What a 17-Year Career Path in Business Analysis Looks Like: Stephanie Cracknell

It’s my honor today to introduce you to Stephanie Cracknell, one of Bridging the Gap’s early course participants who has come a long, long way in her career since participating in our programs back in 2013. She shares her career trajectory with us, along with her keys to success.

In this interview, you’ll discover:

  • How Stephanie moved from London to Denver and then to Maine, stepping up in her career with each geographical move.
  • How Stephanie was a business analyst long before she knew it was a “real job.”
  • The tools and techniques Stephanie leveraged to bring BAs together at every organization she worked for.
  • Why it’s totally normal to be an introvert and a business analyst (a lot of us are!).
  • Why Stephanie chose to pursue the CBAP and the PBA, but not until later in her career, and the opportunities that opened up to her.
  • How she only just recently earned an undergraduate degree – so she’s been an official BA, in leadership roles, changing companies several times over 15+ years, without an undergrad.
  • And so much more!

 

Laura Brandenburg: Hello, and welcome, everyone! I’m here with Stephanie Cracknell today who lives in Maine in the U.S. and she is one of our course participants from back in 2013 – 2015. I think you took almost every one of our courses before we had what’s called The Business Analyst Blueprint® training program today, which kind of packages everything together.

You’ve just done amazing things in your career and you’ve always, since then, been a great supporter of Bridging the Gap, and we’ve never really gotten to sit down and have a conversation. So, I’m really excited to hear about all that and thank you for being here today.

Stephanie Cracknell: Thank you for asking.

Stephanie Cracknell

Laura Brandenburg: Maybe take us back to where you were in your career before. I know you were in a different country and it looked like you were doing some business analysis back in 2011 – 2012 range.

Stephanie Cracknell: Gosh, I think I’ve been in that role since somewhere around 2003. It wasn’t, especially, really if you told some of your business analysts; it’s like, “So you manage projects or something?” It wasn’t really…I didn’t have like a job description for it, per se, at that point. I never knew, really, what it was. I worked in IT and it was, “Hey, there’s a need for a good quality system,” “We need to revamp our website.” So it was how do you go about that? It’s like, “Okay.” You’re going through all the steps you normally would do – understanding what the problem is, understanding where they’re trying to get to, understanding your audience, and things like that, but it wasn’t really a title for it. I think I started doing that ages ago. I really loved it and I think once I was at the company property in London for about eight years. That was at the point where I was kind of telling and people were understanding that was a real job.

Laura Brandenburg: You have a real job. Right.

Stephanie Cracknell: And it wasn’t, “Oh, you work in IT? Can you fix my laptop?” So, yeah, I had worked in…I had worked for a company for quite some time and I was ready for a switch, a business analyst job. It was the very first BA they’ve ever had in 100 years of existence. So it was a chance to make the job my own, but also because I was kind of what you would call homegrown talent without any training in terms of this as a BA.

I didn’t realize that this was really a practice that was so widespread. I had gotten involved with the BCS which was kind of the UK, the governing body for business analysis and things like that. And also IIBA in London. I’d gotten involved with them as I realized at the beginning. I wanted to have my practice be something a bit more standard and something that was, as you go to a new company. You can say that you’re doing it and plus, I wanted to put you in a company that I was working for.

At the Royal British Legion, I set up the BA practice there. But again, there’s always this element of doubt, “Am I doing it appropriately? Am I a fraud?”

Laura Brandenburg: You’d been doing it for 9 years and you had that feeling.

Stephanie Cracknell: Yeah. Exactly. And I had taken a course or two with the BCS just towards the BA diploma, again, to add an element of rigor. He’s just putting into practice there a legion, so I wanted to make sure I get that whole complex about…and I look at other BAs and get, “Am I really doing this the right way?” I thumbed through that and it was still, there’s still that lingering doubt even though I had led other ways.

I reached out to you. I’d been following you for quite some time and you offered a lot of knowledge to BAs for free. It was how you do things. I read articles about better ways to do and I had been following you for some time.

I reached out to you about the time that I was moving back to the U.S. and then there was this panic that, “Do they do things differently there?” There’s no difference in language or whatever, but is there a difference in practice? So, I was kind of freaking me out.

And you actually helped me put my resume together in a way that you give me a critique and how it would even be fed into people could read their, sort of, auto-feed, but also some advice on content. I totally revamped my resume based on help from you and I think when I got back to the U.S. I had a job within a week of getting to Denver. Obviously, something worked.

Laura Brandenburg: I feel like I want to focus a little bit into that being the first BA in a company and feeling a little bit like I think you said, a fraud. Right? There’s that internal confidence that I think is so important. Yes, your resume was important, but your interviewing and how that confidence came through was also very important there.

What was it like being the first BA at a company?

Stephanie Cracknell: It’s exciting and daunting at the same time. I was excited about the fact that I could make the job my own, but you also feel that it’s a panic station. Just like, “Oh my God, what does a proper BA do?” “Is there something I’m not doing?” “Is there a skill that I don’t have?” You can read all the books in the world that you want, but it’s understanding, “Do I have the right skillset for it?”

Again, even after sort years of doing it at that point, it was really understanding am I using my techniques? Because if you go into the IIBA and look at the BABOK, for example, it could be very overwhelming for someone that is trying to get into a practice and put in an element of rigor within the foundation.

Consistency of practice across what you do and what the other BAs do so when they come in, they’re not having to go through the same experiences that you are in terms of, “Do we set up templates?” and things like that. That was, again, something I looked at. The templates were incredibly useful. One; to have it because, again, there are certain things that you don’t know what you don’t know. You get ideas from that, “Am I doing things appropriately?” Okay great. Here’s a template.

Sometimes it helps stop the panic in terms of okay, good. This is the kind of information that I’m recapturing, but here is it in a format that makes a bit more sense. You were able to add that to your toolbox. Yeah, it’s both exciting and daunting at the same time.

Laura Brandenburg: Was that at the point when you took the courses, too, was right when you were in that first, like you were the first BA in this organization that was used to BAs. So like the course worked helped kind of give you that boost of confidence?

Stephanie Cracknell: It did really because that’s where your, “Okay, is there something, another way that I can be doing this? Is there another way I should be approaching it?” Especially if there’s kind of a real-world scenario to it where you and another BA would work off on another. I’ve kind of seen that back and forth and it’s not; it’s real-world scenarios. It’s getting that kind of feedback from another person that you’re seeing the back and forth, answering certain questions, whether it be elicitation, or what have you, or if it’s a particular technique.

Laura Brandenburg: That’s the part of the program that is…well, a lot of things are still the same, but that’s become an even bigger part of our program; it’s that back and forth with an instructor and helping people figure out how to apply it in their current world.

Stephanie Cracknell: That’s invaluable.

Laura Brandenburg: Yeah.

So, take us into Denver, then. You said you found a job within a week. So you knew you were moving to Denver; like that was separate.

Stephanie Cracknell: Yes.

Laura Brandenburg: Then it was like, “What am I going to do here?” I remember some communication. I was in Denver at the time.

Stephanie Cracknell: Yes, absolutely. That was just so bizarre. You were like, “Oh my gosh, I’m here.” I’m like that was fantastic.

It was about that time that I moved there and you were actually working on your first book that you shared with me and I have since used that with other BAs at subsequent companies. But yeah, I was sort of panicked. It was maybe a different way of doing things. Not that there’s a difference or anything.

I know that the practice in terms of the IIBA was one that wasn’t as prevalent as it is in the U.S. It is now, but it wasn’t at that time. I was kind of worried that maybe there were other things that I should be doing. And, again, as a BA, you always want to be learning. I think we’re naturally curious. We’re always trying to make sure that we’re getting new skill sets and learning new things just so we can offer a better value to people that we’re working with. That’s kind of what I’ve done when I’ve taken some of your courses.

I think, also, I didn’t have any agile experience at that point either. I know one of the courses I had taken and I want to say it’s User Stories, Use Cases, sorry, you then offered an agile version after it because agile was a little bit more in use at that point, or probably quite a bit more pervasive in the U.S. I then went back and did it. I don’t have that experience and somebody that I was working for I was trying to get their agile practice up and running. So, I’m like, “Okay, great.” I need to really up my game there because then, again, you’re panicked. I’m like, “Okay,” now I figured I was a bit more comfortable in the old way of doing things in Waterfall and now we’re agile and all of a sudden it’s scary.

Laura Brandenburg: That’s a big thing that still comes up from people, I think, feeling like agile is new or scary. I remember feeling that same way my first agile project as a business analyst. It’s like you get into it and you’re like, “Oh,” so much is still the same. Did you kind of get to that, or do you still feel like it was a very big departure?

Stephanie Cracknell: It really depends on what kind of company that you work for. I’ve been in financial services now for a number of years and I think there’s an element of rigor to the financial services practice and the regulatory things that mean that there’s more documentation than is standard with agile. I think that’s something that you’ll never get away from. It’s either you’re having to keep your records for 7 to 10 years and there has to be that kind of paper trail. I think that probably in that case, I don’t like to say it’s less agile, but it is. It matters. You’re bringing kind of a hybrid approach. To me, that was less of a departure, so it wasn’t as, okay, completely different. Now I’m working in completely agile. It’s still financial services so there’s a little bit of documentation, but that’s kind of an after-the-fact kind of thing we notice is more standard.

You realize then financial services makes you sometimes document for document’s sake. You realize just how less risky it is if you are doing it appropriately.

Laura Brandenburg: Put on the thinking cap.

Stephanie Cracknell: Yes. Absolutely.

Laura Brandenburg: And so you went from lead to manager there, too. Were you setting up a new practice in this first company in Denver?

Stephanie Cracknell: When I first came to Denver, I worked for a nonprofit. I worked for Mercy Housing and they had a practice, but it was more, the folks that worked there kind of were homegrown talent. They came from somewhere else in the business. They come from somewhere else in the business and they had an aptitude for it and moved into a team and started doing the job and having the title without a rigor behind it in terms of, “Hey, this is how we’re going to do it.” It was kind of left to the approach of the particular individual. We decided we wanted a bit more rigor there as well just so, again, so there’s a common approach across the BAs that were there.

Again, we set up that kind of practice there so they went hand-in-hand with the project management practice. It was nice that they realized that just because you’re a BA doesn’t mean you want to be a project manager when you grow up, and keeping those two separate so you weren’t going from one to the other. You had two distinct people in those positions.

Yes, we set up the practice there and, again, using the training and the use cases and the user stories and the requirements training as well, I used that with the BAs that were there so that they could see; to me, we cannot stress that enough with people to sing that back and forth. “Oh, right.” “I like how you asked that question.” “I like how you framed that or phrased that.” It was just invaluable for them to see how it was done. Again, not necessarily, not looking that I wasn’t that involved. It’s not like it was coming from me in terms of I’m telling you what to do. It’s, okay, seeing a third party and this is how they do it. That always helps. You’re not coming in as if you are trying to tell someone how they should be doing something. They’re seeing it from someone very well known in the industry and they’re good at the practice. So, it’s an easier; it’s a softer way to bring things in and to train people if you like that element of training.

Laura Brandenburg: Yeah. I hadn’t thought about it that way because it can be, especially, if they have more experience in that company. Right?

Stephanie Cracknell: Yes.

Laura Brandenburg: You can feel the outsider coming in to kind of just create a new way of doing things. But if you position it to an industry-standard or to a third like, as you said, a third party…

Stephanie Cracknell: To me, again, it’s you have the experience behind you. For someone to go and see, wait; you’ve been emboldened again. It’s someone that is very professional and very well known in the industry. To me it’s, “Hey I’m just passing on trying to…it’s already offered from someone else. So that, again, “Okay, cool. You’re just sharing what you know with me instead of telling me how I should do it.

Laura Brandenburg: Right. I love that.  Is there anything else you want to share about that before we kind of jump forward to whatever your next milestone might be?

Stephanie Cracknell: No, no. I think I’m good.

Laura Brandenburg: What came next?

Stephanie Cracknell: But I still felt like I needed to push myself and I wasn’t growing in the way that I wanted to in my career in terms of having bigger projects to work on and real challenges, you know, challenging projects and learning techniques and learning new technologies and things like that.

I went to work for financial services company’s tech center just south of Denver and that was probably where my biggest jump in career occurred. It was trial by fire. You came in and it was a massive change that they were going through understanding their customer journey and really revamping the way that they interacted. So understanding.

With the personas and things and the real…how are your customers coming to you and what are they looking for now? It’s that real-time where the whole Millennial generation where you’re really having to focus and change the way that you operate to meet the needs of a huge growing population down to investments and the way they and you interact. How they wish to interact with technology and kind of what they’re looking for.

It was just an amazing experience for me to work with just a driven group of people. Every day was a stretch. Not saying there weren’t days…there were days of panic, to be absolutely honest with you. There are sometimes when you’re learning new techniques you’re like, “Okay,” or you’re working with stakeholders that are 10 levels above you that you’re just rated it and figure out how you operate and how fast to approach it and things. I loved it.

Laura Brandenburg: It sounds like they had quite a sophisticated or mature way of doing what they were doing. Where in the past you were creating the standards. In this case you were learning how they wanted to do both. It sounds like business analysis and project management, possibly.

Stephanie Cracknell: Absolutely. Yes.

Laura Brandenburg: That could have been a big shift, but also a great learning opportunity.

Stephanie Cracknell: It was a huge shift. And oddly enough you brought the word “sophisticated.” The project was called “Sophisticated Client.” It was. It was looking at your products. Are your products still appropriate for everyone that’s out there? Are you interested in the needs of your clients? Things like that.

So when I started, I said, “Okay, so where are all the BAs in our group?” And they’re like, “Okay, well, you’re it.” I was part of the PMO at that time before they decentralized the PMO and I was part of the team that was basically sent out, like if it was any need across the organization. So you would have a departmental analyst that would do kind of your requirements within the groups and then we were a group that would come in and provide project management and business analysis, and things like that. Whatever the need was, that would be prioritized and dispatched to help out whichever team we could help. This was a massive program going across the company and across many different teams. Depending on who you spoke to, there was a different way of doing things.

Again, I worked with the team to get all of the BAs who were together in kind of a BA forum so that we could look at how we did things across the board. Were there ways of doing things on one team that was better than another? And not just the rigor across the organization, it was also sharing of technology, sharing of the knowledge that each of these teams had. So you had a lot of business analysts that were product owners that had such deep understanding of technologies and reporting…things like that. There was no way that as a generalist across the organization, you were just popping in to help, whatever. You wouldn’t have that knowledge unless you were kind of working hand-in-hand with the teams.

It was interesting to work with them and partner with them and then have this kind of relationship set up so that as you were working across the teams that there was some kind of continuity across what your end results were, what your artifacts and things like that, but also there was kind of that teamwork so that if you were, okay, you’re going to be put in this team for a little while to work on this project, it’s like, “Oh gosh, I don’t even know this technology. How am I going to get up to speed?” You had this relationship with those other BAs in order to learn that. You had those relationships, “Okay, great. Yes, I’m happy to help you out and let me give you some background on these folks or the technology we’re using,” or kind of anything you would need. It was a real partnership across the BAs after probably about a year or so of being there.

Laura Brandenburg: It sounds like wherever you’ve gone, you’ve helped bring the BAs together and have really been a champion for the role within your organization. Does that land with you?

Stephanie Cracknell: Yeah it does.

Laura Brandenburg: Not everybody does that. Some people would get into that role and just be like I’m going to worry about my thing. But you went and brought all those BAs together across all those different places and it also created a lot of great relationships for you to kind of get through whatever that learning curve.

Stephanie Cracknell: You’re the panic station. Anyone under five years at the company was like, “Oh, they’re…no.” Even after three years there, it was parts of the business that it was like a completely new territory. You’re always learning and each project you’re working on could be completely something new. Also, I think, to me, there’s always something to learn and it’s better. I think because I love what I do and I don’t ever see myself doing anything different until I can work for myself and raise dogs, you know, have a doggie daycare or something. I think it’s something that you’re always; you want to make sure that you’re building those relationships and learning new stuff at your company. The only way you do that is through the other folks in your team, you know, in teams.

Business analysts, I find, are the most helpful and friendly people no matter where you go. They always want to share. They always want to help train people. I remember when I was at this company – that’s where you and I probably met face-to-face at the IIBA meeting. Someone was talking about coming a BA and there was a gentleman at the company that I worked for who was very interested in it and didn’t have, you said, “I’m not sure if I have this skill set.” It was just like perfect timing.

You were speaking there and one of the things you were talking about were transferable skills. I’m like, “Oh, yes.” You’d ask for, at the beginning of the meeting, you asked for a volunteer. So I volunteered him, and he had to go up and bless his heart, he’s not at all shy thing, but yeah, he had to go up front with you and work through this. And you’re like, “Okay. Let’s get into what you do and understand what your transferable skills are.”

He’s quite a high up manager at our help desk. He’s very technical, but he had to work with quite a few and quite often there were people that would call him on his mobile to get help and things like that. He was very personable. And you did this kind of role play with him and questioned him on some other things that he could use as transferable skills and it gave him such confidence. Within, probably, four months, he took a BA role as a trial to see if it worked out and then it worked out really well and that was it for him.

Laura Brandenburg: I obviously didn’t know that. Yeah, I kind of, but I was piecing together the memory because I’ve done that at several chapters where we pull somebody up. There’s always some transferable skills. That’s amazing. What a great gift you gave to him to kind of give him that push.

Stephanie Cracknell: Yeah, I’m sure he didn’t think it at the time, but luckily it worked out. It got a new job and he loved it. He just needed that push and confidence to understand that, okay, these are my transferable skills.

Laura Brandenburg: That is awesome. That is the work of a true champion for you. What came next?

Stephanie Cracknell: Yeah, I think what we knew we wanted to move back to the east coast. We wanted to be by the water and Denver was not at all near the water. It just worked out my company was bought out by another company. I opted to take a package and it happened just around the time we were moving to Maine. I thought, “Well, we’ll just figure it out,” head out and just see what happens.

We are in Portland, Maine at the moment. I am, again, in financial services. I work in Portsmouth, New Hampshire for a lovely bank. In there, it was, for me, at that point, I think there are certain things that you find out as you progress in your career, what you want to do. So, I actually have two jobs at the moment. I’m working at a bank and I’m also, I start next month as an instructor for UC-Irvine in their BA Certificate.

One of the things I found out was that I’m teaching what I know, for what it’s worth. That kind of trajectory. I’m setting up a practice to teach people what I do and – not what I do, necessarily, but a big into BA skills because there are certain skills that I think are great in personality that you really need, if you want to be a business analyst. Then everything else outside of that you can learn.

One of those things when I was looking for a job, is one ….spent a lot of time on. But also the breadth of the projects that you’re working on, especially new technology, I love the idea of UI and UX. I’m learning that and other elements that I can learn.

We’re working quite closely where I am now with the UI and UX teams, and also working with junior BAs as well. I think that, in partnership with teaching, just being an instructor is that next step for me and just see where that takes me. I’d love to be a full-time instructor at some point. I love to get people excited about the role. But I don’t ever want to get too far away from it because I really do enjoy what I do. It’s getting involved in the community now, I think.

Where I am now is not as big a BA community as Denver or London, so it’s finding those pockets and getting involved. I think it is quite a social role even though I consider myself an introvert. I know quite a few BAs that are introverts. We are quite social, aren’t we? I know it’s a misconception. I’d heard in a webinar once that in order to be a good BA, you have to be an extrovert.  And that really worried me that people might get that wrong message.  At my last company, we had one of our UX designers is an incredible introvert, but he can be very social. He’s an amazing guy. So I had to give comment and give a whole thing about that, about you can be incredibly introverted all your life, but you can still do this role very well. You noted just how you set up your time and your schedule so that if you do need that time to decompress, you have that. I think that was the only other thing that I wanted to pass on as well.

Laura Brandenburg: Yeah, I think that’s so important. I’m also an introvert. I have a video on being an introverted BA because I get the same question. Somebody must have heard that same message somewhere. It created a little bit of a spiral in the profession. It’s like, no, no, no. Like totally, you do need to be able to talk to people and be a great communicator and all of those things, but introverts can still do that, too. It’s about where you get your energy from.

Today happens to be a day that I have a bunch of back to back things, but normally, I do not allow my schedule to have back-to-back meetings because I know I will be just completely depleted at the end of the day. Now, that is the sign of an introvert.

Then when I’m in the things, I’m great and I love it.

Stephanie Cracknell: Yeah, you fully get energy from it. It’s just after, you know, so I think we have two reasons here: because we have somebody to do meetings. It’s such a pull on the network. At work, we tend to stagger our meetings so they’re not starting, bang on the hour.  And it’s actually been a really good way to have that decompression time. Start at 15 minutes after the hour or…and 10 minutes early and then just have that time to…because a lot of times I’m taking notes and things like that. So I have time to…I love writing notes because, to me, I can’t type fast enough anyway, but so I have to kind of decompress, transcribe my notes if I need to electronically, and get ready for the next one.

Laura Brandenburg: Nice. Well, anything else that you would like to share? I guess the question I would like to ask you because you’ve had such this amazing…I’m doing this because I’m picturing UK to Denver, back to Maine. But that’s just a geographical aspect of it that, you know, you’ve had an amazing career progression and kind of different flavors. What would you advise to someone who’s following, who would like to follow in your footsteps in terms of moving into these more leadership type roles.

Stephanie Cracknell: Yeah, I guess for me, well, for anyone really, is understanding what you’re saying where your strengths are…and one thing I’ve really had to learn that is not at all natural to me is putting yourself out there in terms of letting people know what you’ve done, what you’ve accomplished.  And to me, I don’t know if it’s self-deprecation but it’s really difficult.

I am the type of person where I am happy to be part of a team and I don’t have to shout about what I’ve done. I’m happy to support other people. You’re doing the hard work and getting it done, but I’m happy, but I’m deflecting kudos for it and that is going to be one of your biggest things that will sabotage you in a minute. That’s the way in which you operate. I hate to say it, but it’s really you have to toot your own horn. That’s one of the things that, again, in England, it’s a different way of doing things and being a female.  I can’t deny that part of it as well. You have to look the way that you present yourself and the way that you work with the teams to be considered, especially in Financial Services because it is a male-dominated industry. To me, I had to really, and I’m always looking, whether it be interviews or what have you is how you frame things and how you quickly get to the point. Also, think being aware of other styles of people personality types.

I had, not an issue, but it was like, I felt like one of my bosses we just were not on the same page in our communication styles. We would speak and I’m like, okay; I feel like I’ve understood you and I come back and she’s like, “No. That’s just not quite it.” We finally had personality testing and genetics, and we published it across our team so you could see where people were on the scale. I found I’m very much in the weeds. I love the details, that kind of thing. And she was blue sky. I was like, “Oh gosh. Okay.” Then it was just like a light bulb and I said, “Okay, how can I communicate better with you because we’re in a disconnect. I want to understand how I can communicate and get you what you need, on a level that you need it. We came to a point where she’s like, “Alright, great. I don’t need all that detail. I know that you’re doing what you should be doing, so this is what you do.”

Again, it’s understanding, how you’re communicating with people and adjusting your style and understanding that they may not want to be in details with you. A lot of BAs are very detailed oriented.

Laura Brandenburg: As you start to climb up those levels, you take ownership of more of those details that you don’t have to communicate all of those details because you will lose your audience.

Stephanie Cracknell: Right. Very much so. Their eyes are glazed over. So, yeah, that’s been a big thing for me as well.

Laura Brandenburg: Yeah, so thinking about how you promote your work and your wins and sharing kind of your own kudos, essentially. And also how you’re communicating with other people is a great thing.

Stephanie Cracknell: Absolutely. One of the things I’ve noticed in the U.S. and I know it’s not the same everywhere, but certifications are big.

You know, it’s funny because before I decided to get my CBAP, you had a really good article on it about whether, is this something I need to do? I know you kind of weighed that out whether you really needed to do it. My instructor role came off the back that I actually had to pay my certification for the PBA and the IIBA CBAP. There are not a lot of people that do both. I wanted to see what the difference was between the two of them and that’s actually what persuaded for me to be able to teach this course.

Certifications, in some areas, are big. I finished my degree for myself. I’ve literally only finished it last year, but I didn’t necessarily do it for my education in that way. But always learning and always learning something new. Not just become relevant, but it’s more so that you’re keeping yourself sharp. There are techniques you learn from everything. I’m not necessarily sure that I want to be a UX designer, but I love elements of it and I love some of the things that come from it from the knowledge that you have, the research and things like that really help you in your role, and really help you because where I am now is incredibly smart. There’s always something new for them to work on so they don’t always have time to work on some things that you have. They might be smaller projects, so it’s nice that you can have that handoff. They’re more than happy to work with me and say, “Okay, great. You’ve made a really good start here. Let me just give you some advice on how to tweak that so that that’s going to give you what you need and we don’t need to be actively involved.

Laura Brandenburg: What point in your career did you get your certification?

Stephanie Cracknell: I’ve had, at the start of the probably in 20, gosh, when it first came out. I’m going to say, is that 2014?

Laura Brandenburg: Sounds about right. That was right after your coursework with us or kind of alongside. You used the course work to get that one.

Stephanie Cracknell: It was. And I, literally, that was part of the beta. And then I did the CBAP probably two years afterwards. I sort of read yours and that kind of put me off at first only because not that you put me off of it, but it was I knew the level of rigor and it kind of…the trickiness to the questions. Like, alright, I have to; it’s not that it put me off, but I knew I had to have the time to do the proper amount of study and preparation for it. So, I’m like, alright. I’ll put that off for, you know.

Laura Brandenburg: For people listening, I just want to emphasize, too, that this was after you were already in BA Leadership roles.

Stephanie Cracknell: Yes.

Laura Brandenburg: Where I see the misconception is that I need this feedback to get started. I need that certification in order to even start doing the role. But I think doing it, like, I did mine a bit later in my career. You did it kind of mid-career. Then it starts to open up more opportunity.

Stephanie Cracknell: It does.

Laura Brandenburg: It doesn’t hold you back from getting to where you’re going.

Stephanie Cracknell: No, especially starting out. One of the BAs where I work now wanted her CCBA.  Went for it. It made no difference in her career in terms of we’re not going to promote you based on it, but it shows a level of commitment to your career once you’re already in it. That it’s something that you’re continuing; you’re continuing your training. You’re continuing your progression in your career. I think it’s more…and not saying that there aren’t companies out there that hire based on that. But, for me, what I’ve seen is that it’s something that they chose that you’ll dedicate it to your career. It’s something that you want to carry on in that profession and it’s something that you want to add to your own…you want to add another level of rigor to what you do.

Laura Brandenburg: And just, because I want to make sure I heard you right. Did you say that just this past year you finished like what would be considered an undergraduate degree?

Stephanie Cracknell: I graduate November of 2019, CSU.

Laura Brandenburg: I get that question a lot as well about well, “I don’t have an undergraduate degree. Can I be a BA?” You’ve also proven that to be totally possible.

Stephanie Cracknell: Absolutely. And really, I’ve only got my degree for myself. It was a milestone for me. I’m like, “Alright, I’m turning 50. I want to have my degree.” I haven’t studied for 30 years and yeah.

Laura Brandenburg: Awesome. Alright. Well, thank you. You’ve been incredibly generous with your time and your thoughts and your shares, and think you’re going to inspire a lot of people. Thank you so much, Stephanie.

Stephanie Cracknell: Thank you.

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