How Do I Transition From an Intellectual Analyst to Business Analyst?

Reader Question: I have honed serious analytical skills in college and graduate school and used my analysis, synthesis, and synergistic skills to get jobs in a variety of fields. I had no idea people professionally analyzed until I started working with one who is coaching me to develop my resume. My question is — how do I make that transition from intellectual analyst to a business analyst?

Laura’s answer: I’m excited to receive this question. Although I, myself, never truly started a “career” as an intellectual analyst, I did pursue intellectual analysis degrees through undergrad, notably philosophy and English. In my first days as a business analyst I do remember looking back especially to my courses in logic. Well-analyzed requirements share some definite similarities with a proper logical argument.  Just as you look for intellectual cracks in an argument, you look for holes in your requirements where point A doesn’t quite get you to point B. As I advanced as a business analyst I started to find similarities between engaging with especially cryptic stakeholders and reading some of the more challenging philosophy texts. Hours spent each night struggling with the meaning of a few pages of Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, and Ricoeur come to mind.

But this is all really background. Your question is, how do I get there from here? I would recommend starting by listing your strengths as an intellectual analyst. A book such as GO Put Your Strengths to Work by Marcus Buckingham could provide a useful framework for evaluating your strengths. Once you’ve completed this self-assessment, start looking for specific transferable business analysis skills. Begin to see where you bring strengths from your intellectual and professional background and where you have gaps to fill to become a business analyst.

Most likely, you’ll need to learn the fundamental skills of business analysis and gain experience applying them in a real-world setting. To do so, you may need to start in a transitional job role that can lead to business analysis. Getting employed in an office setting would be the first step on our BA Career Roadmap and doing so in an educational environment might prove the most fruitful as your background would be particularly relevant.

The analysis will come naturally to you. The techniques from business analysis will give you the tools you need to become a proficient business analyst.

>>Start Your BA Career

Leverage a step-by-step process to start your business analyst career, regardless of your career background. How to Start a Business Analyst Career will walk you through the BA job role in detail, help you identify transferable business analyst skills, and hone your BA job search process. It’s available in print, PDF, Kindle, and Nook formats.

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  1. Analysis is analysis and honing those skills will be well reflected regardless of your title, your role, personal or professional life. I was talking to a friend about a position in his company and stated that I was not familiar with tool set (software package) they utilized. His response was, “I can teach any monkey to create reports, but not everyone knows how to analyze the data.”

    I have actually used this approach in several interviews and it has been successful in each one. Because of this, I have had the pleasure of working in multiple industries – and sight that as evidence of my abilities. If you have the critical thinking skill sets, you can learn any industry or application. Think about how often you have seen a SME promoted and they became completely lost at the next level. The ability to think through the level is paramount to your success.

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