In this interview, Pieter Pretorius from South Africa shares how he went from an operations role to a business analyst, by leveraging an opportunity to be a subject matter expert on a project to get familiar with the techniques of business analysis. Pieter’s story shows us how important that first step is – stepping up and getting involved in any sort of change project in your organization – and then relentlessly improving yourself and your skills.
Laura: Why did you decide to pursue a business analysis career?
Pieter: I obsessed about being part of a team that brings about change to the “world”, rather than struggling with day-to-day challenges and performing the same activities every day. I wanted to be part of the A-Team that solves the “problems”.
Laura: What was your job search process like? What challenges did you face along the way and how did you overcome them?
Pieter: In South Africa, there is a real need for quality business analysts with experience, something that I have plenty of. Searching for a business analyst job in South Africa is not that hard, but you need to ensure that you pick the “correct” company you want to work for. Remember that you want to build a business analyst career, and many companies offer business analyst positions but your day-to-day activities are everything but business analysis.
Laura: How did you end up in your first BA position? And what’s it been like so far?
Pieter: I was in operations and was assigned as a subject matter expert (SME) to a change project in my business environment. I interacted a lot with business analysts and was fascinated with how they went about bringing change to our environment (for the better). An opening was coming up in the change team for a BA and I told myself this is something I wanted and nothing will stop me from grabbing that position. The rest is history. 🙂
In all honesty, being a business analyst is fun and hard work. You constantly learn and you constantly have to change your mindset and the way you approach a project. Everything you do is unique to that situation. But you meet so many people and you really build a network.
Laura: What do you consider as the keys to your success?
- Being passionate about business analysis.
- Always pushing myself to be better.
- Delivering quality work, rather than quantity.
- Striving to know and understand the business/client environments.
- Asking questions when I did not know, rather than making assumptions.
- Building a network of professionals who I know I can go to, to ask questions about a specific subject.
- Building trusting relationships with stakeholders (i.e. if you say you are going to do something, do it).
- Always learning and striving to know more.
Laura: What recommendations would you make to others looking to follow a path like yours?
Pieter: Get involved in change projects in your environment.
- As an SME (subject matter expert) you can provide input to the expected change and you will be engaging with the business analyst on a regular basis. You will be in a great position to observe and learn tasks and techniques performed by the business analyst.
- Or simply as an observer where you can watch and learn the tasks and techniques performed by the business analyst.
There are also many great websites out there where you can read and learn about business analysis if you are not in the position to do one of the two points above.
>>Read More Success Stories
Tracy’s story is one of many BA career transition success stories here at Bridging the Gap. We’re honored to have had many readers tell us more about how they leveraged their professional experience to get started in business analyst job roles.