In this interview we talk to Libby Vincent about her Business Analysis career to date and how she has become a proud JustEater!
You can connect with Libby via LinkedIn here
Can you give a brief summary of your career path to date?
I left University early to promote live music events, and I loved it, mostly; but there comes a time when the late nights aren’t as much fun as they used to be. I wanted a new career, but before I decided on what that might be, I needed an entry-level role to pay my rent. A friend recommended me for a job in the contact centre in which she worked.
By chance, I was seconded to the Management Information team and used the opportunity (and broadband connection) to teach myself data modelling. I moved from there into Construction and then Finance, where I had the chance to work on the creation of an internal digital product. Building on that Digital experience, I moved into eCommerce.
Through contracting, I gained confidence and experience, but after a few years, I wanted a permanent home in which to build a team that valued the BA career path. Just Eat provided me with that opportunity; I’ve been a JustEater for nearly two years.
In your view what is the core role of a Business Analyst within an organisation?
The value of Business Analysis is through the facilitation of informed decision making. Decisions enabled, not activities completed, identifies the role of Business Analysis.
For example, a common misconception is that business analysts gather requirements. Requirements aren’t gathered, they are decided. Your Business Analyst facilitates understanding; expressing initially complex, obscure or unobserved information in such a way as to promote high-quality decision making.
What would you say is your proudest achievement so far?
The Just Eat BA team.
I am proud to have played my part in building Just Eat’s appetite for business analysis to a level where it could justify a proper BA function with an attractive career ladder.
Our BA team represents a diversity of identities, ambitions, backgrounds and qualifications. It’s the team I wish I had the opportunity to join as I was starting.
Have there been any low points in your career and how did you deal with those?
In my last contract role, I burned out.
A demanding client, an over-ambitious Product Manager and a tight deadline left me without motivation, cynical and doubting my professional ability. By the end, challenges which earlier in the project had energised me failed to raise even mild concern. I didn’t like the ‘nippy sweetie’ I’d become.
Being a BA nerd, I turned my analysis skills on my situation.
I recognised the impact of not having support from a manager, role clarity and the time I needed to do a good job.
I decided that to be happy I needed to settle somewhere that I could help protect other BAs from burnout. With a clear goal, I then actively pursued my next step.
What do you think are some of the particular challenges that a BA faces in today’s business world?
Business Analysts are active listeners and fast learners. The challenge is remaining focused on delivering value through analysis when opportunity tempts colleagues to take advantage of our adaptability.
I have known BAs to be the legacy system “power-user” because they were the only team member to put in the time necessary to understand how it worked. I once met a BA responding to customer grievances, because “complaints are requirements”, right?
If you want to remain motivated in your role and moving forward in your career, keep your analysis muscles active, know your value and don’t be flattered into owning tedious tasks.
Do you have any career aspirations for the future that you would like to share with us?
Rather than a personal career ambition, I have an aspiration for the BA discipline. I want the standard answer to the question “Why do we need business analysis?” to be “Because our people matter to us”, and if that’s too touchy-feely for you “Because diversity and inclusion measures positively correlate with company performance.”
I realise that this may sound melodramatic but bear with me;
If we want to work in a neuro-diverse environment that attracts, retains and fully benefits from the perspectives of all identities, we need to respect that we don’t all communicate or understand in the same way.
To create and maintain an environment where all our colleagues feel informed and empowered, we need business analysis.
As a secondary and slightly less lofty goal, I also aspire to be one of the “industry professionals” on The Apprentice. As pitch their concept, I over-act my disappointment and take notes on a clipboard — cue massive eye roll.
What advice would you give to anyone who is early into their career as a Business Analyst or considering a move into the profession?
Everyone you meet knows something that you don’t and that it would be to your benefit to learn. Show that you appreciate the time people give you by taking notes and making eye contact. Always playback what you’ve heard to confirm the lens through which you view the information hasn’t altered it. Always say thank you.
How you synthesise information is more important than how you document it. One simple diagram that anyone can read has a much higher value than a 100-gate process map in a language you need a qualification to read. Don’t show off.
Your ability to demonstrate curiosity and tenacity is more valuable that BA qualifications. If you want to move into Business Analysis, try to prove your aptitude. Analyse your work history and create a CV full of examples where you recognised an opportunity that others didn’t. Make a big deal out of the difference you made rather than the stuff you did.
What about your life outside of work, can you tell us a bit about that?
I live in South West London where I am blessed with an overgrown garden and a large kitchen. Perfect weekends are those I spend cooking for friends or listening to my partner describing wine. Very occasionally I correctly guess what the wine we are drinking should taste of – if you ever play this game know that it is never grapes.
My 2020 goal is to publish more of my writing. I enjoy blogging about Business Analysis and I delight in the feedback that people find my posts useful. I can’t imagine anything more fulfilling than being useful.