Alumni Profile: Andrew Williams, BSPH
Senior Associate Systems Engineer, SAS Institute
Describe your current position
I provide pre-sales consulting for opportunities with health and life sciences customers. That involves demonstrating value and capabilities of SAS software solutions.
List your career highlights
I was 2015 Health and Life Sciences Pre-Sales Rookie of the Year.
Why did you choose UNC?
I chose UNC because of the academics and location. I looked at schools in the Southeast and fell in love with Chapel Hill when I visited as a high school junior. I was fortunate enough to be admitted and found many more reasons to love it once enrolled. I was immediately impressed by how high the bar was in terms of the academic backgrounds of my classmates. I didn’t plan on majoring in Biostatistics going into college, but it worked out well that I got to study it at one of the top schools of public health in the country.
What was your favorite thing about the Department of Biostatistics?
The Department of Biostatistics at UNC was a close-knit community. I felt very comfortable going to my professors or Dr. Jane Monaco [Clinical Associate Professor], my adviser, for help. I also liked the focus on application, rather than pure theory, in the BSPH program.
Discuss your relationship with faculty and/or staff during or after the program.
I have Dr. Monaco to thank for most of my success. She was helpful before I was admitted to the BSPH program. When I decided to pursue a degree in Analytics, rather than further studies in biostatistics, she was supportive and gave me a recommendation. I always knew I could be honest with her because she was always going to be honest with me. She won the advising award my senior year, which didn’t surprise any of us.
Could you have gotten where you are today without your UNC degree? Please explain.
While I do not work as a biostatistician today, I could not be where I am without my BSPH degree from UNC. The Biostatistics program gave me a passion for using math and programming as they relate to healthcare. More specifically, I got my first exposure to SAS programming in the BSPH program and still use those skills every day. Being in the biostatistics program got me an internship in statistical programming at Quintiles. The combination of skills from the degree and internship got me into the MS in Analytics program at NC State. That degree got me a job in the Analytics group at Cigna. The culmination of those degrees and experiences got me to SAS. I frequently work with biostatisticians and public health professionals to understand what SAS can do to help them. My UNC degree is a valuable tool I call upon in those interactions.
What is your first memory of Chapel Hill or the Department of Biostatistics?
My first memory of the Department of Biostatistics was receiving an email after my first semester freshman year with the subject “Consider Majoring in Biostatistics.” I hadn’t heard of that field and was interested in the idea of applying math in a public health setting to impact large numbers of people. I scheduled a meeting with Dr. Monaco, who put me on the right path to getting admitted by suggesting that I apply to the Summer Institute in Biostatistics (SIBS) program. I completed that at Washington University in St. Louis and was fortunate to be admitted to the BSPH program the next year.