Modernizing the MBTA, one Charlie Card tap at a time

Maura Bastarache Oran, MBA’19 is using her data skills to help Greater Boston’s transit agency launch a new fare collection system

Maura Bastarache Oran in front of T map

Maura Bastarache Oran, MBA’19 credits Brandeis International Business School for deepening her data analysis skills, helping her land internships and jobs at Raytheon and Cubic.

Riding public transportation in Greater Boston can be a challenge, but Maura Bastarache Oran, MBA’19 wants to make at least one aspect of the journey easier.

Oran works as a data analyst at Cubic Transportation Systems, which contracts with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and is currently working to roll out a state-of-the-art fare collection system for the agency.

“I analyze a lot of ridership, patronage, and device-related data,” said Oran, who concentrated in data analytics as part of Brandeis International Business School’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) program. “I also do quite a lot of work in testing environments to make sure the product is ready for deployment.”

Commuters riding the T can expect shorter boarding times and more convenient payment options under the new fare collection system. The system will also provide the MBTA with the flexibility to implement “zone and distance-based fares, time of day fares, and fare capping,” according to Cubic.

In addition to testing and monitoring the new fare system, Oran tracks and analyzes key performance indicators as part of the company’s contract with the MBTA

“That’s one of my big projects using the data and MBA skills I learned at Brandeis,” said Oran. “I’m writing a lot of technical paperwork, which requires a business background.”

Oran works in Boston but collaborates closely with colleagues in New York City, where Cubic recently launched a new fare system for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

“With the New York subway system there are a lot of similarities,” said Oran.

Before enrolling in the International Business School’s MBA program, Oran worked in information technology for the Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts. She soon began plotting out the next steps in her career development.

“I wasn’t sure which direction I wanted to go, but then I saw the data analytics classes at the International Business School,” said Oran. “That’s exactly what I wanted to do.”

Oran arrived at Brandeis with “ad hoc” experience in data analysis. After being exposed to analytics in a deeper, more systematic way thanks to the STEM-designated curriculum of the MBA program’s data analytics concentration, she eventually landed an internship with defense contractor Raytheon.

Her data analysis work as an intern caught the eye of Raytheon managers.

“At the end of the summer, they offered me a full-time position to come back after graduation,” said Oran. “Since graduation, and even during my internship with Raytheon, data analytics has shaped my career. It’s what I’ve been doing since, and what I’ll be doing in the future.”

As a data scientist at Raytheon, Oran was part of a new group of employees building up the company’s analytics capacity. She leaned heavily on the data programming skills she learned at the International Business School.

While knowledge in data analytics has been central to her positions at both Raytheon and Cubic, Oran also believes that her combination of data and business skills have been vital to her career success.

“It helped because I met a lot of stakeholders and people in different departments,” said Oran. “Having the business knowledge enabled me to talk about our projects and goals without getting bogged down in technical details or data. They want to know the high level points, and that’s where the business background is critical.”

At Brandeis Oran was a member of the International Business Women club, taking a leading role in planning the student-led organization’s “Lean In” events.

“That was a great way to expose other students to what’s out there and create a positive environment for women business students,” said Oran.

This article by Douglas Moser originally appeared on the Brandeis International Business School website on October 12, 2021. 

By Career Strategies and Engagement (CSE)
Career Strategies and Engagement (CSE) Career Strategies and Engagement (CSE)