Using Data Modeling to Manage Business Processes

Business Process Management graduate Sarah Al-Sheikhly creates solutions to business inefficiencies

Sarah Al-Sheikhly loves to tell stories using analytics and data modeling.

It all began after graduating from Oregon State University with a bachelor’s degree in public health. She started working at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), a large hospital and academic medical research center. There, she managed data integrity in the facility’s Raiser's Edge donor database and worked under a leadership team that garnered millions of dollars in support for various schools within OHSU.

But while the work was fulfilling in many ways, something was still missing for Sarah.

“After a year of working in health care, I decided to pursue an opportunity to work for Nike, Inc. at their world headquarters outside of Portland,” she says. “This job switch exposed my interest in analytics, data and storytelling.”

It also shined light on her acumen for work in operations, business planning, project management and storytelling.

  • Creating quarterly sales forecasts and planning product performance for an entire footwear business unit.

  • Supporting cross-functional leadership teams with data modeling and storytelling for large projects.

  • Project-managing programs by establishing milestones, identifying stakeholders, and communicating operational and policy changes, cost variances and deliverables to stakeholders.

Using project management skills to collaborate with Nike’s legal department in order to establish timelines and processes for securing training visas for product developers from Southeast Asia.

So why leave Oregon and come to the Bay Area?

“I was looking for a career change and an opportunity to learn in a new environment,” she tells me. “San Francisco is the global hub of commerce and innovation, and I was attracted to the opportunities within the city.”

In San Francisco, Sarah landed first in a marketing role at Gap Inc. “I owned analyzing performance of an online sales division exceeding $300 million in revenue, supported a cross-functional e-commerce team with product performance expertise and guidance, and conducted the financial analysis of online promotional strategies and recommended program emphasis for future online promotions.”

After a few months at Gap Inc., she took her new marketing skills to SEPHORA North America, working as a creative delivery manager in the Marketing and Creative Operations department.

About 10 months into that position, our Professional Program in Business Process Management caught Sarah’s eye.

You are in marketing. Why was business process management a skill set you wanted to acquire?

My role at Sephora is to establish scalable processes that improve the daily operations for our marketing and creative teams. I was interested in business process management (BPM) because I wanted to establish the skills to identify process inefficiencies and design creative solutions to solve those inefficiencies, as well as learn how to communicate solutions more effectively within my organization.

I appreciated that the program offers a multitude of courses related to BPM and provides a well-rounded exposure to the various concepts. I find that programs naturally create a cumulative learning experience, whereas randomized classes can create a disjointed learning experience.

How was your experience in the program?

I had an incredibly positive experience!

The interactive classroom setting for the Business Process Modeling and Design course created an engaging learning environment. Our instructor, Brian Harman, provided relevant case studies for us to dissect and apply process modeling and design principles. I found it advantageous for my role in marketing operations to learn how to visually map processes, identify problems and propose solutions.

It was also an invaluable experience working in small teams, developing connections, and learning diverse perspectives on process modeling and design.

Business Process Modeling and Design is an incredibly tactical and applicable course for anyone interested in learning how to identify process challenges and creative solutions.

How do you use the skills you’ve learned in the program in your work at Sephora?

I am now a senior manager in marketing operations, where I connect disparate information across our marketing organization to improve processes and tools and manage our budget. I still find myself looking back at my class notes for Business Process Modeling and Design in order to outline current-state processes, reflect on challenges and think through creative solutions for my organization.

What advice do you have for somebody who is interested in enhancing their career with BPM skills?

I think it’s important to have a natural curiosity for process improvement. The program comprises classes that offer tactical and actionable strategies, but BPM requires time and practice outside of the classroom to truly learn.