Why I Decided to Become a Business Analyst

By Ross Heatley, BA Student
Being a teenager is difficult for a variety of reasons. What can I do after school? How can I get out of not doing my homework for the ninth week in a row? Luckily for me, I just turned 20 and no longer have to worry about those life-altering questions. When my birthday was approaching it gave me an opportunity to reflect on my teenage years and my ever disappearing youth. What did I achieve? What did I not do that I would have liked? How have I grown and changed in the last 10 years? 
The previous questions soon snowballed into, what do I want to achieve in the next 10 years? What am I good at? What do I need to improve on? What can my skillset be applied to? It was in answering these questions that I had what can either be described as an epiphany or a pre-midlife crisis. I was sitting in my accommodation at university where I was over halfway through my first year of a BA Hons in Business Management and it occurred to me that I had lost much of my desire and passion for business, along with my aspirations. It was also incredibly demotivating when I realized I was going to be there for the next three-and-a-half years. I didn’t feel my course was engaging, challenging or worthwhile. It had killed my buzz and energy. 
Discovering Interests and Strengths
Prior to enrolling in university in September 2013, I secured a job as an Application Support Analyst with Aon Hewitt. I was 110% committed to my role. I felt that to make a good contribution to the business, going the extra mile was imperative and being hands-on was key to doing a good job every time—two philosophies I maintain to this day. 
Seven months in I had taken on extra tasks within my role, one of which was to analyze metrics from our fault ticket system and develop a strategy to reduce the impact of the issues and decrease the volume of them. This, for me, was exciting and engaging. It was from this I realized that looking at ways to innovate and improve the team was something I enjoyed and had a natural interest in. 
I thought university would enable me to learn a lot more than what I could from first hand experience, open up a lot more opportunities for me and allow me to develop myself from a personal and career perspective. Retrospectively analyzing that decision, I deduced that the perceived outcome and the actual outcome were in reality very far apart. 
After realizing I had very little motivation for continuing my studies, it hit me that I should look into other avenues. I felt that I could further my career quicker and learn more through hard work, effort, commitment and dedication. It was time to get my motivation back, to commit to self-improvement and to get myself into a position where I was happy with what I was doing. 
Finding a Mentor
I contacted a former colleague and friend who I look up to and take inspiration from. I spoke to him about my dissatisfaction with my course and how it had affected me. Over the next month, we had a call every week and he agreed to mentor me. We discussed what I felt I was good at, what I enjoyed doing and what appealed to me in business. Based on my answers to these questions, he suggested that I look into Business Analysis as a possible career. 
The more I learned about business analysis, the more it enticed me. It was quickly apparent that this is where I see myself in a career. I contacted my friend’s uncle who is a BA and spoke to him about what it was really like to be on that career path to get an “insider perspective”. This only fueled my excitement and desire to get involved. I then ran the idea by my Dad who has been in business all his life so I knew it was a good opinion to have. 
Building a Network
After this, I decided to leave university, which was rather gratifying. I instantly felt my motivation return. I was excited for my new opportunities and new path I was going to create for myself. I joined a few BA groups on LinkedIn and noticed people asking for help and advice and it occurred to me that I could do the same. Even though I wasn’t asking for technical help, advice on projects or more intricate workings of a BA’s day I thought it was the best place to go to for pointers and I had nothing to lose! I asked for some pointers and tips to kick-start my journey to being a BA. The advice and comments I received were incredible and I couldn’t appreciate them more. From books to look at, to an analogy about a making a salad sandwich that was superbly thought provoking. You can find that post here
I then contacted the people who had commented on my post, to thank them and see if there was anything else that they could offer me in terms of advice. I found that people are more than willing to help and support others, which was truly inspiring. 
Maureen McVey replied to my message and suggested we organize a Skype call and I was thrilled to say the least! To speak to someone with a wealth of experience and knowledge in the industry and being a co-founder of IIBA® was just incredible. She gave me advice on what to consider in terms of qualifications, reading materials, where to start my learning to build a solid foundation from which to grow, and was so encouraging and happy to help me out. I can’t thank her enough for taking time out to talk to me. 
Ultimately, I found that speaking to people is the best way to make better informed decisions on these kinds of issues. If you show you are willing to listen to what they have to say, they are more than happy to share advice with you and help you. I’m fully pledged to making a success of my career choice and I am delighted that I became involved with Business Analysis. I am incredibly excited for the new opportunities that are coming my way and I am very much looking forward to getting my first job on the BA career ladder. I believe that making an effort and commitment to an organization is a reward in itself when you can see the outcome of a job well done.