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Out of the Box Business Analyst Career Path

OutOfTheBox1What are the career options for a business analyst? That has been and still is a highly discussed topic. For a long time the only clear option for BAs was to be promoted to a project management role. I recently did a webinar with BA Times, “What? You Don’t want to be a PM!“, where I discussed career options for BAs in addition to project management. The options I proposed I now view as “in the box” career moves. For BAs that want to be in the IT space, I proposed a potential path as Jr. BA, Sr. BA, BA Lead, BA Manager, Director, VP, CIO. Additionally within IT, BAs can move into a business architect position and/or strategic business analysis role where they look across the company to help determine the best projects to pursue to maximize business value. If you want to expand outside your company you can become a consultant. I also proposed BAs can move into the lines of business. As a BA you gain valuable information about the business goals, operations, and areas for improvement. All of those options are wonderful and do give the BA other avenues to pursue besides just project management. The skills you build as a business analyst, without a doubt, prepare you for those career moves.

As I was discussing this topic with a colleague, Angie Perris, she enlightened me that my current role or career does not clearly fit into one of the roles mentioned above. In part of the BA consulting that I do (which is an “in the box” career move), I am now responsible for leading and managing the B2T Training brand and marketing efforts. I consider brand management and marketing “out of the box” career moves for business analysts. This started me down a path that BAs are not limited in their career options.

How I Got Here

A few years ago, I decided to dedicate my working hours to business analysis. An opportunity arose giving me the chance to work in a capacity where I think about business analysis full-time, I perform business analysis activities, and I get to help other companies transform their business analysis practice. By making a change from working full-time in an IT department as a business analyst my horizon opened wider than I ever anticipated. My passion for business analysis is still very strong now along with branding and marketing. I view this as having multiple children. When you have your second and third child you don’t love the first and second one less. Your heart grows and you love all; you give even more.

In my role I am learning new skills through experience, mentors, and formal and informal education. I have also added a number of new individuals in different industries to my network! But, there are many skills I use every day that I became proficient in because I am a business analyst. In marketing, like business analysis, it is critical for me to understand the needs of my stakeholders. I use my interviewing, active listening, and other communication skills to elicit their challenges and opportunities. I then rely on my analysis skills to help identify gaps between where they are today and what they need to reach their end goal. I still document and communicate requirements to solution teams like designers and web developers based on my needs in marketing.

I say this only to show that the skills learned as a business analyst are invaluable and can be used in almost any path you choose or happen to fall in to. Keep your mind open and the opportunities will surface.

So where has your path taken you? Share your experiences of the path you took and where you are headed? Has the downturn in the economy actually opened a door you didn’t even know existed before? Please share your story in the comments.


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