The role of Business Analyst has many different meanings.

In this interview we talk to Bronia Anderson-Kelly about her career to date and her life as a Business Analyst on the Isle of Man.

You can connect with Bronia via LinkedIn here

Can you give a brief summary of your career path to date?

I started my career in the Finance Sector in the Isle of Man and soon after as an Actuarial Assistant for an Offshore Life Assurance provider. After working out that I didn’t want to be an Actuary I got involved with project work and system migrations for the company I worked for at the time.

The project work led into a career as a Systems Tester, mostly as a contractor, for a number of companies in the Financial Sector both in the Isle of Man and in Australia.

At that time I viewed being a Business Analyst as a pretty difficult thing to be and I heard that they earned another 20% on top of what a System Tester earned which felt pretty lofty.

It wasn’t until I was looking for my next contract when a Business Analysis Manager took a punt on me in 2013 and offered me a position on a contract basis. Since then I have worked on a number of projects for financial companies on the Isle of Man and for the Isle of Man Government.

During my time as a Business Analyst I have completed the BCS International Diploma in Business Analysis, the Diploma in Solution Development and the Foundation Certificate in Agile.

At the moment I consult for Utmost Wealth Solutions who provide life assurance and capital redemption bonds for high net worth UK residents and manage more than £27.6bn assets for over 141,000 clients.

In your view what is the core role of a Business Analyst within an organisation?

As a consultant it is important to know what service it is that you are providing and to meet, and indeed exceed, the expectations of your client.

The services can vary vastly from client to client and project to project and it is important to be adaptable, especially as the role of “Business Analyst” has many different meanings depending upon the history, methodology and structure of an organisation.

At a high-level there are a number of things that are appreciated no matter what the set-up:

  • Translation and intermediary services between the business and solution providers – in some places this can be before project initiation, providing strategic analysis right through to other places where the work can include Systems Analysis, Data Analysis and Solution Design.
  • Formulating business problems and delving into the complexities of stakeholder needs.
  • Providing advice based on a holistic and experience-led views of the business situation to help progress and de-risk projects.

What would you say is your proudest achievement so far?

Definitely making it to the finals of Business Analyst of the Year 2019.

I had entered it twice before, in 2015 and 2017 and didn’t make it to the finals, so I was thrilled to get picked in 2019. It meant I got to go to the BA Conference Europe this year too which was definitely something I would recommend.

Have there been any low points in your career and how did you deal with those?

While working as a System Tester a project was terminated early due to an international strategy change and as collateral damage I lost my role after only 6 weeks of moving back into contract work. I really questioned whether I had made the right move.

The risk of being out of work seems to be the number one reason that colleagues don’t take on contract roles but I’ve learned not to worry about it. I’ve found that by providing a quality service and being adaptable in the work that I can do that I there are companies interested in using your skills.

In order to offset the risk of it happening in the future I try to obtain useful and respected qualifications, work diligently and help others in the same situation to find contract roles, building a strong network.

What do you think are some of the particular challenges that a BA faces in today’s business world?

A couple of things:

  • The pressure, largely from ourselves, to contribute to the delivery of successful projects when there are so many factors that can cause projects to have some type of negative outcome. Having a legacy of on-time, on-budget projects is important and having sufficient ability to drive success, especially in large projects, can be difficult.
  • Keeping up to date on everything; technologies, competitors, COTS options, data analysis techniques, domain knowledge, BA tools. I find that so much of my time is spent researching new things rather than drawing on my existing knowledge.

Do you have any career aspirations for the future that you would like to share with us?

Very simply, I would love to work on projects in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. The opportunity to do so while living on the Isle of Man is comparatively limited because of the main industries here. It’s a work in progress for me.

What advice would you give to anyone who is early into their career as a Business Analyst or considering a move into the profession?

After having been given the privilege of mentoring a handful of fledgling BAs and seeing what difference it makes when you share your knowledge and experience I would recommend finding a mentor, preferably one you work with on a day-to-day basis.

I would also recommend doing plenty of research on the topic you are working on so you are as prepared as you can be for each face-to-face situation.

Lastly, I would recommend getting qualified through the BCS Foundation Certificate in Business Analysis simply because it gives you the grounding and confidence that you know the basics of the breadth of role and some techniques to enable you to get results.

What about your life outside of work, can you tell us a bit about that?

I live in a quiet village on the beautiful Isle of Man with my husband and my 2 year-old son. I have three step-children too, the eldest of which is 19, so life can be pretty busy.

We love to eat out and to get outside, walking in the forests and countryside, and with plenty of visits to parks and soft-play thrown in for good measure.

I founded an informal group of Business Analysts on the Isle of Man and there are nearly 100 of us so I also spend some time arranging events or sharing BA related information.

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