Case study

Business analyst — Lindsay Wilson

Lindsay is in the final year of a graduate training programme with Pulsion Technology, where she undertakes supervisory and managerial activities

How did you get on the graduate scheme?

I applied for my current position a few months after I graduated from university and after two interviews I was offered the job.

I think experience from my course helped me to secure the position on the graduate scheme. I had undertaken a work placement in a high-school teaching environment, where I designed and delivered a workshop for pupils that required them to design, create and test a website using an application called Serif Web Plus.

I was able to use this experience to great advantage during the competency-based questions at my interview. It allowed me to demonstrate a range of interpersonal and communication skills that were vital for the role, as we train clients at the implementation stage of the solutions we've devised.

Keep your focus on what you're working can be helpful to get relevant experience and may create opportunities for potential jobs

How relevant is your degree to your job?

In order to apply for the IT graduate scheme I needed to have a computing or related degree. I had gained a strong foundation in analysis on my course, which really helped when I had to learn SharePoint as part of my job. The experience from my course helped when speaking to clients about configuration requirements and integration.

I was quickly moved into the business analyst role for which I didn't specifically require a computing degree, as the business analyst passes functional specifications to the developers.

However it is a relevant and useful background for my job, for example, the software analysis and design module is relevant when preparing functional requirement documents.

What do you do day to day?

This depends on the project - it might be meeting customers to discuss and capture requirements, preparing the documents that specify what they've got and what they need, developing 'wireframes' or story boards for system developers, or further meetings to discuss modifications, costing, progress, implementation and staff training.

How has your role developed?

Within three months of being in the IT graduate role, I moved to the business analyst role as I demonstrated strong business analysis skills. A year later I became support manager for the company, which involves offering support for all clients across the UK, Europe and the USA.

I now manage the support team making decisions about escalating particular jobs where general support is not enough.

I also completed my PRINCE2 foundation and practitioner course and an ISO 9001 Quality Management course. I'm now responsible for maintaining the company's quality management system and conduct regular audits. My employer is very supportive of putting me through continuing professional development (CPD) training.

What do you enjoy about your job?

The excitement of working on multiple projects at any one time, working with different clients, different company sizes and different projects means that there is always something fresh and new.

I enjoy being able to travel extensively, both in the UK and USA as part of my work.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

There are never enough hours in the day and time management is always an issue. I use a web application called Asana which works both for managing my own and my team's time.

Customers change deadlines and requirements regularly and it can be challenging keeping them to the original agreed deadline and specification. Where these details change there are implications for resource management.

Any words of advice for someone who wants to get into this job?

Being a good listener is useful in order to capture and understand customer requirements. You also need to be able to communicate effectively as you'll be liaising with a variety of people, from customers to systems developers and project managers. It's important that you can make realistic suggestions that are creative, innovative and solution focused.

Keep your focus on what you're working towards. There aren't many business analyst opportunities for new graduates, especially in Scotland, however it can be hugely helpful to get some relevant experience and it may create opportunities for potential jobs.

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