What do you get when you combine a lifelong love of sports, a passion for economics, a lot of hard work at the Bryan School of Business and Economics, with a sprinkle of good fortune? Vincent Lorenz can tell you: it’s the position of Business Intelligence Analyst for the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, based in Raleigh, North Carolina.
In December 2019, Lorenz graduated with a MA in applied economics with an emphasis in data analytics. He is still pinching himself about working for the Hurricanes.
“I grew up watching sports – I’m crazy about sports,” he said. “If I told my 12-year-old self about this job, he’d be ecstatic!”
Lorenz made it through several rounds of interviews for this highly competitive position before being hired in February 2020.
“I ‘beat the buzzer’ in terms of the coronavirus and getting this job. I moved to Raleigh and I had two weeks and two days working in the Hurricanes office before everything was shut down,” he said. “I feel so lucky that I have such a great boss and that I am able to keep my job, working remotely.”
In his role, Lorenz conducts data analysis for multiple areas — everything related to the PNC Arena, including concerts and events in addition to conducting marketing research and campaigns for the team.
“There’s an incredible breadth of things I can touch, especially considering I’m not in the office. I spend a lot of time coding, working in Excel spreadsheets, producing clean and reliable data, computer programming, and incorporating seamless data entry into all the platforms across the board,” he said.
Lorenz says his experience at the Bryan School, both in classes and as a graduate assistant with assistant professor of economics Dr. Martin Andersen, prepared him for the challenges of his new position.
“Working with Dr. Andersen was a job-like experience, where he was constantly building up my skills,” said Lorenz. “He saw in me something I didn’t really see in myself in terms of potential. From August 2018 to December 2019 I received amazing training, education, and skills that are relevant to my work. Also, Dr. Andersen was a key reference for this job.”
Lorenz said he reached out to all of his professors after graduating to thank them for building his problem-solving capabilities.
“The skills that I learned with Dr. Van Hasselt – whose class was the most difficult one I’ve ever taken – allow me to look at unfamiliar situations and decide on the best path to take based on these skills,” said Lorenz. “How amazing is it that the Hurricanes took a chance on me, someone new to the field?”
Lorenz said he has been able to demonstrate a capacity to solve problems in an efficient manner – translating his academic experience from the Bryan School into real life.
“This gives me an edge, a way of working through problems that is extremely valuable,” he said.
In the new world of social distancing, Lorenz’s work around arenas and team sports is multifaceted.
“We are thinking about when the fans do come back to the stadium and how we will make sure they are safe. We built a seating optimization model where we take the entire arena and map it with X/Y coordinates so we can build a statistical program that lays out the most optimal combination of all seating alignment based on the number of people,” he said. “We can maximize seating capacity and revenue, and also meet standards that will be set by health officials and the NHL.”
Lorenz is involved in creating statistical models to analyze data from an NHL engagement survey gauging fan sentiment of COVID-19. He’s also busy conducting email marketing for the team to keep in touch with fans.
“Even though I’ve never taken a marketing class in my life, I’m building my skill set on the job. We are making sure the fans are engaged and kept in the loop with the team. I’m so excited about how we send emails requesting fan questions, and then we record an interview with the head coach to answer the questions. It diverges from strict economics, but everything I do is fueled by the awesome problem-solving skills I developed at UNC Greensboro,” he said.
The financial crash of 2008 fueled Lorenz’s initial interest in economics.
“My family was heavily impacted, and at a young age I wanted to know how this happened,” he said.
Lorenz got his undergraduate degree in Economics from North Carolina State University and was driven to learn even more. He applied to several graduate schools and UNC Greensboro stood out – especially the opportunities for assistantships.
“To have the opportunity to work with Dr. Andersen, who is so smart and talented… his patience amazed me! How awesome to have the rare opportunity to work under a professor and get real experience – to get skills that I knew would translate into whatever career pathway I chose. I use these skills every day,” he said. “I believe in finding purpose wherever you go. To have a fulfilling career with a national sports team is incredible. People love sports – a team, a game, is something that everyone can come together to celebrate – it’s a healthy, safe escape. It’s beautiful and I’m happy to make my contribution, and so happy I have the skills to do a really good job.”