Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I have had a typically atypical route into a career as a Business Analyst. Business Analysis was not a suggested option during career guidance in school when filling out the CAO course choices. Contrary to the guidance that I study Teaching (languages), I rebelled and instead ended up studying Maths and law, which was followed by a master’s in international Commercial Law. Professionally, my working career started within administrative teams in Banking (Mortgages & Internet Banking), before later moving into the Life Insurance industry (Pension Management).
In these areas, I was constantly frustrated with inefficient processes and internal barriers to implement better ways to do the work. I was lucky that this frustration coincided with an organisation-wide initiative which I was seconded onto as a business SME (Subject Matter Expert). This opportunity exposed me to the world of Change & Transformation, Project Management & IT projects and irreversibly changed my career trajectory. I made it a focus to identify what skills I lacked and upskill accordingly to break into this type of work.
I spent several years working under that transformational initiative, as part of a small Agile project team before moving companies to gain further valuable experience within a software development company. Latterly, I moved to The Project Foundry and have been here for a little over a year now.
Can you tell us about your role with The Project Foundry?
I am a Senior Business Analyst within the Business Solutions Practice in The Project Foundry. My role involves the provision of consulting support to our clients in a collaborative manner to assist them in the realisation of their strategic goals. Each client engagement is different, and each needs a unique approach to address their unique problems.
The scope of the role provides some truly unique opportunities and exposes me to constant learning across multiple industries and sectors, technologies and tools, domain knowledge and best practices.
What motivates you to do what you do?
I enjoy the variety and the challenges that a Business Analysis role entails. The scope of the role can cover anything from Process Analysis to IT System analysis to Strategy Analysis, and anything in-between. It is a little clichéd, but every day is different, and I enjoy this aspect of continual learning about new industries, new technologies and new ways of working, which I can apply to a variety of situations.
Each business has their own problems or challenges that they are facing, and I love having the opportunity to help them achieve their strategic objectives and drive positive change. I am passionate about solving complex business problems, optimising business processes and being able to see tangible results and realised business value resulting from my work. This motivates me every day.
How have you evolved personally and professionally over the years?
On a personal level, I have had to work on my communication and interpersonal skills, which are critical in this role for building and maintaining positive professional relationships. So much of this role centres on clear, concise, and honest communication with project stakeholders that learning what information, at what level, and when to provide the information is key. Additionally, networking within professional circles was not something I initially paid much heed to, but as I have grown in the role, I can see the huge value that building and maintaining relevant contacts and connections can offer to support Analysis activities.
Professionally, I have had the good fortune to expand my knowledge across various industries and sectors. I have been supported throughout my career in pursuing relevant training and certification in techniques and tools to support and enhance my skillset and have been provided with opportunities to explore emerging and evolving technologies. Continuous learning and adaptability have been, and will continue to be, key to my professional growth.
What does culture in a work environment mean to you? Why is it Important to you?
A positive work culture engages employees and fosters a sense of belonging to something bigger. Working remotely and across different workstreams poses a challenge for teams, mine included. Having a strong work culture, however, encourages closer collaboration and sharing of ideas to support each other. This is particularly important in my role, as collaboration, and the sharing of knowledge and experience across the team, leads to better solutions, for all our clients.
Personally, a positive work culture contributes to my job satisfaction. It is fulfilling to work in an environment where I feel respected, appreciated, and empowered to excel. This, in turn, positively influences the work I deliver each day.
How do you maintain a healthy balance between your work and personal life?
It is all too easy to fall into poor behavioural practices when working (primarily) remote, due to the ease of how a routine can be influenced. I have found that it is essential to set boundaries and maintain a regular routine to support a healthy work/life balance.
Simplistically, I find that getting some fresh air is the key enabler for a better balance. I walk the school drop off before work which wakes me up and has me ready to go when I log in and walking the school collection after work helps to clear my head from the day’s activities. In the pre-remote working days, cycling the work commute served the same purpose. I am also a firm believer of taking the full hour allocated for lunch, preferably outdoors, as a key opportunity to mentally reset and recharge to maintain focus for the coming afternoon.
Technology can blur lines in a remote work setting, so not only is it important to set boundaries on work-related tasks so they do not encroach on personal time, but it is also equally important that there is no cultural expectation that you will be working off the clock and available 24/7. A clear and shared understanding in the work sphere is needed for which hours you are working and when you are unavailable, and this needs to be respected.
Are there any misconceptions about your work/field that you would like to clarify?
A common misconception is that Business Analysts only deal with IT projects, or that we should know everything about a topic. While IT projects tend to be a significant part of typical Business Analysis work, the role can also address process improvements, data analysis and strategic planning. Business Analysts are versatile problem solvers who can support a multitude of business needs, and if we do not know the answer right now, we will find it out!
Is there a particular aspect of your work that you are especially passionate about?
I am particularly passionate about using technology to improve work processes for end users. I enjoy being able to look at a business process and see where tangible gains can be made through tactical interventions. I am particularly keen on how emerging technologies, such as AI (Artificial Intelligence), are introducing revolutionary tools to mainstream use, and can radically support process transformation in a manner we have not seen in decades. This is going to be revolutionary in how Business Analysts deliver value to clients, and being at the forefront of this is an exciting place to be right now.
How do you deliver value to clients?
Understanding the needs and challenges of the client is key. It is a collaborative partnership where I can work with the client to provide a flexible solution that is tailored to and addresses their unique circumstances. Not only do I bring a breadth of cross-industry experience and skills which may be lacking in the client organisation, but I can draw on the skills, knowledge, and experiences of a far wider team of consultants here in The Project Foundry, which ensures that I can have the right tools to support the client. Critically, I ensure that work outputs, recommendations and suggestions are all actionable and aligned to the client’s goals, first and foremost.
What is the one thing that very few people know about you?
I secretly enjoy programming, specifically coding in Python and wish I had more reasons to use it in my day-to-day work!