Today we meet Faraz Khan, an ACBA recipient and Salesforce Consultant, who recently was invited as a speaker for the Salesforce BA Summit alongside our founder, Laura Brandenburg, and Bridging the Gap instructor, Dr. Michael White.
What we love about Faraz’s story is that by going through The Business Analyst Blueprint® certification program, he was able to gain a technical skill that allowed him to find his unique place in the business world. Before the program, even though Faraz had a diverse career background, he desired to acquire the technical skills to make himself an expert in a particular field.
In this interview, you’ll discover:
- How Faraz was able to gain confidence and assurance of his work through the lessons learned in the program.
- The key challenges that Faraz faced when it came to his business analyst skill set, and how the program provided the clarity he needed to move forward.
- How Faraz uses the technical skills he learned in The Business Analyst Blueprint® certification program daily as a Salesforce Consultant.
- The main factor that allows Faraz to approach any work situation with confidence.
- Why Faraz recommends The Business Analyst Blueprint® certification program over any other training for business analysts.
Introducing Faraz Khan
Michael White: Hi everybody. I’m Michael White with Bridging the Gap. I’m one of the instructors here with our Blueprint program. Today we are here with Faraz Khan. He was a participant who successfully achieved his ACBA certification. Today he’s going to be sharing with us a little bit about his story, his background, and what he feels that he got from the program. With that said, welcome Faraz. Thank you.
Faraz Khan: Yeah. Happy to be here, Michael.
Michael White: Absolutely. All right. So I’m pretty excited to get you to share your story and learn a little bit more about you. So we’re just going to dive right on into our questions for today. First of all, just tell us a little bit about several months back before you started the program, tell us about where you were in your career and what you were hoping to get out of The Blueprint program.
Faraz Khan: Yeah. Sure. Prior to my current role, I had actually taken a bit of a non-traditional path coming out of college a little over 10 years ago. I decided to go the route of joining startups. Back in 2010, that was sort of not really the thing to do, especially in the midwest, but I took a risk. I said I want to be an entrepreneur. Let me go join a startup. That’s kind of what I thought.
I ended up spending a lot of time after that startup building my own business in real estate investing and internet lead marketing for quite a number of years and ended up back in some startups for a few years.
With that sort of, as a background, I kind of wanted to get further and further away from the entrepreneur route and the startups that I was working with. I wanted to go to either a more professional company or a bigger company. I needed to find a role where it allowed me to use my skills, but it’s also a role that I could attain, not coming in to become director of something. I was looking for a role and that’s where I found Bridging the Gap to help me figure out what it’s like to be a business analyst, and how do I get there?
Michael White: That’s pretty cool. And it’s interesting because the thing about business analysis is it’s one of those professions where you can always pull some type of transferable skill from another industry.
Like you said, you were an entrepreneur; you did in real estate, but there were still probably some skills that you utilized in those endeavors that you were able to utilize as a business analyst as well.
When you joined the program, tell us a little bit about some of your experiences with the modules as far as trying to transition from an entrepreneur to a business analyst or something of the like. Tell us about how some of those modules in the course helped you out with that.
Faraz Khan: When I was looking for something to help kind of prepare me for this kind of role. I wanted something hands-on, and I wanted something that I could touch and feel. I can study and get a certification, pass a test and get a certification. I can do that. But I needed something to point to that gives me confidence, but also something that I can say, I know how to do this thing, and that thing is important to that job.
Throughout the course, we had specific modules that are very specific to a particular skill that you need to have. For example, process diagramming. How do you map out a business process from start to finish? Oh, and by the way, how do you use the software to actually draw it out?
Concept okay, but the program actually, the homework assignments actually had me go through creating my own process diagram. Then sitting in on instructor-led sessions, we actually analyze other people’s processes. I never received feedback on my specific diagram. By learning the concept, doing the work myself, and then analyzing other people’s diagrams, I got a real holistic view of that particular skill and now act, that’s actually my favorite skill that I use in my job today…having a conversation and then mapping it out in a Lucid Chart is my favorite thing to do, and it’s so valuable.
The course really helped me get through…conceptually that’s easy, but the course really helped me get through some of those blockers of how detailed does it need to be? I thought it has to be so technical, but there’s a conceptual level, which is more in line with my business analyst skills and helped me kind of get unstuck and get over those little questions so that I can actually just start using the tool in my job today.
That’s probably the biggest thing that I benefited from the course, the hands-on exercises with feedback, and then analyzing other people’s work as well.
Michael White: Excellent. It sounds like in terms of a key takeaway from the course, what would you say that was for you? What was one of the major takeaways in terms of maybe what you learned from the program or maybe a takeaway in terms of what you learned from the program?
Faraz Khan: I would say the main takeaway, and this was a blocker for me sometimes is how there are different levels to business analysis. This process diagram example, you could have a technical diagram that has 20 different, 40 or 50 different steps in the process and it’s very mapped out to the exact thing that happens in the process or the software code.
That’s very difficult to do when you’re starting out, but it’s also difficult for your stakeholder and colleagues to use. It’s just overwhelming. Through the program, I started to understand that there are different levels of analysis. You could start with a conceptual level with five or 10 steps just to have conversations. When and how to go through those different levels, through the exercises, that has been really helpful for me. I would say that’s the biggest key takeaway I got out of the program.
Michael White: That’s absolutely powerful. You always want to consider who your audience is when you’re creating these deliverables. You don’t want to have a deliverable that’s overly technical if you’re speaking to the business. Right. You don’t want to have something that’s too general, so that people from the technical team don’t know what to build. You really need to know your audience, their appropriate level of detail, and how we can bridge the gap when we’re communicating that. Thank you for that.
Now tell us a little bit about where you are in your career now and how the program has helped you progress to your current state.
Faraz Khan: I’m currently a Salesforce Consultant. I very much play the business analyst role on our project teams.
Sometimes I’m leading the client through a project and sometimes I’m in support of a more senior-level consultant on a project. kind of getting here, before I was like, what role do I want? I zeroed in on this business analyst role. I heard a podcast, one of the Bridging the Gap podcasts where Laura interviewed Toni Martin and she said something that really kind of clicked for me. That she really enjoyed the business analyst role and the skills, but she wanted something that was more niche and focus so she could build a career around. She found the Salesforce path. I had heard of Salesforce and I decided to look into that path further.
Once I opened up that door, I said, hey, I can use, you know, I was a product manager and an entrepreneur in the past. I love the kind of work I do. I have these business analyst skills through this program, but also I can have a niche and a software called Salesforce where I don’t have to be a developer to actually build something.
And I said, well, this is it. This is what I want to do. And I want to be a consultant for other reasons. Low and behold full circle after going through the program, I ended up getting this Salesforce consulting position. Earlier this year I was able to speak at the Salesforce Business Analyst Summit hosted by Toni Martin. Laura was one of the other speakers at the conference as well. And here I am talking to you. I feel like, very much, I was on the other side. And now I’m speaking with my instructors, and you were one of my instructors as well. I feel really privileged to go through the program, create a vision, and now that I’m in this role, being able to live that vision on the other side. It’s hard to picture when you’re on the other side, but kind of cross that bridge.
Michael White: Yeah, there we go. There we go. It’s amazing how it all came together for you. You were involved with Bridging the Gap and then you get connected with Salesforce with Toni.
Toni was one of our instructors as well. I instructed you. I was also a speaker at the summit. Now you were a speaker at the summit. So it’s like this wonderful support system in this wonderful ecosystem within the business analysis space. I think that’s a very good testament of how omnipresent Bridging the Gap as well. I think that’s a wonderful story for sure.
Now, in terms of the outcomes of this, what does this mean for you? How would you say this has impacted you personally in terms of maybe your confidence or maybe just how you view your role or what you’re doing at Salesforce?
FARAZ KHAN: Before this course, it was like, I’m confident I’m smart, but I didn’t know my place in the job world. I’m not an engineer. I’m not a doctor. I don’t have a technical skill. I was just a business guy.
Although I’m not a programmer, I very much have systems thinking and I also have the personal side of it where I can speak to the business and understand the business as well.
What the course gave me is actually something I could consider a technical skill, which is called business analysis. Now I know that what I’m bringing to the table on a project team. That makes me feel very confident. I’ve worked in startups too, so I don’t have to talk over people to get my way.
I don’t have to hide behind my lack of self-confidence and let my ego take over. I’m actually confident in my skills and I feel like my ego has taken a step back. I feel more confident in my ability to have a long-term successful career no matter what job I’m in, because I know these base-level skills. I know I’m a business analyst. I know I can produce these kinds of assets and I know how to accomplish very specific things on these kinds of projects. That’s what it’s really kind of given to me, this course, and that’s what long-term business analysis; great. Salesforce, great. Consulting, great. I have a career path whereas before it was a very windy, windy path.
Michael White: That’s awesome. That’s great. I think that’s what we are here to do. We’re here to help give you a little bit of direction and clarity around what you want to do and understanding what the role is and how you can contribute to that role.
You definitely are a good fit for use case. I’m very happy to hear that.
I wish we were on the summit together. That would’ve been cool if we were speaking in the same line-up. You and Laura got to speak together, but if all of us were there together I think that would have been pretty cool.
Faraz Khan: Laura was in a separate talk. We were all in our own talks. That would’ve been really cool to be on a panel.
Michael White: For sure.
Well, in terms of closing, do you have any thoughts or recommendations for anyone who might be interested in going down a similar path, who might be interested in joining The Blueprint, or who might be interested in transitioning from an entrepreneur in sales and real estate to the business analyst career?
Faraz Khan: I’ve had this conversation with quite a few people. I’ve recommended this course very specifically, because I couldn’t find anything else that walks you through, start to finish, actual skills, and job training. These are actual things you’ll do in an actual job, plus you get a credential, which you can showcase it.
In terms of getting training and being confident in doing the skills to get a new job or to be better at your current job, I absolutely got that out of this course. That’s what I would recommend.
If you’re looking for actual training on best practices, not just hacking away at it in your day job and you don’t know if you’re doing it right or wrong, this is a good course for that.
And then business analysis, everything is touching technology now. Everything. Every process is being affected or supported by software. Whether you’re a business user or a business analyst product manager type person, even if you’re on the technical side or on the business side, being able to articulate what you want or what the customer wants or what the business wants through these tools that the course gives you will help you as a business person or someone more on the technical side as well.
I think you need this skill to move forward. How technology is impacting every, every sort of business.
Michael White: Thank you so much, Faraz. I’m sure your story is going to inspire a lot of people and it was such an honor speaking with you today. And again, I want to thank you so much for your time. On behalf of myself and the entire Bridging the Gap team.
To everyone out there, thanks for watching. We will catch you on the next round. Have a good one.
>>How to Learn the Foundational Business Analyst Skills (And Build Your Body of Formal Work Samples)
When you join The Business Analyst Blueprint® certification program, you’ll gain real-world experience in the industry-standard techniques and business analysis processes. You’ll create work samples vetted by experienced instructors and have the opportunity to become a credentialed business analyst as a recipient of the Applied Certification in Business Analysis™ (ACBA).