Terry Mullins: Professional Growth Boost

Today, we meet Terry Mullins, who is currently working as an IT business analyst in the engineering and construction industry. Terry shares his experience in The Business Analysis Blueprint®️ program and how it helped propel him forward in his 30+ year career in the same company.

What we found insightful about Terry’s story is how he happened upon business analysis through a meaningful conversation with his manager and then subsequently how he found himself a part of Bridging the Gap.

In this interview, you’ll discover:

  • How Terry discovered Bridging the Gap and how he made the decision to join The Business Analyst Blueprint® program.
  • How much his employer valued the hands-on aspect of the program.
  • How the frameworks helped him bring more structure to what he had felt was a haphazard approach to his projects, and think through things proactively.

BEVERLY SUDBURY: Good day. I’m Beverly Sudbury, and I’m an instructor with Bridging the Gap. And I’m here today with Terry Mullins, who is from Columbus, Ohio. He’s currently working as an IT business analyst in the engineering and construction industry. Today, Terry’s going to share with us his journey and how he participated in the Business Analysis Blueprint program and how that contributed to his success.

Thank you, Terry, so much for showing up today and sharing your experience.

TERRY MULLINS: Well, thanks, Beverly. I appreciate the invite to be here, and it’s a pleasure to talk to you and see you.

BEVERLY SUDBURY: Great, Terry. Thank you so much again. I’m excited to hear about how you went through things and how you experienced things in the program. So shall we dive in?

TERRY MULLINS: Yeah, absolutely.

BEVERLY SUDBURY: All right. So can you take me back to a time slightly before you actually joined us at the Business Analysis Blueprint program and tell us where you were at in your career and what were you looking to try to achieve?

TERRY MULLINS: The firm that I’ve worked with, I’ve been here a number of years, 30 plus years. I’m a lifer and I have a vested interest in how can we do things better? How can we be more productive? I was in the IT world and still am. For a number of years I did CAD, computer aided design support. A lot of IT support, a lot of programming, software development, things along those lines.

A couple of years ago, about three years ago, I found myself starting to do a lot more R& D on the tech side of things. What are some things that we, as an engineering firm, can be doing that’s industry trends? What are some service offerings we can offer to our clients to build a better product, maintain a better product of things along those lines.

I found myself kind of morphing into that role of look at what we’re doing and how can we do it better and what can we offer. My supervisor, after things kind of working out that way, approached me and said, “Have you thought about becoming kind of like a business analyst? That was a brand new term to me. I’d never heard it before. It’s like, well, we talked about the job description and I’m like, yeah, that’s exactly what I would like to be doing. So, credit him for approaching me about that.

I had to educate myself on, okay, what does a business analyst do?

Like most folks, I went to Amazon and started looking up books. I’ll put in a plug and no one asked me to do this or anything like that. One of the books that came up, it was Laura’s book, Laura Brandenburg, “How to Start a Business Analyst Career.”

I digested that over a few days and it’s marked up everything. It gave me a good base, like, okay, this is something that I’m kind of already doing, but, I just don’t know a lot about it. I like to be very systematic and thought out about what I do step by step by step.

Just familiarizing myself with the job role that led actually looking through the website, Bridging the Gap. That’s when I learned about the program. I started reading the description and was involved because I wanted to educate myself on it.

I shared that with my supervisor and he was really impressed with the program, the outline. This actually involves work on my part as far as developing, it’s not just a study for a series of questions. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it was more than just a question and answer sort of a thing. You’re actually going to get your feet wet. You can actually put it to use. That was very appealing to us. And that really led me towards Bridging the Gap, going that route.

BEVERLY SUDBURY: It sounds like you have a lot of background experience in just how to think as a business analyst and how to start that process off. It sounds like you’ve got had a lot of really good influences, including Laura’s book, to take the program. That’s fantastic news. It’s really interesting that you started with the book and then kind of explored a bit more and went through and then finally found the program. It sounds like your management was very much on board with supporting that decision to go with the program. That’s wonderful.

TERRY MULLINS: Yeah, absolutely. Fully behind it and encouraged me to take it and certainly glad that I did.

BEVERLY SUDBURY: I’m glad that you did too because it was a pleasure having you in the program. That’s fantastic.

So you got to the program. What were you kind of hoping to achieve from the program when you actually were going to complete it? What were your initial thoughts of what is my goal to achieve from this program?

TERRY MULLINS: Really developing a process. I think it’s pointed out in the book and other conversations. You’ll find out you’re doing a lot of these things already. But I didn’t want to feel like I was doing them in a, I hate to say haphazard way, but apply this, do that, do that. Oh, yeah, we should do this. And maybe if I do…I didn’t want it to feel like it was just kind of all over the place. I really wanted to, okay, how do I approach something from start to finish from recognizing here’s a possible issue that we have and here are some possible solutions, here should be involved. Building that business case.

How do I think of something through from start to finish to where you can actually develop a product or satisfy your stakeholders? I just wanted a systematic way of approaching things. That’s really what I was seeking.

BEVERY SUDBURY: It sounds like you were looking, specifically, for the framework that is actually explored within the program. I’m glad you found it. That is fantastic.

Can you tell me a bit about your experience during the program? What things did you actually find helpful for you?

TERRY MULLINS: I’d have a hard time here just coming up with a short list because it was extreme. It was exactly what I hoped to achieve. It taught me that process. It introduced me to a lot of new concepts, use cases and user stories, agile. There was a lot of things that I wasn’t familiar with at all. I’ve been doing them somewhat in practice, but like I said, just hadn’t been taught the actual framework for it. So I really wanted to achieve that.

The program, I highly recommend because it taught me all those skills that I’ve been putting into practice since completing the course.

As far as expectation goes, we’ll find on the website what to kind of expect and things like that. It ended up being, it was work, but it was very beneficial. There was a purpose behind it. There was always a goal to achieve. It did involve time and effort on my part, but anything worth achieving is worth working for.

The very structure from start to finish, the lesson plan, really helped me, just like I said, think through those things. It was work, but like I said, I think it’s paid off quite a bit. And I’ve been putting it into practice, too. I find myself more and more, as weeks go by, going back to even my notes from class and saying, “Oh, okay, I remember doing this. I remember writing this. I remember this is how to approach that.” I’ve been referring back to it quite a bit in my job role now.

BEVERLY SUDBURY: It sounds like you’ve got a lot of good information out of the program that really did help you.

How did you find things like the support and the program, how it was laid out? Was that helpful to you as well?

TERRY MULLINS: It was extremely helpful because you have the lesson, and then the live Q and A. I try to attend those as much as possible to directly interact with the instructors. Then being able to contact you via email, work directly with you throughout the course. Emailing questions, and you were always very, very helpful.

“I’m not going to give you the answer, but think about it this way,” sort of thing. That was extremely helpful to me. You always gave me great direction. I didn’t feel like I was just there trying to work through the course trying to figure out on my own, there was a lot of support. That was great to have. Very helpful.

BEVERLY SUDBURY: Excellent. Thank you for your kind words, Terry. I do appreciate that. It was a pleasure. I agree. It’s one of those things that it’s a course where you actually have to think through what you’re going to respond, and think like a BA and understand that it’s not just a response you can put down, but you actually have to analyze what’s going on and what your answers are going to be. Very good to hear that you’ve got that experience and it’s helped you manage your own working environment and where you’re going towards in the future.

If you hadn’t invested in this program, if you hadn’t invested in the Business Analysis Blueprint Program, do you think you would be where you’re at today? Where do you think you would be?

TERRY MULLINS: I honestly don’t think I would be at this, I don’t want to say skilled level, but ability in my current role. I really don’t think I would probably still be approaching things the way I did piecing things together. Like I said go back to that systematic thought through process of doing things. Things could have been done. Yeah. But it could have taken more time, more effort, more wasted effort. If I just felt like I was just trying to put things together on my own, but being able to, like you said, have that framework of how to think things through.

Just a couple of quick examples. The first opportunity I really had to say, okay, I’m going to put this into practice. I’m going to write a business case. Here’s an issue that had been brought to my attention just to document. Here’s the current scenario. Here’s why it needs to be improved. Here are some things that could be done. Here’s who should be involved and here are the benefits from it. Just outline that into a document, into a business case.

The first one that I passed on, the feedback we got was this was extremely helpful. In a one or two page document you basically summarized the current scenario, why we should even invest time in this and here’s how it will pay off. The feedback I got was just very, very encouraging. This was very, very helpful. I find myself doing that now quite a bit. Before we proceed, let’s think this through. What’s the issue? What are we trying to solve here? Here are some possible scenarios and solutions. I’ve gotten great feedback and now I’m actually getting requests. “Hey, can you write one for this?” That sort of thing. I’m already actively putting into practice what I’ve learned and through the course. It’s been extremely helpful. I don’t think I’d be doing any of that right now if it wasn’t for the program.

BEVERLY SUDBURY: It sounds like you got a lot of good skills out of the program, but also from what I’m hearing you say, you got a lot of confidence because you’re now challenging yourself to do some things that you may have not attempted before because you have that framework and those skills that you’ve kind of dabbled in through the program and you’ve gotten good feedback from the instructors and you’re now saying, I can do this because I can achieve it. So it sounds like you got some good confidence out of the course as well.

TERRY MULLINS: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. That’s absolutely the truth. I feel like I can do this.

BEVERLY SUDBURY: You’re now an old pro at it.

TERRY MULLINS: Yeah.

BEVERLY SUDBURY: Your story has been wonderful. I really appreciate what you’ve said. It really shows how someone like yourself who’s dedicated to learning and putting some time and effort and can really,  get a lot of value out of a program like this through the actual application of the skills that you read about and learn about, and then getting the feedback from the instructors and working through that whole process of thinking and doing. It sounds like you had a great experience, Terry.

TERRY MULLINS: Absolutely. That’s an understatement. I would do it over again in a heartbeat and highly recommend it to anyone pursuing this path. It will pay off.

BEVERLY SUDBURY: Thank you for that, Terry. I really appreciate it. I really appreciate you spending your time here today and sharing your experience with us, and telling us about what you have done. It sounds like you’ve accomplished a lot in your position, so I do appreciate you sharing that.

Is there anything else you’d like to share to anyone who might be considering moving into a BA path or even taking this course?

TERRY MULLINS: You can do it. Yeah, you can do it. You need some instruction and guidance and encouragement along the way and this program certainly accomplishes all those things thanks to you and Laura and everyone. The whole team there, they were all great. I had a great experience with everyone.

BEVERLY SUDBURY: Sounds fantastic. Thank you again, Terry, and congratulations on your successes after the course. I really appreciate you sharing that with us today.

TERRY MULLINS: Thanks. Thanks Beverly.

BEVERLY SUDBURY: All right. Bye now.

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