When Michael Dansbury, GSB ’04, came back to Rose Hill in June for Jubilee, he had to dash down to his friend’s Manhattan apartment for a suit. “I was just going to do the day thing,” he says of the annual three-day alumni reunion, but he soon found himself reveling under the tent at the evening gala, staying over in the residence halls, and having brunch with old friends the next morning.
“It was cool just to be in a room with all those guys again,” he says. “Nobody changes.”
Friends may not have changed over the past 10 years, but, as Dansbury knows well, the career landscape certainly has.
After the global financial crisis shuttered Bear Stearns, where he was a vice president overseeing compliance, Dansbury headed to the University of California, Berkeley for an M.B.A. with the hopes of breaking into the tech game. He entered AT&T’s management training program in 2011, and today he’s a senior product marketing manager for big data at the telecom giant’s Silicon Valley offices.
Initiated in February 2013, the division runs like a startup within AT&T, complete with cool tech-startup culture. “We have Ping-Pong tables, a soccer net, TV,” he says. “Everything’s on wheels so you can move things around.”
Dansbury calls the exploding industry “a new world, untraveled territory.” Large data sets have become “an asset class in their own right,” according to Fortune magazine. And in June The Wall Street Journal noted that the quantity of data on AT&T’s network has grown 50,000 percent over the past six years. “Everything emits data, your phone, your car,” Dansbury says, and “everything that emits data is now trackable.” Now, he says, we have the tools to analyze that data. “You can ask a consumer something and they can give you an answer. But if you take a look at the data, the real interesting thing may be two or three levels beneath that.”
For all his success, the South Jersey native says he’s still adjusting to life on the West Coast. “Why does it take me five minutes to get a bagel?” he wonders. But he calls the Bay Area “completely unique and special,” and a great place to foster the entrepreneurial spirit.
Dansbury’s advice to young alumni? “I say, take a risk. Join a startup. … You’ll have more control over matters yourself. You’ll work with more folks your age,” he says. “It’s amazing to be at the forefront of something.”