Today, I’d like to share a course participant success story with you.
Munzolli Tower, from the New Jersey area, is a business analyst with a business background. During the Spring 2019 session of The Business Analyst Blueprint®, he interviewed for and receive an internal promotion to Senior Business Analyst within a new department in his company.
Munzolli walks us through exactly how he achieved this promotion, and how important it was for him to be able to speak to his key business analyst skills (and not just business expertise) with confidence to secure this new role.
Connect with Munzolli Tower on LinkedIn
For those who like to read instead of watch, here’s the full text of the video:
Laura Brandenburg: Hello, and welcome! Laura Brandenburg here from Bridging the Gap, and I’m super honored and excited to be speaking with Munzolli Tower today. Munzolli is from, or living in New Jersey now but grew up in Michigan, like I did, or has family in Michigan, like I do. Munzolli, first of all, thank you for being here.
Munzolli Tower: No problem. Thanks for inviting me, having me on, and just being able to share my story.
Laura Brandenburg: Yeah. I’m excited, too. There are some pieces that I know from the things that I’ve seen in the group, and there are some things that I’m sure I will learn in our conversation today. So, if you could just take us back. You were part of the spring 2019 session of the Blueprint. You joined in January/February. Where were you in your career in January/February of this year?
Munzolli Tower: Up to that point in my career, it was a little chaotic for me. The company I’d worked for, for about ten years, had recently just sold their casino division to a Canadian country. So, I was shipped off to that company, and it was a whole different world, different processes, different methodology in how they work.
It was really an adjustment period there. Time to say, “Everything is going to be up in the air. Let me see if I can learn some new skills or fine tune some of the skills I already have that will help me along the way.” There were just a whole bunch of moving parts at the same time.
Laura Brandenburg: So lots of change in your organization. You’ve been a BA for a while, though, correct?
Munzolli Tower: I have. Unofficially, I guess you could say I was really doing it and not really knowing I was doing it. I just sat on projects and was sent to represent the group, so I did so. Then, I had the chance to meet with a certified BA. Just running around because they’d just gotten hired, and they asked me, “What do you do?” So I say, “This is what I’ve been doing up to now, but mainly, recently I’ve just really been hammered and involved in project work and representing the groups in this way.” He’s like, “Really? I do the same thing.” So then, he introduced me to IIBA and told me about the certification and from there, it just really took off from that point.
Laura Brandenburg: So, you have more of a business background than a technical background?
Munzolli Tower: Yeah.
Laura Brandenburg: You were a business subject matter expert that ended up being on the projects? That’s how a lot of people roll into business analysis.
Munzolli Tower: Oh, yeah. That was definitely my path.
Laura Brandenburg: All right. What were your expectations when you joined The Blueprint? You mentioned you were in a state of chaos looking to improve your skills?
Munzolli Tower: Mm-hmm.
Laura Brandenburg: And also, you’re on your path to certification now. Is that correct?
Munzolli Tower: No, I actually got those. I got my CBAP, PMPs, CSPO, and CSM.
Laura Brandenburg: All right! So, you’re a very well credentialed business analyst. What were your expectations going into a program like this with all those credentials still behind you?
Munzolli Tower: Really, I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t just the area I worked in, where I had a lot of subject matter expert knowledge. I really wanted to make sure I was good in business analysis. So, my expectation was to ensure that the processes I was using spoke to being able to be transferable to any industry and organization. To learn more, you had Data Modeling section or module that really interested me. I had a little exposure but not a whole lot, not as much as I wanted. So that was another one.
Laura Brandenburg: That’s an area that a lot of BAs don’t get exposed to until there’s a project that needs it, and then you can feel like you’re in a sink-or-swim situation.
Munzolli Tower: Yeah. Exactly.
Laura Brandenburg: Is it something that you’ve used now in your work?
Munzolli Tower: I actually have. I used it in the Canadian company, where I had just recently switched from. That was actually perfect timing.
Laura Brandenburg: Are you able to share a little bit about that project? I think it’s always interesting to hear about what projects were like, different kinds of projects that BAs work on.
Munzolli Tower: For that one—just trying to refresh or remember the details. I guess I could probably put it to a better project: the one I’m currently working on now for a company. I really had to go through and understand a particular file where they’re sunsetting one, I guess you could say, accounting system or collection system, and they’re moving the details to a newer, more robust system. So, I had to actually trace the file and map the data from the original one to the new one, and the fields were way smaller than the new one.
I had to actually…I guess you could say one of the fields where you make a pledge to make a payment, in that…it’s not quite configured yet to…well, the two isn’t quite developed to be able to pull that data into the new system correctly. So, I had to work with this group and discover a workaround for that. With the workaround, we decided that it’s best to append the data to another file and section with just a couple of tags.
That data modeling course pretty much gave me the mindset to understand how the systems will relate and pretty much get it done in a much easier fashion than I probably would’ve normally.
Laura Brandenburg: Yeah, and avoid a ton of issues, too, because when you mentioned that workaround, discovering—even though you’re still using a workaround—discovering that earlier in the process rather than…my husband does a lot of data migration type stuff, and a lot of times, people are like, after it’s live, “Well, wait a minute. Where is this data?” That’s a big…you prevented so many issues down the road, so that’s pretty phenomenal.
Munzolli Tower: Yeah. Working with more senior BAs who had been in the company longer, it was just really helping me to be able to speak the language and communicate in a clear way.
Laura Brandenburg: Yeah. Are there any wins from the program that stand out to you?
Munzolli Tower: Really making sure everything speaks the same language. I worked with Doug, and he really fine tuned mine, and I think I would have little subtle differences that he would immediately pick up. He made everything more succinct and easier to read in flow. I think throughout each of the three modules, he helped me find opportunities to make sure everything is absolutely aligned.
Laura Brandenburg: Right. The language, and that it’s a tight and clear document? Yeah.
Munzolli Tower: Absolutely.
Laura Brandenburg: And I know one of the things he shared about you in our recap was how you really reworked some of your models and really just jumped into the learning opportunity and received the feedback and worked through it and showed up in the instructor hours and asked questions and really approached it with that investment mindset, as well.
Munzolli Tower: Definitely. To me, I wanted to make sure that I did everything that I possibly could to understand and fix the problem before I came and tried to elicit more help and information. I understood that it was a big goal to me.
Laura Brandenburg: Awesome. Well, thank you for sharing that, and I’ll be sure to pass that on to Doug, as well. Along the path—I actually don’t know if it was related to The Blueprint or not—but throughout the program, you actually found a new job and were promoted into, or you moved into a senior business analyst role. That’s correct, right? Can you tell us a little bit more about how…was it a promotion in your company or a new company? How did that come to be?
Munzolli Tower: It was actually a promotion within a new company. I worked for Canadian company, and now I’m with Fiserv, which is an American company. Really just understanding and being able to pull some of those details, some of the information from the course, like the processes, being able to probably discuss more with them about different entities and go into a little more detail about the use cases.
I used them, in a sense, in the past, but Doug really challenged me on a bunch of my assumptions and the way I used to go about doing them. I fine tuned my expectation, though, and I was able to speak better and more in depth and apply it to more situations when going through the interview. The job interview process was a lot more thorough than I remember since I’ve been out of that process for, up until now, about ten or so years. So, that was definitely a win.
Laura Brandenburg: Yeah. BA interviews do tend to be pretty in depth like that, so if you’d been interviewing for maybe more of a business role and hadn’t interviewed as a BA before, that is a big part of it because I think sometimes employers don’t really know what they’re looking for. So, they just keep asking questions until they get that level of confidence in a candidate. Is this the first job that you applied for that you got?
Munzolli Tower: Well, I applied internally when I was working at US Bank. Originally, my role was kind of like a structure financial analyst, in a sense, with them throwing me on different projects. Then I transitioned and applied for a business analyst role within the company. That one was my first interview, but you’re already inside the company, so it’s not as thorough as going to another company.
Laura Brandenburg: So, it was an internal?
Munzolli Tower: Yeah, the first one.
Laura Brandenburg: Nice. Well, good. I’m glad to hear that there was a connection there and that the confidence you had in your skills was a big part of that, as well. I guess a couple more questions have come up. You’ve been really generous with your advice and your feedback. Somebody going for what you’re…to follow in your path into more of a senior business analyst role, what are some of the general tips and suggestions you might give to them? What do you think were some of the keys to moving along that path for you?
Munzolli Tower: Honestly, the thing that really stood out to me is really in the beginning. When I first started in the company, they would say “Well, we need help here. We need help there.” Just really getting that exposure to the different parts is instrumental. As they believed in my skills and the work I was doing, putting me in different projects really built up my confidence at that point. It’s really just sometimes seeing that little subtle opportunities that may feel like extra work at the moment really pay big dividends later on.
Laura Brandenburg: Right. So saying, “Yes,” to the things that came up along the way?
Munzolli Tower: Yes. Some were really difficult, really time consuming, being there really late on a Friday night in the summertime when you’d much rather be out doing something nice. Those things really set the foundation for what I’m doing now.
Laura Brandenburg: Right. So, you were able to combine the skills with this track record of contribution and going to the next level in your organization.
Munzolli Tower: Yep. If I really had to bottom-line it, I would say just doing those things gave me a subject matter role, in a sense. It exposed me to more of the different areas and being able to support and understand the processes from their side. From that, just being able to communicate that well and in a way that’s helpful to the people who are going to need your skills and your abilities.
Laura Brandenburg: Awesome. If you hadn’t invested in The Blueprint, where would you think you might be today?
Munzolli Tower: If I didn’t invest…that is a tough one. I would probably be a BA. I don’t know if I would be quite as polished because given the fact that you’re able to take real world work so that when I work on my projects, I can do it right. Then, you know, I’m putting my best effort, but then you refine and perfect that process even further.
It’s kind of like a fast track, in a sense.
You’ll still make progress. You can definitely make progress on your own, but it’s just the time invested in getting to where you want to get can be dramatically sped up just by having people who are…even if you’ve been doing it for a while, you may find a process that works for you, but just having different groups of people who have been doing it in different areas and being able to fine tune and get different perspectives really helps to get you in a better place.
Laura Brandenburg: Yeah. Thank you for that. I just want to honor the investment you’ve made in yourself with the time and the financial commitment., and obviously, with the investment you’ve made in your work and constantly going to the next level. That takes courage and discipline and perseverance, and that’s what got you to where you are today. Thank you for that. We really need BAs like you, and you’re going to inspire a lot of people today. Any last words before we close? Anything you want to make sure that you share?
Munzolli Tower: It’s definitely possible. A lot of times I was told, “You probably won’t be able to do this,” or, “Maybe you should look in a different area.” A lot of times, myself, I didn’t really see the path forward, but as long as you keep pushing forward, eventually something will break, and it will happen. To me, it was really just finding the right piece that connected everything together. From there, everything just took off.
Laura Brandenburg: I love it. I had one more question since you were sharing that. What does the next step look like for you now?
Munzolli Tower: For me, the next step is being able to master this process and teach it to someone else. Get them to where they want to be, understand where they are. Kind of like what you guys have been able to do for me, understand my strengths, my weaknesses and craft situations that will put me in a better place to help understand what I’m doing and be able to do that for someone else.
Laura Brandenburg: That’s awesome. I love it. That’s the ripple effect of one BA helping another. A great profession for that. Well, thank you so much for your time, and I can’t wait to see you…well, it’s great to see you succeeding in this position and also be teaching others. That’s an amazing thing to hear, so thank you for sharing that. Thank you for being part of Bridging the Gap.
Munzolli Tower: Thank you for having me.
Laura Brandenburg: Thanks!
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).