Today we meet Jennifer Hurley who joined The Business Analyst Blueprint® program with a team of business analysts, as part of pursuing her certification goals. As a single mom, a lot of training options are not feasible, and our flexible online training program gave her opportunities to expand her skills and get the credits she needed for certification.
In Jennifer’s experience, there were also some rather serendipitous learning moments when the training dovetailed nicely with her work as a technical analyst, and so she had access to our instructors for on-the-job coaching through business analysis work she hadn’t had the opportunity to do before.
For those who like to read instead of listen, here’s the full text of the audio:
Laura Brandenburg: Hello, and welcome. I’m super excited. I have Jennifer Hurley here with me today, who was a participant in the 2017 version of The Business Analyst Blueprint®.
Laura: Hi, Jennifer, thank you for being here.
Jennifer: Hello. Thank you for having me.
Laura: Of course, of course. I’m excited to connect with you because I know you have lots of professional goals and you are a part of a BA team that participated in The BA Blueprint, so it’s exciting to get that perspective. Maybe, to get us started, can you take us back to the period of this year that would have been the beginning of the year before we even started The Blueprint in February. Where were you at in your career and what were some of the hopes you had for this year so far?
Jennifer: Well, before that class, I was actually on a different team at my job. I was on a team of four business analysts. Shortly after, anyways, our VP decided to enroll us in these classes to give us just more training and to help move us towards getting certified as BAs. But, shortly after the class started, I ended up getting a different position, still under the same VP, but just a different team. I was promoted to a technical analyst, but I still do a lot of BA work. I thought this class is still going to be great for me to further define my role and hone my skills.
Laura: Okay, so lots of changes happened. What’s involved in that technical analyst role at your organization?
Jennifer: The role has kind of evolved over the last couple of months. The person who held this position before me, she kind of did a whole different job than I’m doing now. But the way that it’s kind of been sculpted over the last couple of months is we’re part of an advanced research team. Our team is the one that scopes out all the vendors and does all the research before we sign any contracts with vendors for any corporate projects.
Laura: That sounds really interesting.
Jennifer: Currently, it’s just the team of my manager and myself.
Laura: Okay. So, you’re forging some new paths for your organization.
Laura: Very cool. Was there anything that motivated you to join The Blueprint?
Jennifer: I’ve been doing BA work for five or six years at my job, but it’s very like, we have like a very narrow scope of the work that we do. We were just, mostly, working on our digital banking team, which is online and mobile banking. That’s really all I’ve done as far as in my business analyst role. It was exciting, to me, to be able to see a broader scope of it and know that we could work towards getting certified down the road. Just because, on the job experience is great, but adding a certification and courses, and all that to your resume, even if you don’t plan on, necessarily, leaving, is awesome to have.
Laura: Right. Pure security move for sure.
Laura: Did you have any trepidation about moving forward with the program?
Laura: Great. Have you done online learning before, by chance?
Laura: Okay. So, kind of familiar with the online learning, or virtual online learning?
Jennifer: Yeah, definitely.
Laura: Very cool. So, you mentioned that you moved into this technical analyst role and that happened soon after the program started. How would you describe where you are now? What kinds of shifts?
Jennifer: How would I describe where I am now?
Laura: Yeah, in your career. Yeah.
Jennifer: I think I’m still trying to…well, I feel like I’m finally starting to get a handle of what my role is now. It takes a while to get your feet under you, but I feel like I’m finally getting to see like this is what I’m supposed to be doing. That’s a big peace of mind for me because I was on my last job for so long that I felt so comfortable and I was very knowledgeable in it because I had done it for so long. Coming into something new, I felt like I was not as knowledgeable, and it was a little bit intimidating. But now I feel like I’m getting up to speed and I’ve ramped up, and now I see where I need to go.
Laura: There’s always that adjustment part that you go through with a new job. And you were doing that and doing a training program at the same time. You had a lot of pieces happening.
Laura: In The Blueprint, we have three modules – the business process analysis, the use cases, and data modeling. Did any one of those stand out to you that had a bigger impact or that applied to what you were doing directly in your new role?
Jennifer: Use cases and Wireframes looked like the second one, right?
Jennifer: That one, I had like tons of experience with that before and, so, it kind of reaffirmed what I was doing, and it gave me more expansion into that. So, that was nice. But then data modeling, that one hit home for what I do now. I was working on a project for one of our projects we’re looking at implementing at a data warehouse and it was like I used a lot of the things from the third module to gather the data that I needed for the data warehouse. And from just putting in, for some reason, I cannot remember the terminology right now, but like the…
Laura: Data dictionary.
Jennifer: Yeah, the data dictionary. So, just having stuff like that, the dictionary, and the glossary, it was like exactly what I was doing at the exact same time that I was doing it. I was like, well, this is weird. I’m like literally doing this is real life right now and learning about it. So, it’s kind of helpful. And it made it a little bit easier because I had never done that before in my job, so, it was nice to have a like a coach helping me with it.
Laura: It’s weird how those things work out. That’s beautiful because I always do encourage people to apply those techniques at work, and sometimes that can be a little challenging if you don’t have the exact type project at the right time. You kind of have to work things around it so you do get that experience. But it’s nice it lined up perfectly for you.
Jennifer: Right. I know. I was like, wow, this is great. This is exactly what I needed right now.
Laura: How did it feel to have that learning guiding you through a new task at work? How was that different than things that had maybe happened in the past?
Jennifer: It was helpful. It was nice to have, like to learn the information as I was doing it and realize, and then, also, for the stuff that I had done previously, like wireframes and use cases and stuff like that, it was nice to kind of get like a different perspective on it. So, my world has only been online and mobile banking, so, when I’m seeing the information on different examples that you called out in the material, it was nice to see kind of a different example, like a different perspective. That was helpful for me, too.
Laura: Awesome. Thank you. I know you attended a few of the live sessions, right, but not all of them. Is that correct?
Jennifer: Yes, I did mostly the recorded ones.
Laura: Right. Which is fine. That’s why we make recordings available, too. What impressed me about your experience as I looked back through, you were on every time, like your workbook was in right away, you kept up with everything on schedule. You kind of just kept ahead of the course. What strategy did you use to make sure that happened and you stayed engaged?
Jennifer: Well, I have been through college before. So I’m aware of how stuff can back up and everything. But more importantly, I would say just like in life, in general, I just try not to get too far behind on stuff because I know the more you procrastinate, something is inevitably going to come up and then you’re, literally, going to have no time because something comes up. It always does.
I just tried to stay ahead of it, so I wouldn’t have so much to do. When I had down time, if I’m just at my desk and I’ve finished my work or whatever, I would try to catch up on it here and there and just make sure that I was just trying to stay ahead of the game, so I wouldn’t have 12 live sessions to go back to.
Laura: Yes. And that, I know, that probably feels like the most natural thing in the world for you do. I get that. You’ve got to stay ahead of things, right? But I would say that something that is, not unique, but you see it across some participants, but that’s a special skill that you have to just get ahead like that and to be thinking forward and anticipating the bad things to happen as opposed to just hoping it all works out in the end.
So, a little feedback. Something you’re probably particularly good at that comes naturally to you. It does take quite an investment to complete a 36 credit course. It’s a pretty significant amount of time and energy that goes into that. Thank you for that.
Anything else you would like to add or strategies you’d want to share to somebody else thinking about making an investment in The Blueprint?
Jennifer: No, I don’t think so. I don’t really have anything to add. I really like the written material. I’m actually a better learner by reading and seeing it myself. It’s hard for me to listen and really absorb all the information.
I did like one of the ones on the third module. I think it was like with the ERD. There was a girl on there who was presenting her material and she did a really good job, and I thought that was really helpful how she presented her work. Again, it was like a new perspective of something else and it was very clear to me. I was like, oh, I really am getting this right now. So, I really liked that.
And I really like, I got very quick feedback every time I submitted my work. On my last workbook, Doug gave me feedback and his was fast and very good, too. His comments were clear, so I was able to make an adjustment and then send it back. He was like, “Whoa, that’s like a fast turnaround time. Good job.” That was nice, too.
Laura: Yeah, thank you for sharing that. We feel like the instructors do work hard to get that feedback to people. And Doug does a lot of the reviews. Do you feel like you’d be in a different place today if you hadn’t chosen to make the investment and the time and energy that you did?
Jennifer: Probably. I mean, I probably wouldn’t have any hours to go towards the certification. There’s just so much training out there and you never know what’s going to be good or how easy it’s going to be to take it, and sometimes it’s just not possible to attend a class.
I have a small daughter and I can’t just take off and go to class and rearrange our whole life. I’m a single parent, so it’s not really that easy. Having an online class is something that it’s nice to be able to attend. I’m really glad I was able to do it. It was a good opportunity for me.
Laura: Thank you so much. I’m glad that worked out, too. That is part of my mission is to make this accessible and flexible. Of course, you have to do the work and make the time. But to be able to use those pockets of time is powerful, too, so thank you for sharing that.
Any more thoughts before we close things out?
Thank you, again, Jennifer, for sharing your insights.
Jennifer: Thank you. I appreciate you taking the time to ask me about the course, too.
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).