watching the HBO fantasy drama series “Game of Thrones.” But for Mihaylo College alumna Tanvi Bobde ’17, the fantasy drama served as the catalyst for a career opportunity at the Los Angeles offices of the cable television network.

“I’m a huge fan, and after watching the season seven finale episode, I was awestruck. Just out of curiosity, I was going through their audience statistics, with the ability to understand all the terminologies and the analytical breakdown, thanks to the information systems and decision sciences program at Mihaylo,” says Bobde, who earned her M.S. in information systems. “It was interesting to see how the creative environment is constantly changing. It then struck me that I should look up HBO’s career page for any data analytics openings. I wanted to be a small part of the larger whole that entertains the world. I always wanted to work in a creative environment that keeps me on my toes, and the entertainment field was just the right fit.”

While data analytics is a growing field across all industries from health care to government, Bobde notes that the entertainment industry is a significant career path for Southern California professionals with data analytics skills. Business analyst, data analyst, data scientist and business intelligence developer comprise an in-demand professional cast of characters.

“The entertainment industry is awash in data. Backed by competent analytics capabilities, data can be accurately sifted and understood to perk up the media and entertainment industry’s telecast,” says Bobde. “These are hot career options in the market right now and are helping entertainment and media companies unlock hidden insights in their data – from social media listening to predictive models to test advertising, pricing and sales forecasting.”

Tanvi Bobde, CSUF Mihaylo College alumna and HBO data analyst, holding the Emmy award for Outstanding Drama Series, which was bestowed upon Game of Thrones in 2018.

Tanvi Bobde holding the Emmy award for Outstanding Drama Series, which was bestowed upon Game of Thrones.

Life at HBO: Celebrity Sightings and the World of Big Data

Celebrity sightings are a common occurrence for HBO employees, and only a little more than a year on the job, Bobde has already met writer George R.R. Martin, who travels with an entourage of assistants, and “Game of Thrones” stars Kit Harington (Jon Snow) and Nathalie Emmanuel (Missandei).

“The way they look in real life or the way they come in to the office is just like a regular person without any makeup or fancy clothing, so most people don’t even recognize them,” she says. “Employees also have to act very professionally around them, which gets so difficult when I really want to have my fangirl moment!”

With a commitment to work/life balance, HBO is a friendly and diverse work environment. “Every other week, they screen movies and shows by HBO, Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures in the screening room. The employees also get invited for the Emmys after party,” she says.

But being on the HBO payroll isn’t only star-studded fun and games. In her current role, Bobde reports directly to the vice president of HBO Archives, which not only serves as a historical repository of shows but also the basis for data to help the network have the most effective engagement with viewers and partners.

“The focal point of my job is to generate meaningful insights from terabytes of data and come up with optimal solutions for business problems,” she says. “To do this, I partner with various teams internally across HBO and our vendors to understand the current and potential pain points.”

On the day-to-day level, this translates into extracting data from the back end of HBO’s multiple legacy media asset management databases and cleansing, transforming and manipulating raw unstructured data, mostly using SQL, a domain-specific language commonly used to communicate with databases. When data is ready for analysis, Bobde applies forecasting and statistical modeling or data mining techniques to facilitate critical insights and suggestions. She then presents her findings to senior management using dashboards and data visualization.

“When your analysis actually makes sense to the VP and senior management, they listen to you, rely on you for making informed decisions and implement your suggestions,” she says. “This is the most rewarding aspect of my role. You not only see the needle move in front of you, but also play a key role in moving it.”

The biggest challenge for Bobde: reaching out to the company’s many departments to gather essential resources, which has much to do with bridging a gap created by technical jargon. “Not everyone across the company talks the technical language, so they do not necessarily understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing it or understand your urgency,” she says.

CSUF Mihaylo alumna and HBO Data Analyst Tanvi Bobde in the lobby of HBO's Los Angeles offices.

To the Future: Personally and Professionally

Looking ahead to the next three to five years, Bobde aims to become a data analytics and business intelligence subject matter expert, eventually gaining a role in the company’s decision-making body, thus having a more direct impact on the HBO programming that millions of viewers see.

She also will surely stay on top of her favorite shows (“Silicon Valley” and “Insecure” combine with “Game of Thrones” to round out her top three) and relish her contacts with superstars.

“One of my personal goals is to cultivate the habit of yoga and meditation, since it is not only a great way to deal with stress and anxiety but is also an amazing exercise to keep your mind and body fit,” she says. “I’ve also always loved traveling and exploring new places and cultures, as it helps me stay away from monotony and fills me with great energy when I return to work. I hope to bring myself to a position in which I can travel to at least two or three new countries each year.”

The Grad School and Internship Impact

Looking back at her grad school days at Mihaylo College within the college’s information systems and decision sciences (ISDS) program, Bobde identifies the dual focuses on technical aspects – such as data modeling, machine learning and forecasting – and the managerial functions – including project management and strategic marketing – as being impactful to her career.

“This gives the flexibility to choose various electives so you can tailor them to your own plans and provide the direction you are aiming for,” she says. “I took the business analytics track, balancing my statistical/technical courses with the managerial ones, letting me keep my career options open in either area.”

In the last year of her grad program, Bobde held a data science internship at Uptown Treehouse, a Downtown Los Angeles social media marketing startup. The experience, which was her first work experience in the U.S. after emigrating from India, provided insights into the company culture at a startup and applied experience in marketing strategies and digital analytics.

“It instilled in me a sense of ownership, so I could apply the data analytics and modeling algorithms that I learned in class to industry data,” she says. “I also worked with many other interns who were graduating from universities across California, some of whom became really good friends and helped me not only in my professional journey but also in my personal life.”

Mihaylo College ISDS Graduate Programs

For graduate students seeking an ISDS education to prepare them for advanced roles across a wide range of fields, including entertainment, Mihaylo College offers an M.S. in information systems, which has generalist, business analytics and decision sciences concentrations. The college also offers an online cohort-based M.S. in information technology, ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the foremost online business program in California and ninth nationally. That program, which can be completed in 20 months by taking two courses per semester, has concentrations in data science and IT management and is designed for professionals already in the field who desire to expand their knowledge or pursue higher-level roles.

More information on these and other Mihaylo College graduate programs may be found by visiting the Mihaylo College Graduate Programs website.