The Career Trajectory of a Senior Business Analyst: an Interview with Disha Trivedi, CBAP

I’m so honored to share this interview with you today. I’ve known Disha Trivedi almost since the inception of Bridging the Gap. She’s been a course participant and we both completed our CBAP certification around the same time (and while pregnant with our first daughters). What’s more, Disha Trivedi is one of our instructors at Bridging the Gap.

Disha and I discussed the trajectory of her business analysis career – and she shares some amazing gems that are her keys to success.

As participants are realizing inside the Circle of Success, our mindset mastery program for analytical professionals, getting clear on what you want and rewriting your limiting beliefs, is exactly how you move forward more quickly.

Disha gives us some great, practical examples of this! In this interview, you’ll gain insights into:

In this interview, you’ll gain insights into:

  • How to transition from software development to business analyst.
  • The wide variety of roles you can fill as a business analyst over the course of your career.
  • How to leverage specific technical expertise, like Sparx, to find new roles and negotiate contract terms.
  • How to find opportunities to work remotely, and how to succeed as a remote business analyst.
  • The fulfillment you can find as a mentor for other business analysts.

I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did. Join me in congratulating Disha on her career, and reach out to connect with Disha on LinkedIn.

 

For those who like to read instead of watch, here’s the full text of the video:

Laura Brandenburg: Hello and welcome everyone. I’m Laura Brandenburg from Bridging the Gap, and we’re here today with Disha Trivedi who’s going to share a lot about her business analysis career. Thank you, Disha. Thank you for being here.

Disha Trivedi: Absolutely. It’s a pleasure.

Laura Brandenburg: Let’s just dive right in here. Do you want to tell me a little bit about your current role as a business analyst?

Disha Trivedi: Sure. Currently, I’m working with…I’m working in government space and I’m working on a project where we are implementing a requirements management tool. But that’s going to be a central depository for all the system models and test cases and everything.

So, in my role right now, I’m helping them define the whole process of how the requirements will get in there and we’re also building up a sound technology to capture custom attributes for the requirements and, basically, standardize the whole requirements management process.

I’m also writing a lot of backend scripts. A lot of them, actually. Because that allows us to query the back end, and create a lot of reports as we go because the organization I’m working with is pretty big. So, while we are still getting to a point where everything, everybody is consistent, we have a lot of audits that we’re using.

Laura Brandenburg: Okay. And what does your work look like with day-to-day? What does a typical day look like?

Disha Trivedi: I’m working with one main stakeholder, and she’s my window into the organization. However, I do interact with stakeholders from individual teams as and when needed, but I think I’ve been doing most of my work has been around a tool called Enterprise Architect.

And like I said, these days I’ve been working a lot on scripts, and sometimes I’m also working on what’s called MDG. It’s just a fancy name for building custom technology that works with Enterprise Architect and lets you capture custom data that you want for requirements, basically.

Laura Brandenburg: Right. So, it’s the business analyst role and you’re analyzing the business process for this requirements process, and it sounds like some of the technical hands-on tools in the setup.

Disha Trivedi: I think the value that I bring is that I understand what a good requirement is and what kind of attributes we should be capturing. And also because I have worked with this application before, Enterprise Architect, it’s also called Sparx. Because I worked with Sparx before, that I’m able to kind of merge expertise in both and let them get where they want to be.

Laura Brandenburg: Right. Because your most recent role was very different.

Disha Trivedi: Before this, I was actually more in an agile environment. I was working as a product owner where I was in communication with more than one stakeholder, and we also had, our team was geographically dispersed and I would get all the requirements from the product manager because the product manager was more external business facing. And, then, I would work with my development teams to, basically, to take the requirements and actually turn that into a deliverable.

We were integrating two different systems. So, we had two different teams and a lot of cross-learning going on there because each team was expert in their own domain. And me and another product owner, our role was to define the requirements and to outline things in a way that those two teams together would give us the functionality that we needed.

Laura Brandenburg: Right. So, were there a lot of challenges like navigating that communication and getting people on the same page?

Disha Trivedi: Yes, so, we used to have a lot of meetings, as you can imagine. The team was geographically dispersed. We used to have a lot of conference calls. However, the team dynamics were great, and so anytime anybody had a question, the other party, the subject matter expert, they were always there. And just because of the time zones, or because we had U.S., Russia, and India, we had coverage 24 hours, kind of.

One of the challenges that we faced, and it was a lot more so from a development perspective, but we did not have a Scrum Master for some time, and they saw me as a natural choice because I was already working with the team. So, I delved into that a little bit and while I enjoyed doing that part, I also think that the team made it a lot more straightforward for me because we already had great team dynamics going on. And I also learned that it’s not something that I enjoy doing.

Laura Brandenburg: Sometimes we need those right turns to show us.

Disha Trivedi: Analysis is something that really drives me, but I was happy to do it for some time.

Laura Brandenburg: Yeah, I forgot to introduce you. You are also an instructor for Bridging the Gap and a past course participant. I feel like I’ve known you forever. Probably most of the 10 years that we’ve been in business. This is the first time we’re recording something like this.

You’ve been telling me, recently, like how much you love business analysis and it’s always part of what you do and how tied in you feel about it. So, the product owner, sitting much better than a Scrum Master, right.

Disha Trivedi: Yes. And, definitely, my story definitely starts with Bridging the Gap. The first exposure that I had was in college in my software engineering class. I loved that class. We learned about extreme programming and the whole software engineering. At that point, I was like, “Oh, this is cool. I like this.” But I didn’t think much about it because starting right out of college, I worked as a software developer.

But, then, I learned about a business analyst, and when I had decided to make the transition, you had just come out with the book on How to Start a Business Analyst Career. So, I got that e-book and I went through it and I was like, that was further validation that this is something that I truly enjoy. And then I used to read a lot of your blog posts and I used to attend IIBA® webinars.

Even before I formally had the role of business analyst, I was already working towards it in the sense that I first started by understanding what that role is and then, gradually, I started taking on more duties that would allow me to transition into this role.

Once I had made the decision that I wanted to be more people facing and I wanted to be a business analyst, my next position that I landed was that of a technical analyst. So, I was still working with a lot of folks and I was working on use cases and models, different models – class diagrams and things like that. But I think that was the transition. Then my next role was that of a business analyst.

Laura Brandenburg: Right. So, just to connect some of the dots there, did you start in that software developer role doing more business analysis even before you got to the technical analyst role, or did you kind of have to get into that role first?

Disha Trivedi: When I was a software developer, I did not have a lot of opportunities to actually work on the kind of deliverables that a BA would. But, still, because it was a small company and I was working with the stakeholders directly to get the requirements, there was still a component to it. But I would say, like 5% – 10%. Not a lot.

But then I actively started seeking out responsibilities and in my role as a technical analyst, my manager was extremely supportive of this. So, he used to assign me projects where there would be a little bit more business analysis kind of work to do. And, actually, that is where I first started using Sparx. We used to use Sparx to capture use cases. It was like one step after another.

Laura Brandenburg: Right, right, kind of continuing to move from a technology, more, to a business role. And it’s interesting now that your career has kind of shifted more, it sounds like almost back in more of a technical direction as well. Are you enjoying that?

Disha Trivedi: Yes, I do. I am enjoying that because it’s very interesting to know a software or an application from the front end and then to learn the back end of it and be able to extract out information that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to access through the front end. And it’s just so powerful that I enjoy that.

However, as you know, I’m a hardcore business analyst, and I’ll stay that way. But, definitely, this role allows me to beautifully blend the technical know-how that I have, and also just the pure analysis part that I enjoy.

Laura Brandenburg: So, it kind of keeps you enough in the analysis space?

Disha Trivedi: Yes, it does.

Laura Brandenburg: Any other milestones in your career? We talked about software developer, technical analyst, and then, really, your first business analyst role. I guess we didn’t talk very much about that. What did that look like?

Disha Trivedi: So, that one was quite interesting because that was an organization which recognized the role of BA. We had a lot of BAs. However, most of the BAs had moved from the support role. They did not have formal education on what a BA does, which is fine, because I mean, not that it’s totally fine, but we had a lot of domain expertise. That balanced things out.

But that role was interesting in the sense that they were also trying to convert to agile at that point, and there was a lot of chaos. And I feel that, like, I talked to some BAs and I see that they are like, “Oh, there is so much ambiguity. How can one work in a situation like this?”

And I think that when a certain order of consistency and process, is it acquired? However, I think as BAs, we can really shine when there is a lack of that because we are able to recognize those gaps and fill those gaps.

Overall, I think my work in that organization was interesting. It was good. I started out as a senior BA, and then I became a lead BA, and then a product owner, everything within 3 – 3 ½ years. I got to train a lot of those other BAs as well. So, yeah, that was interesting.

Laura Brandenburg: At what point in that journey did you, because I know you did courses with Bridging the Gap as well. At what point did you do your formal training? You mentioned the BAs you worked with didn’t have the benefit of that.

Disha Trivedi: So, I was, actually, using the book that you had published and obtained my CBAP® in, I think, I did it around the same time as you, in 2012, I think. That’s all. I did not do any other formal course because I have a background in computer science, so I had done some of these things, but it was actually being able to be in the role where I could really implement that knowledge.

Laura Brandenburg: Right. So, you did the training once you were in that senior BA role, and then going for your CBAP®? But you had the benefit of probably learning a lot of those techniques in your computer science role, your education?

Disha Trivedi: Yes.

Laura Brandenburg: I think that’s always an interesting question for people. When is the right time for training? It’s a little different for everyone, but I liked how you positioned that.

Disha Trivedi: Right. So, I think the way, yeah, the way I sort of approached that was I read the BABOK when I was still a software developer. So, even before the technical analyst role, I had already gone through BABOK to understand the role and what the expectations are from the industry of the BAs. That, I think, helped me connect a lot of dots between what I had learned in school vs. how things are done in actual life.

Laura Brandenburg: Right, so you had started to assimilate in other industry standards as well.

Disha Trivedi: Yeah.

Laura Brandenburg: Awesome. Any other milestones you want to share as you think backward, now that you’ve accomplished?

Disha Trivedi: No, I think I’ve covered most of everything. I think CBAP® definitely was good because I was expecting my first child and I wanted to make sure that I get it done before the baby arrived.

Laura Brandenburg: Right, we did that together. Pregnant and studying for the CBAP®.

Disha Trivedi: And then there was this one point where the content used to make sense, but then every time I would try it within the question, my answer would be wrong. And I wasn’t able to figure out what was going on. And then you wrote that article where you were going through the same thing and I was like, oh, a good validating point saying that, okay.

Laura Brandenburg: Yeah, because there was like additional layer when you’re going through the certification of like yes, I know how to do this, but how do I actually answer test questions?

Disha Trivedi: But I think, just going back to your question, I think more in terms of milestones. I think I’ve always had my sight on what I can do next as a BA. And I just like to get in as much information as I can through webinars and through blog posts and things like that. And I think I have been able to get to that next level.

Laura Brandenburg: Yeah, and then one of the things we haven’t talked about yet, as well, is your role with us as an instructor. How is that? What do you enjoy about that?

Disha Trivedi: I think when I think of the instructor role, I think it does more good for me than I’m able to do for the participants because not only do I learn so much from the products that they pick up, but also the best part of it is being able to guide somebody in that role.

And I like to keep myself available in case they don’t have; like they’re not already in an IT environment, or if they don’t already have a project that they can work with, because I remember that can be really, really challenging initially when you are not formally in that role yet. But, I think, getting other BAs on to this path is what I enjoy the most about being in the instructor role.

Laura Brandenburg: Right, and you’re a great supporter and kind of helping people connect the dots and take that forward next step, too, and just that clarity of, sometimes when you’re doing something for the first time, or not sometimes, almost every time. It’s just like you need somebody to connect the dots and meet you where you are and take the next step. And I see that in the work that you do.

Disha Trivedi: Yeah, there are times when it’s like you don’t know what you don’t know and having somebody’s outside perspective, I think that helps. I’m hoping that I’m able to provide that perspective to our participants.

Laura Brandenburg: You shared how this work helped you with your job search at one point as well. Like it was a leverage point.

Disha Trivedi: Yeah, after my second kid, I decided to take a break, more so for my older daughter. I decided to take a break and I was not working for six or seven months. But because I had never been not working, I was very uncomfortable. Then I reached out to you.

The fact that we collaborated and I was working with BTG as an instructor when I went in for job interviews, I felt much more comfortable saying that I’m already, I’m working as an instructor, but I’m ready to take on full-time work or, basically, to take on more. So, my work at Bridging the Gap has been amazing in a lot of regards.

Laura Brandenburg: And it’s been amazing to have you, too. I remember you emailed me and you were like, “I actually negotiated a better thing, and I felt so good going in.” And that was really fulfilling to me as well. I love that we were able to do that in a really flexible way.

Disha Trivedi: I did not think that my first opportunity itself would be remote work because I wanted remote work at that point. And I was able to get remote work.

Laura Brandenburg: And are you still working remotely now?

Disha Trivedi: I am.

Laura Brandenburg: Yeah, okay. Awesome. That gives a lot of flexibility, for sure.

Disha Trivedi: It does. It does.

Laura Brandenburg: I know we didn’t plan to talk about this, but I get a lot of questions from people about finding remote work, succeeding at remote work. Do you have any recommendations around that?

Disha Trivedi: So, my first opportunity to work from home, I had already been going into the office for that particular role. But we were moving because my husband found a job in the northeast, and we did want to move to the northeast. We used to be in south Florida. So, at that point, I think it helped me transition to being a remote worker because I already knew the people that I was working with.

However, in my next project, in that same organization, like I said, the team itself was everywhere. We had a team in Russia, in India, and a couple of us were here in North America. It worked out because we had good collaboration tools. But I think what definitely helps me is being disciplined. And I think, for me, it came naturally because I was already used to going into the office. So, even right now, for me, it’s like by 7:30 or 8:00, I am downstairs in my office. And then I get done, as well, like around 3:00 or 4:00, I’m done.

So, I maintain that same schedule. Definitely a dedicated office space is a must-have. And, also, I try to go to out once a week for lunch or something because, otherwise, you’ll miss out on that social interaction which, again, for me, thankfully, through BTG, I was used to.

Laura Brandenburg: And since then, you’ve found another job that’s with a new company where you were working remote. How did that come to be?

Disha Trivedi: Yes, and I think that…that was the one that I was not expecting. At that point, I had interviewed with two companies, and I got job offers from both. One of them was 20 minutes away from me, and the other one was an hour away, and they said, the one that was an hour away, I declined them because I said because of the commute, even though I did really like what the project had to offer, and they said if that’s the only thing, that we are okay with you working remotely because the team that I work with, everybody is in California anyway. I don’t interface with anybody locally. So, it worked out. Like I said, good collaboration tools and I’m always available during the work hours.

Laura Brandenburg: Yeah, and being clear about what you wanted. You created that boundary that opened up that opportunity for you.

Disha Trivedi: Yes. And they, the Sparx application, I think they were having a hard time finding somebody with the expertise on Sparx. I was able to bring that, and I’m not saying I’m unique, but I think…

Laura Brandenburg: We all are unique. You’re unique. Yeah.

Disha Trivedi: It was just the right match at the right time.

Laura Brandenburg: Yes, and you had the leverage of having that perfect intersection of skills that they wanted.

Disha Trivedi: Yes, exactly.

Laura Brandenburg: Thank you for sharing that. We get a lot of questions about that. It’s nice to offer people actual suggestions from people who’ve made it happen, now, several different times.

Disha Trivedi: One main tip would be discipline, definitely. I think that is the big thing. Because they cannot see you, but if you know that you’re responsible for things and if you are being proactive, it works out.

Laura Brandenburg: Anything else you would like to share before we move to our closing question?

Disha Trivedi: I think I would like to highlight what I already said, that BAs who are starting new, please don’t shy away from circumstances where there is ambiguity or there is chaos because you, as a BA, have that special superpower to ask questions and to make that difference.

So, I know that if somebody is starting off new, they might not, necessarily, have that confidence, but as a BA, you have that superpower.

Laura Brandenburg: Yeah, don’t shy away because that’s your superpower. And that’s where your value comes from, too. It’s jumping into some of those situations.

Disha Trivedi: Exactly. Exactly. I think that’s how I define success for me is to see how much value I am able to deliver.

Laura Brandenburg: That’s a great transition to our final closing question is what does success look like for you?

Disha Trivedi: Like bringing value and now that I’m talking and thinking about 10 years back when I started. When I started 10 years back, there was not that much standardization. IIBA® was trying to get this profession there. Different companies would have different expectations out of the role of BAs and that would also be blends of the BA role. There was a lot of bandwidth in terms of what a BA could do.

However, I think IIBA® has done a good job in standardizing this profession and so, now, when I’m working with a team, I’m always thinking how can, based on what I know, based on the tools that I have, the skills that I have, how can I deliver more to this project or to this initiative, is how I try to approach it.

Laura Brandenburg: That’s awesome. So, success looks like always delivering more value. I love that.

Well, thank you so much, Disha, for your time today. I know that people are going to take away a lot of tidbits and inspiration from your story. Congratulations on all these amazing roles you’ve had.

Disha Trivedi: Thank you so much. Likewise. You know you are the cornerstone of this whole journey. It started with you and it continues with you.

Laura Brandenburg: That’s great to have you on the team. Thanks, Disha!

Disha Trivedi: Thank you, Laura.

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