In this interview we talk to Business Analyst Daniel Callaghan who tells us about his move from Policeman to BA!
You can connect with Daniel on LinkedIn here
Can you give a brief summary of your career path to date?
One thing a lot of people don’t realise is that I was a police officer for 10 years before training as a BA. I am not advocating that you need to do this before becoming a BA but without doubt I picked up a lot of great problem solving and life skills which I have relied on many times.
I started my BA career about 10 years ago at the MoD and was very fortunate to be mentored by some superb consultants who I owe a lot to – even now I still apply the principles and standards they taught me.
After securing my diploma I focused on Business Improvement – Lean and 6Sigma – before joining Applied Intelligence as a consultant. My time at AI allowed me to work with new sectors and clients and develop my consulting skills.
This was followed by a move to the Higher Education sector where I worked for a university located close to home. This was the first time in my working life I did not have to travel or spend extended periods away from home and this was a very welcome work life balance experience.
I then decided to set up my own business about 2 years ago and have been enjoying working with a variety of clients since.
In your view what is the core role of a Business Analyst within an organisation?
Understand business problems and help the business to realise the benefits by resolving them. Establish the ‘why’ and everything else will fall into place.
What would you say is your proudest achievement so far?
At the MoD I established the Business Improvement capability and was responsible for a number of successful Lean initiatives whilst in parallel defining the standards, frameworks and instigating a training programme for junior BAs.
The BI capability is still going today and staffed by a small team – for me a great achievement and legacy from something I pioneered on my own and had to prove the value of.
Although only a month in, I am also very proud to be working at NHSX during these challenging times.
Have there been any low points in your career and how did you deal with those?
There have certainly been some along the way and I am sure still more to come. I try to look at these situations pragmatically and honestly and see how it could have been avoided and if or how much I caused or impacted on the situation.
You cannot change the past but you can do your best to ensure the same issues don’t arise again.
What do you think are some of the particular challenges that a BA faces in today’s business world?
Keeping up to date with technology and transformation best practice. Although I would not label myself a ‘techy’ I do maintain a good knowledge of emerging technologies and how more progressive organisations are embracing technology to transform their businesses.
I think there are also very high expectations – people are spoiled with the quality of technology and access to digital services in their personal lives and find it hard to understand why organisations cannot achieve the same level of service and capability.
As BAs we need to explain why this is not always possible owing to the constraints placed on organisations.
Do you have any career aspirations for the future that you would like to share with us?
I am keen to work in the Financial sector or Fintech environments as this is a gap in my knowledge and somewhere I genuinely think I would enjoy working.
Long term I want to develop a portfolio of clients and transition from a contracting model to portfolio-based business.
What advice would you give to anyone who is early into their career as a Business Analyst or considering a move into the profession?
Don’t rush and spend a good year building you foundation skills and securing the International Diploma or IIBA certifications. Use the time to also understand the type of BA you want to be; strategic, process, systems, agile, transformation etc.
It is important to have an understanding of all but you need to be able to set yourself apart form other BAs and promote your services as such.
Work across the whole implementation lifecycle so you can learn how to add maximum value and gain experience of challenges and issues organisations face. Try to work across multiple sectors to develop diverse skills and experience and don’t be embarrassed to admit you are new to a sector or environment – a good BA can be effective anywhere.
Seek out a mentor or coach, they don’t necessarily have to be a BA but someone who can help you identify your growth and development needs and how to stretch yourself – invaluable.
What about your life outside of work, can you tell us a bit about that?
Have two children so that consumes a lot of my time and they are at the age of constant parties and clubs! Aside from that I am lucky enough to live on the coast so I also take advantage of all that offers and spend a lot of time outside and travel as often as possible.