MBAN alum supports data-driven decisions at Canadian fashion brand
Kemjika Ananaba has attended school on four continents and earned four degrees. But after spending a decade traveling the globe and experiencing different cultures, the recent graduate of the Master of Business Analytics (MBAN) program at the UBC Sauder School of Business decided Vancouver is where she wants to put down roots.
Kemjika is an Inbound Logistics Analyst for Lululemon Athletica Inc. – supporting the apparel company’s global supply chain. Her responsibilities include analyzing and communicating inbound logistics data and insights to facilitate data-driven decision making.
“I love solving problems with data and I love working with people,” says Kemjika. “I have a background in both business and data analytics, so I am able to look at a business problem and see the big picture before creating a lasting business solution.”
A life of travel in pursuit of higher education
It’s a role that’s tailor-made for Kemjika, who grew up in Nigeria and recalls gravitating toward math and science at a young age.
“My Dad is an engineer and I think I wanted to be just like him,” she says.
She began her university studies with a plan to become a civil engineer, but along the way, she changed her specialization.
“Originally I thought I was going to build houses and roads,” she recalls. “However, growing up in a country where having uninterrupted electricity in your home is a luxury, I felt that there had to be some other way of accessing electricity, and so my interest in solar energy was ignited. I made a decision to switch my major to electrical engineering.”
Upon graduation, Kemjika was accepted into a Master of Science program in Electronics and Electrical Engineering at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. “Glasgow was a beautiful place to live and I fell in love with the Scottish accent,” she recalls. “To me, it sounded like singing and I would get so caught up in listening to people’s accents that I missed half of what was said.”
Back in Nigeria, while working for American consumer goods conglomerate Procter & Gamble, Kemjika was introduced to global supply chain management. It was a business area that fascinated her as it combined people, systems and information to achieve an organization’s business objectives.
When her husband’s career took them to Geneva, Switzerland, Kemjika decided to invest further in her career, enrolling in an executive master’s degree in global supply chain management. During her program, she interned with German pharmaceutical company, Merck Serono and developed a deeper understanding of international business.
The next stop on her transcontinental career journey was Cairo, Egypt. Kemjika was hired as an emergency consultant for the World Health Organization (WHO) where she quickly proved herself as a skilled project manager with a talent for intercultural communication.
“Supply chain is actually all about communication,” she says. “And when you are working for the United Nations, you’re surrounded by people from different cultures, so you have to be able to communicate effectively and in a very sensitive manner.”
Her WHO work included establishing a regional emergency operations centre to facilitate communication among units across the Eastern Mediterranean Region. She also co-led a project in Somalia that provided clinical decision support, end-to-end supply chain visibility of cholera medicines, and monitoring of patient care and treatment outcomes. A third project involved working with teams to devise medical supply strategies, including expanding the WHO’s medical supply hub in Dubai to become a regional platform.
Through these complex projects, Kemjika became aware of how data analytics supported better decision-making.
“In supply chain, I always had issues with trying to figure out what was going to happen in the future. My biggest challenge was always forecasting. The truth is that in today’s world, information is everything. Data has become the new gold.”
Learning technical skills for today’s data-driven world
In 2019, Kemjika decided to go back to school to acquire additional technical skills to complement her business experience. After researching several programs, she applied to UBC Sauder’s Master of Business Analytics program. She was accepted into the program and moved to Vancouver with her family.
“When I arrived here, the city’s natural beauty reminded me of Scotland. I decided that after having traveled for so many years, it was time to settle down.”
Upon graduation, Kemjika was immediately hired by one of Canada’s leading sports apparel retailers – Lululemon. Her work is much more engaging than toiling in Excel spreadsheets.
“Being a data analyst can actually be very creative,” she insists. “We build business intelligence solutions from scratch. It’s so nice to create a tool and have people use it and have it make a positive difference in the way they do their jobs.”
In addition to enjoying the flexibility of working from home with considerable autonomy, Kemjika is impressed by her company’s commitment to quality.
“I confess I do love fashion and I especially love quality. I feel very fortunate because I’ve found the best job in the most amazing city. And my kids love it here too.”