From the Dog House to the Boardroom: My Journey to Business Analysis

By Tannis Rentz, Business Analyst
You probably already know that this is not a story that starts with, “I always knew I would grow up to be a Business Analyst.” It actually started with an interest in and love for animals. We always had pets growing up and I doctored them by putting bandages on them, sometimes even if they didn’t need it.  I decided to go to Red River College and take the Animal Health Technology (Veterinary Nursing) program after volunteering at a local veterinary practice. In 2002, I graduated with my degree and enthusiastically began my new career as an Animal Health Technologist at the Winnipeg Animal Emergency Clinic.
I didn’t know it at the time, but in retrospect here is where I really started to grow my analytical and problem solving skills. To work well in an emergency situation you have put your emotions aside and deal with the problem at hand.  I learned the value of asking the necessary questions to get to the source of a problem. A young man one Saturday night brought in his eight month old dog. The poor puppy was very agitated, falling over and appeared to be hallucinating.  We sat down in the exam room to collect some medical history. After I asked in many different ways if the dog could have gotten into anything, the man pulled out an empty, chewed up bag that smelled a tad skunky. We admitted the dog for marijuana toxicity and a bad case of the munchies.
After several years and a lot of pet lives saved and lost, I traded in my scrubs and stethoscope for high heels and a laptop when I was offered a unique position as a Claim Adjuster for Canada’s leading pet health insurance provider, Western Financial Insurance Company (Petsecure Pet Health Insurance).  Here I was able to bundle my analytical thinking with my medical experience and work in an industry that promotes responsible pet ownership by insuring pets for unforeseen medical expenses.  
I made my leap into the world of business analysis and software development by working on a new customer policy management system, and there was no turning back. I have worked as a Business Analyst on many projects both large and small within Western Financial, ranging from software enhancements to developing and launching new pet health insurance products.  
I have learned from both working as a veterinary nurse and as a business analyst to evaluate a process and identify ways to improve it. In the veterinary practice I created a standard operating procedure for sterilizing surgical instruments and color coding surgical tools so all surgery packs can be put together with the correct instruments. In my current role, I implemented a print on demand solution for letterhead to reduce costs and increase our capacity for printing. I have also learned how to communicate and understand the needs of a variety of stakeholders—even furry ones that don't have the ability to speak.
Through it all I never lost my affinity for animal health care whether it is volunteering at a local animal organization or across the world to help treat street dogs in Nepal. I have the pleasure of working with an office full of pet lovers who often bring their pets to the office to keep us company. In a day it is not uncommon to run from meeting to meeting and do a nail trim or two on our furry office mates during the break.  
In the career paths we travel in life, we are never alone. We have to thank all the teachers, leaders, mentors, colleagues and friends for seeing our potential and supporting our needs for growth and improvement.