Mendoza School of Business

Google It: Bringing Big Data To The Classroom

Published: April 5, 2019 / Author: Andrew Mentock

Kevin Hartman is an innovative practitioner in the world of business analytics and big data.

His day job is at Google, where he is the Director of Analytics in the Consumer, Government & Entertainment Sector. He is charged with the task of navigating the ever-changing profession of business analytics while working with major advertisers, creative agencies, media companies, and other large and influential organizations.

“My team and I work with advertisers to help build programs and investment opportunities for them to put campaigns on YouTube, search campaigns and on other places through the mediums that Google offers,” Hartman said.

While his job centers around numbers and data, he sees his work as an art form just as much as it is a science.

This perspective has also helped him become a relatable and impactful Notre Dame professor.

For the past four years, Kevin Hartman has spent a significant amount of his time outside of the Google office as an adjunct assistant teaching professor at the University of Notre Dame. Currently, he works within Mendoza College of Business’ Master of Science in Business Analytics [MSBA] program and primarily teaches on the Notre Dame Chicago campus.

Part of his role as a Notre Dame professor is to teach the Introduction to Business Analytics course for the MSBA Chicago program. This week-long, immersive course takes place at Notre Dame’s main campus at the beginning of the program in January.

He teaches in a way that you feel like you can ask questions and engage. Kathryne Burns

“He was fascinating, and I think his approach is also disarming,” said Kathryne Burns, a current student in the MSBA Chicago program. “It was a conversation. He was imparting all of this knowledge and experience on us and kind of setting the foundation or the framework for our year ahead. He teaches in a way that you feel like you can ask questions and engage.”

This gives students the opportunity to practice the conversational skills they’ll need in the business analytics world, which is an essential aspect of Notre Dame’s Masters in Business Analytics program.

The MSBA in Chicago is designed for working professionals with at least two years of work experience. The cohort-based in-person learning environment in downtown Chicago fosters deeper conversation and understanding of data, and the power behind data to make decisions.

March 22, 2019; Kevin Hartman, director of analytics for Google, gives the ‘Ten Years Hence’ lecture. (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

In the classroom, Hartman blends his knowledge of current trends and industry standards. He does this by giving them tools that will help them adapt to wherever the industry goes next.

“The way I teach analytics is informed by my business day job,” Hartman said. “That is also why I don’t want to just impart practical knowledge to them, because that practical knowledge has a very short half-life. Things are moving so quickly. If I teach you how to do something today, that might not be relevant in a week or a year.”

His forward-thinking approach to business analytics is one of the many reasons he is so valuable to Notre Dame, but Hartman also appreciates the opportunity to reconnect to the university as a professor.

Throughout his entire life, Notre Dame has had a special place in Hartman’s heart. In 1992, he graduated from the university with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Economics. He was also born in South Bend while his dad, a Double Domer, was finishing up school.

“Not only was I born here, but this is where my family used to take summer vacations,” Hartman said. “We would stay in Lewis Hall. I have great memories of riding bikes down to The Rock and of fishing in the lakes. So this is a really special place for me, and the students that I encounter are tremendous.”

The dialogue he creates with his students during his lectures keeps him sharp. He says that there’s nothing worse than being a professor, talking to one of your students, and realizing they know more about a recent trend or a relevant event in the news more than he does. This pushes him to new levels in his own career and in the understanding of analytics.

Another value Hartman adds to the Masters in Business Analytics program is his perspective on ethics and how important that is to his work and the future of data.

To him, the use of analytics should be for the benefit of humankind — never to its detriment.

“If you don’t approach the data that you’ve collected and the use of that data responsibly and from an ethical perspective, you destroy trust,” Hartman said. “And for a company like Google, a company like Facebook, and these other companies operating in that space today, trust is almost all they have.”

This outlook is important to Notre Dame and the Mendoza College of Business, which prides itself on providing one of the few Masters in Business Analytics programs that offers a course specifically on Ethics and Big Data Analytics.

“They’re one of, if not the only program that has an entire class devoted to ethics,” Burns said. “That is actually one reason I chose this program. It’s one of the most important things that professionals in the world keep in mind. There’s a lot of responsibility there.”

For more information on the Mendoza College of Business and its Masters of Science in Business Analytics, click here.