It’s my honor today to introduce you to Kira Judge. Kira was a participant in the Spring 2019 Session of The Business Analyst Blueprint®.
In this interview, she shares her journey to finding her confidence in a relatively new business analysis role and how she shows up as a leader to ensure she’s solving the right problems for her organization.
- How she transitioned from economist to business analysis.
- The confidence she developed, and how this impacted all areas of her career, from sending emails, to asking the tough questions.
- How The Business Analyst Blueprint® program helped her build the technical skills she needed to create clarity.
- How she focuses on her wins to cultivate a positive mindset.
- How setting boundaries around her work time and practicing self-care gives her more energy to do her best work.
For those who like to read instead of watch, here’s the full text of the video:
Laura Brandenburg: Hello and welcome. I’m Laura Brandenburg from Bridging the Gap here today with Kira Judge from Saskatchewan, Canada. I practiced that a few times. We joked; don’t say it five times fast. Kira is a senior business analyst in that area here to share about her experience with both The Business Analyst Blueprint® program and some of the amazing successes that she’s stepped into in her BA career. Thank you so much for being here, Kira.
Kira Judge: You’re welcome, Laura. We’re grateful that I have this opportunity to participate in your case studies and in a way, inspire other business analysts to recognize the importance of how to help each other out because what I find as a business analyst, we can be perceived as a problem because we discover the problems. We realized the missing requirements. We realize this; we bring light to things that might be missed. And depending on your engagement with business, if you are trying to solve the business problem, you can be just on the technology side, but still you’re bringing value to business.
So, that intention to bring value to business, then you can justify your questions. You can justify some resentment and resistance from your colleagues because you are bringing value to business, and it’s okay. It’s okay to bring value to business because that’s why you’re there. You’re business analysts. I’m very grateful that I am contributing to understanding and appreciation of this profession because it’s very important. And as you know, business analysts are needed everywhere. As Laura points out, success of the project depends on the confident and competent business analysts.
Laura Brandenburg: That’s one of the big transformations I’ve seen in your work this year is just the confidence and how you show up with both the skills and the mindset side of what you’re doing. I love how you articulate it. We’re problem finders. That can create that negative perception. But we’re finding those problems in order to solve them.
Can you just take us back to where you were maybe January this year? But where were you earlier in this career and what were you looking to achieve going forward?
You were kind of already thinking about where do I want to go with my career, and you were in a business analyst role. Correct?
Kira Judge: Yeah.
Laura Brandenburg: And from more of a business background?
Kira Judge: I’m an economist. I came from kind of business intelligence side. It was kind of a journey for me as well because I was on the business side and every time we solve a business problem, it’s all…it all kind of comes to can you validate this business proposition, or can you validate this business outcome? And it all comes to data. That’s how I move from business to IT, and particularly in the data. I work in interface information management where every information that exists in the enterprise is with us or coming to us.
I’m very much able to deliver solutions for business, but also I have to constantly communicate that I need to understand. Before I do anything valuable, I need to understand. And I was using, already, 8-step business analysis process that…I’m not in my office, but I have a drawing, eight steps. Understand. And if you have questions, go back to understand.
Of course, there is some kind of a balance. You have to strike a balance between analysis/paralysis. If it’s going there, you just ask questions. “Am I right to go this way?” The communication is very important. And I was using one of your templates again. I think it’s called a Business Requirements…I forgot the name, but it’s you kind of saying, this is my understanding of what we are trying to achieve, and what is your expectations of me wanting to do for you?
Laura Brandenburg: Right. So, like the Business Analysis Plan. What are we doing? What’s the scope of the project? What am I actually contributing as the BA? Yeah, it’s great to get people on the same page.
Kira Judge: Before I started The Blueprint, I had this strange fear of sending emails. I used to read five times and sometimes you’re writing an email, “Oh, you have to add one more person.” You’re adding another person then you think five times, you’re paralyzing yourself.
Laura Brandenburg: Yeah.
How I am going to create clarity when there is no clarity? Do you dig down in the business process to understand what is needed, who is interacting what?
For example, when I learned their use cases, I understand there is no emotion here. Machine is doing what you want it to do and from business analyst, you say, okay, when machine says this, what does the user do? And when the user does this, what does the machine do? It’s clear dive in picture of what this activity in the business process, if it’s interacted with certain technology, have to do for you.
Then the last thing was the technology. That was incredible. It was super timing for me. At that time, I was doing some kind of, it’s a project, short project. We needed to find out the capability of our business enterprise. What can we do with the supply chain data? It was super timely for me because when I started the project, I was studying the ERD (entity relationship diagram) in The Blueprint. It came along so well.
In fact, Doug helped me. He said, “Kira, you need to understand that ERDs are made in order to make business better.” I remember arguing with Doug, “No, this is what it is.” And he’s like, “I know. I know what your business is doing, but the higher level, you have to understand that this problem has to go at some point. What was happening is I was trying to solve the current problem, but Doug was saying you have to look higher. You have to assume that the problem will disappear at some point, otherwise, you are building the problem.” You’re kind of accepting the mistake or the error will be constantly there.
Laura Brandenburg: I’m curious about this because you are an economist, you were working in business intelligence already which, to me, means you’ve got the data, but then the ERD lesson and the learning still had a big impact for you.
Kira Judge: Absolutely.
Laura Brandenburg: If you had to describe that gap, kind of what the gap was and what you had before and what was that next level…?
Kira Judge: I think what was missing in my knowledge is that when Doug helped me out; data has to live somewhere in order to bring the value to business. Not only to solve one problem, but many other problems for the entire enterprise. When you’re solving one business problem, you tend to solve that particular business problem only, and then you change. But what ERD helped me to understand is you build the system, not only for this particular business problem, but for the other potential business pressures. Quite empowering.
It kind of shows that, and I don’t want to say anything negative about the existing system, but it kind of shows that sometimes when we don’t ask people questions, we kind of build systems that solve the problem, maybe, or it was the attempt to solve the problem. But actually, they created something that kind of looks back, and then it’s kind of stuck.
Again, like somebody else didn’t think through and then we end up with second best or maybe sometimes it’s even worse. Doug’s question was like, yeah, this is so important. Building something, you have to think big long term. There’s a challenge. Then you have to analyze. Yes, I know. So, it’s kind of a balance. When you challenge and you’re, okay, you’re analyzing too, you can say, yes, it’s true. Then define the business objectives. It may be different than what you wanted to do. How do you see? What else you would do?
For example, if I’m new to the environment and I’m making a business process, I can say this is not relevant, that is not relevant. You need to have certain level of expertise to say this is not relevant from steps. When you’re learning new things, you have to know everything, at least that’s what I am challenged by that a lot of projects want to deliver really fast, and now we are moving through agile. So, it’s a challenge. But the confidence that you have, that you’re bringing value, you have tools that you go back and read.
Okay, what questions I have to ask? How do I communicate my value? What tools are used to communicate my value to this project or to this activity?
Laura Brandenburg: Great. And I love how you celebrate your wins. I want to come back to that, too. But before I lose this thought, you shared something a few minutes ago about the time that you spent working on an email and kind of worrying about who was on that email and how it was phrased and how that feels like it’s a big shift. And I know that probably feels like a small thing, but I think this is a big deal in our environment. It’s like BAs probably spend a lot of time on email. Could you just kind of walk through what’s different now when you sit down to write an email? How are you thinking about it now in a different way? Whether or not has anything to do with the course materials. What switched for you?
Kira Judge: I guess the level of being…so if I compare myself a year ago and now for some reason there was this internal belief that you don’t bring value. If you’re adding one additional person and then if your information is not valuable, then it seems like there is this paralyzing belief that you’re not bringing value. That your email will take away somebody’s time. That your information will cause somebody to get frustrated. So, this kind of additional fear and belief; additional fear that you are going to cause something that is not real.
The change is I’m not going to be paralyzed by this thought.
Laura Brandenburg: And that you believe in your value so that you know that email is going to have a positive impact.
Kira Judge: If somebody’s not happy, they will tell me. But most of the time it’s all good. Sometimes it happens that if somebody’s truly unhappy, I pick up the phone or make a lunch, invite, and say, “Hey, let’s find out what I have to do in the future because past is past. I’m not going to dwell in the past. What should we do from now and on? If I’ve done something that offended you, I’m fully accepting. I’m human, you’re human. All I need is to achieve A or Z, right?”
Laura Brandenburg: Yeah, and that comes from within. There’s nothing external that changed. That value has to start here. And then when the external stuff comes up, you have the resilience to handle it. I love that. I know it seems like a small thing to you with the emails, but sometimes it’s the small things that show us the bigger shifts. Thank you for that.
Let’s come back to the wins because you’ve said a few times, “Laura, I’m your win hunter.” And you do. You are so great and have this amazing habit to post your wins almost every single day. I will call you out every once in a while I’m like, “Where are Kira’s wins today?” Talk about how that’s affected you.
Kira Judge: Again it’s focus. I was so amazed that not only me, but Tracie is also following the same pattern.
First thing in the morning, instead of listening to negative news, I read good news network and inform and inspiring news. Somebody helped out somebody. Somebody’s help turning amazing experience for somebody who need it. So there are so many good things happening in the world. But unfortunately, if you focus on negativity, then you will find negativity. That’s my thought.
I am going to record my wins today. Yes, I had a crappy message from project manager, but I am going to celebrate my wins. I am going to learn…this experience; for example, it made me to realize something I missed. I am taking accountability taking I missed something. I don’t blame. I’m human. I’m busy. You should see my email like this. Thirty emails every morning. Possible I missed something.
So I go back to The Blueprint or maybe as a result of The Blueprint, I have access to the Master Class, so there is a clear message from you how to communicate business objectives; how to find out business objectives. But it’s true that a lot of the time every group, technology can have this and business can have this. Your final client wants this and if it’s not clarified and written down and communicated everybody will be doing what they assume.
Those tools make me very confident that whatever I’m doing I’m bringing all of you.
There’s a lot of negativity, unfortunately, and so you have to, literally, be that person who supports yourself. I think a lot of us kind of have negative thoughts because things happen and you’re living in a world where there are a lot of things happening good and bad, but for some reason if you don’t focus on positivity, if you don’t focus on supporting yourself, nobody will. You have to support yourself. That’s why I have lots of them, and sometimes not many, but I still have this habit of inspiring others. When you inspire others, you will find sources of inspiration in others as well.
Laura Brandenburg: Right. That is awesome.
Kira Judge: He’s like, “Where’s my wife?” You mean old me? I changed jobs and I needed support from the BA group. Although I am not new to the company, the BA realm is relatively new to me. That was such as super time for me that I made myself a present.
Another video I have to mention is The Blueprint you sent, if your manager isn’t understanding the value you’re going to bring, send this email. In the email you had a message to my managers. I paid myself in February and waited until the end of June and I had this confidence because that I am learning such a valuable thing for my enterprise, and it was. At the end of the day, they said, “Yeah,” it looked so amazing.
If everybody is so busy, it gets so busy.
Recently, I said to my manager, “Have a great weekend.” He showed me his email. This is my weekend activity; 550 emails. He has to go through 550 emails. I realize, oh my God; he literally, people are so busy. How on earth are you going to convince that your piece is more important?
You, literally, have to bring value by being authentic, by understanding. Compassion is important too, to understand if a person has to go through 550 emails, we can’t risk 550 emails. And the higher you go, that number will only go up.
Laura Brandenburg: You have to work on that belief for you, but we’ll work on that one. But yes.
Kira Judge: I see you got my limitation.
Laura Brandenburg: There’s always something that keeps you from the next level. It’s part of what we do.
I love that; that you submitted it and they had seen the value in you already, in the program and in the changes that you made between February and June, that it was an easy thing for them to reimburse you for the course.
Kira Judge: Yes, it worked out so well.
Laura Brandenburg: That’s part of what you do is you actually do the work while you’re going through the course. So you get the value right away, too. That’s awesome.
Kira Judge: And I like the fact that you always have knee jerks like if your managers are not supportive …. because it says to me you’re from real world. Experience those challenges.
Laura Brandenburg: Yeah, for sure.
Kira Judge: That’s very valuable for me.
Laura Brandenburg: Awesome. And, Kira, you’ve been very generous with your time. Thank you. One of the things I just want to call out to you is you have this very rich and vibrant personal life. We’ve been talking about your career, but I’m just so impressed. You have your morning routine, you bike to work and you have all these pieces that you incorporate into this very, very full and busy workday. Do you have any tips for people on maintaining that kind of a lifestyle with a busy full career high-pressure job like you have?
Kira Judge: I think it’s recognizing and accepting what it is. The positivity is a very important piece. My son told me it was incredible. He was maybe 11-years old. He said, “Mom, do you know how many muscles you spend when you frown?” And I have no idea. “Forty-five. And how many muscles you spend when you smile?” “I have no idea.” “Fifteen.” And then he told me, “When you smile, you’re just not wasting so much energy, and when you frown you’re wasting a lot of energy. So, then, somehow I connected; that’s the tool I have to use.
When we are positive, we are not wasting too much energy and that’s where you have additional energy to swim in the morning, to spread inspiration to others, and take care of yourself. Meditation in the morning, swimming in the morning, biking, it’s all part of taking care of myself. My connection with nature.
You know the River Healer story?
Laura Brandenburg: Mm-hm.
Kira Judge: Oh it gets so crazy. Everybody wants something. So you go out, take care of yourself. Because if I don’t take care of myself, I will screw up.
Laura Brandenburg: Yeah, I love that. That’s a great example.
Kira Judge: It’s all about energy level. You have to have good energy. In order to have that good energy, you have to take care of yourself and inspire yourself.
Laura Brandenburg: Last question, what does success look like for you?
Kira Judge: What does success look like for you? My relationship was already I care. Have to be on a good level. Understanding and compassion and trust from my leaders and my business partners. So trust in relationships. Those two go together. You cannot have a relationship if you don’t trust each other.
Laura Brandenburg: Yeah, that’s beautiful. One of the things I just keep noticing in our community is success looks a little bit different to everyone, so I always like to understand what it really looks like to the people that inspire me every day.
Thank you so much, Kira. I really appreciate your time. I’m super excited to share this with everyone. I think everyone will have some great insight to take away. Thank you so much.
Kira Judge: You’re welcome. Thank you, Laura.
Laura Brandenburg: You’re welcome.
About The Business Analyst Blueprint®
When you join The Business Analyst Blueprint® certification program, you’ll learn all 12 of the industry-standard techniques and the business analysis process framework – to build your confidence in the best practices of business analysis.
You’ll create validated work samples and be a credentialed business analyst as a recipient of the Applied Certification in Business Analysis™ (ACBA).