Asking the right questions is just as important as understanding human beings and their motivations.

In the latest in our series of interviews I talk to Business Analyst Yulia Kosarenko who tells us about her career path into Business Analysis, the personal challenges along the way and gives great advice for those starting out in the profession.

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

I have a degree in computer science, but in my early career worked in various business roles including marketing, sales, customer service, and operations.

I modified each job using my tech skills by creating process flows, developing custom reports, optimizing the work with macros and going straight to databases for analytics.  I found myself fascinated with the solutions that technology can provide to business, but the quiet work of a developer did not appeal to me. I wanted to work with people, to discover and investigate, to communicate, present and to influence the solutions. That’s how I discovered a career path that could give me what I wanted: business analysis.

Since then, I have worked as a business analyst and system analyst in many different environments – on the business side, the IT side and working for a software vendor. I’ve managed a business analysis team as a “BA captain,” mentored other analysts and led a BA Centre of Excellence.

As the next step in my career, I chose business architecture. After working as a business architect and a solution architect, I managed a business architecture team, and now have my own consulting business, Why Change Consulting, focused on business analysis and business architecture services.

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

A Business Analyst helps organizations define and manage effective change. She must understand how the business functions, help stakeholders identify and analyze the problems that the business is facing, and work with diverse groups of people to define what change is required.

When I describe the role of a Business Analyst, it sounds very much like a management consultant. And this is what excellent business analysts are in their organizations. A business analyst can make a significant impact and become a true catalyst of change.

What would you say is your proudest achievement so far?

In 2019, I published a book: Business Analyst: a Profession and a Mindset. This book helped me share my conviction that a Business Analyst’s mindset is the key ingredient of their success.

Understanding business problems and asking the right questions is just as important as understanding human beings and their motivations.

Publishing this book also motivated me to consider teaching and coaching. This is how I got to where I am today: I conduct free business analysis webinars, coach business analysts, and consult corporate clients. I’ve also developed a new course for Humber College in Toronto where I will start teaching this fall.

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

I would say the lowest point for me was finding myself working in a toxic environment. Corporate culture is a huge factor in job satisfaction. Doing the job you love is not enough – each person also needs a respectful and open environment.

I gave that job and that workplace a chance and put an effort into dealing with the situation. However, in my particular case, the big corporate machine had a lot of inertia. I applied my analysis skills and decided that the best move would be to choose my next employer more carefully. And that’s what I did.

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

Up until recently, I would have said that the biggest challenge was the perception that agile teams do not need business analysts. There has been a lot of debate on this topic, with agile purists claiming that everyone is a team member, therefore collectively the team will fulfill the business analysis role.

I firmly believe that agile teams need Business Analysts. This role requires a special aptitude and set of skills. When business analyst does her job, other team members can focus on what they do best. This is what specialization is about, and there is a reason why today’s workforce is specialized.

However, with the pandemic and global business disruption, the business analysis profession is facing a new challenge. Businesses and corporations will inevitably undergo big changes in the months to come. Major transformational changes will be necessary to survive in a post-COVID world. To help clients define these transformational changes, business analysts will need to learn to think like business architects.

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

I’m developing my consulting business. Ten years from now, I would like to look back and see all the successes that I’ve helped my clients achieve.

Along with that, as I’m getting more involved in teaching and coaching, I’d like to help both aspiring and experienced business analysts and architects achieve their career goals and do what they love. At this point in my professional life, it truly became more about helping others.

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

Learn, practice and adapt. Discover an ocean of free learning resources out there. Connect with experienced Business Analysts to learn from them and find yourself a mentor. Listen, observe, and analyse. Learn many different communication tools, as you will need them all to reach your audiences. And work on developing your business analyst mindset.

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

I love hiking, biking and skiing with my family. In summer, camping and living close to the nature is at the top of our list.

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