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Andy’s funding helped me to establish the evaluation process for the rankings presented in the (airport efficiency) report, which has now gained solid traction and is regarded as a top resource around the world.

Twenty years after completing a Master of Science in Business Administration, Andy Fok (MSc ‘92) called up one of his professors to say he’d like to donate funds toward his research.

That professor was Tae Oum, UPS Foundation Chair in Transportation, in Sauder’s Operations and Logistics Division. For the past three decades, Oum has examined and reported on productivity, cost competitiveness, international regulations and policies in the airline industry. Fok was one of Oum’s research assistants in the early 1990s.

“In all my years of hiring research assistants—usually three or four per year—they often kept in touch about job or life news, but this was the first time a former student had called to fund my lab,” says Oum. “Of course, I said ‘yes, that would be fantastic!’”

Fok was keen to support student training on how to work with massive amounts of data and uncover findings that can ultimately help businesses improve their operations.

He owes his career success as a big data analyst to the opportunities he first had to experiment with data mining and statistical programming in the school’s Centre for Transportation Studies.

In 2012, while working at Telus, Fok decided to utilize the company’s charitable matching gift program to double his contribution toward Oum’s work as founder of the Air Transport Research Society, which publishes a significant annual report evaluating the efficiency of 230 airports in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.

“Andy’s funding helped me to establish the evaluation process for the rankings presented in the report, which has now gained solid traction and is regarded as a top resource around the world,” says Oum.

Inspired by his professor’s ability to optimize research funding and train qualified assistants, Fok continues to support Oum’s work every year. He feels strongly about donors doing what they can to help the next generation of research analysts to get a jumpstart on their careers.

“Today, data analytics involves even more complex technology, from multiple disciplines, in which corporate giants such as IBM, SAP, Microsoft and Amazon are investing large amounts of money to prepare for a very different future,” says Fok.

With the proliferation of open source software, he adds, it’s especially important for researchers to know how to apply these tools to business problems in order to find new insights and opportunities.

“As research and development becomes more important in our highly competitive world, it seems the next revolution in many industries is coming from big data and predictive analytics,” says Fok.

“If that is the case, UBC will continue to play a crucial role in training graduates to do research properly and help the industry move forward in this area.”