Immersing Herself in the Business Analysis Profession – Sue Melchert


Hello, and welcome. Thanks for being here. I’m Laura Brandenburg from Bridging the
Gap here today with Sue Melchert from outside Chicago. Hi Sue. Hi. So grateful to have you here and share a little
bit about your journey into business analysis this year and your participation in the Circle
of Success. It has been an amazing presence and an amazing
vibrant part of our community. I’m excited to hear a little bit more about
your story personally as well. To get us started, tell us a little bit about
where you were towards the beginning of this year when you started to join the program. Okay. Well, thank you for asking. January 2019 I felt like I wanted to shift
away from just being a systems analyst to be more of a people-oriented business analyst. That was my impetus. I don’t know how I came across Circle of
Success, but I know that I’ve been on your mailing list, so I constantly got the reminders
do this, do that and finally I decided well let me jump into this because it seemed like
it would be a good platform for me to get involved and hear other business analysts. So I clicked on the link and it took me to
what was called Circle of Success and I had to use Slack to do it. I was familiar with Slack, so I signed up
right away. It was as though I walked into a room with
a number of business analysts. It was great. It was the people that I wanted to talk to,
so I was there. They didn’t know my background. They didn’t know who I was, but they knew
me as a business analyst, so the presumption was I was a colleague, and that felt really
good. As I started to get more involved with Circle
of Success, because I was just in the trial, I decided to go ahead and purchase the program
for the year. That’s how I got started. Oh, that’s awesome. And I love that, “They saw me as a colleague.” How important that can be to say to ourselves. “I’m a business analyst and I’m part
of this community of business analysts,” and how that just changes your self perception
a bit, too. One of the things I’ve seen you say in the
group, like, “Oh that gives me the insight of what that’s like,” or the lingo, the
insider lingo. Do you have something to share around that;
lingo that’s come up or how that’s affected you? Well, I really…my takeaway from reading
all the wins every night is people share their day and what they feel they’ve learned. So I get a lessons learned synopsis every
day and what a treat. Yeah. Just the other day, someone was talking about
a sprint and using the terminology that I didn’t really know a few months ago, but
I could visualize what it is that she was trying to explain. So, for me, that was a big help because now
as I go into my interviews, I can whip out the terminology and sound like I know what
I’m talking about. At least I’ve got a visual of what the process
is. That has helped me. It really has. My contribution to the group; I try and feed
back positive comments because it’s so important. And you know people are just pouring their
hearts out explaining the good and the bad. Some of it’s tough to read. What I have learned from that is sometimes
we’re all in this together. What I’ve experienced, which I thought was
just worst case scenario, someone else has also experienced it and this may be part of
the job. So do I need to develop a thicker skin? Maybe. But it also, listening to other people’s
stories gave me insights as to what is acceptable, what’s not acceptable, how to resolve situations,
and when may be the best time to walk away. That’s probably a good point because there
has been; I mean there’s obviously been a lot of successes and a focus on wins. We do that. But there has been a decent amount of heartbreak
as well and that’s part of the culture I wanted to create. This is our first year where we’re still;
honestly, I’m figuring it out with everyone. We wanted people to be able to show up in
the vulnerability and where the challenges are happening and have a safe space to get
support around those challenges. I’ve heard this a few times, that feeling
of I’m not alone has come up a few times. “I thought I was the only one who had this
crazy ridiculous thing happen to me.” I guess it makes you feel a little bit like
it’s not my fault. It’s other people that I respect and that
I can see, no, they have their stuff together; it happened to them, too. It’s been an unexpected, but I feel, valuable
component being able to share some of that. Just the more challenging aspects of what
it takes to do this. Thank you for bringing that up. What’s driving you to go from more of a
systems analyst role to a business analyst’s role? What do you see in that for you? I know I’m good with people. I’ve got good people skills. When I work in a team, I encourage everyone
to speak up. I’m comfortable delegating tasks that I
can do in order to build someone else’s skill set; all the technical positions that
I’ve had in the past. I tend to do a lot of training, technical
training, because I want people to learn. I want people to be able to use the tools
they have. My last position as a systems analyst was
more enterprise because it was working for a state job and I was hired as a systems analyst,
so my role was pretty well defined. But I always felt the need to go above and
beyond. Sometimes that got me in trouble because I
was being too nice or helping people all the time when I just needed to stay on my tasks. So it felt like I really need to shift into
more of a people role being able to interview stakeholders. I feel comfortable talking to various levels
in the organization. My last job, I got in trouble for treating
an upper management person as a colleague. So I wasn’t displaying the deference that
I needed to display. But that’s how I do treat people. They’re important to the organization regardless
of what level they are. So I think of them as colleagues. The role that I had as a systems analyst was
more programming related as compared to people related. After a couple of years in that role, I decided,
you know, I really enjoy the technical part. I can talk the talk, but I wanted to be more
involved with talking to people. Why do you want changes? What are the benefits to you to change, or
what motivates you to change? How can we actually make it so? That’s what got me more involved with being
a business analyst. I have a skill set that I can apply. I have a business degree, so I understand
finance. I feel very comfortable with finance. Marketing changes all the time, but even business
operations. I feel comfortable with the mechanics of business
and being able to talk to the business owners. I feel comfortable doing that and asking them
questions. So, I thought a business analyst role would
be a better fit for my skill set or my gifts. Yes, your gifts. Exactly. And I love that you’re being called towards
it for the people side. But also the things that got you in trouble. Our roles, when we’re doing our best work,
that should never be the stuff that gets us in trouble. It’s kind of a good sign that the role that
you are in or the box that you are in was maybe a bit constrained for what your true
gifts are. What’s your journey been like this year
starting to pursue that next step? A lot of research. Kind of looking at a data analyst vs. a business
analyst or a systems analyst vs. a business analyst, or what is a business systems analyst,
IT analyst? There are so many different titles for this
skill set and I didn’t know I was a business analyst until a recruiter mentioned it back
in, I think it was 1999. Showed her my resume. She brought me into the office and we’re
talking, talking. She said, “Oh, you’re a business analyst.” I said, “Oh, okay, well.” I’m also good at this and this and this,
and I like to be a technical trainer. I have a business degree. I didn’t understand what she was trying
to tell me, but having listened to you and actually doing some research and listening
to everybody else, the business analyst role, for me, is a better fit. And it only took how many years to figure
this out? So 20 years later… But you’ve been kind of doing that a lot,
right? I mean you’ve been doing this for small
businesses… Right. Yeah. You can also say I’ve been a business analyst
for 20 years. You could reframe things that way. Yeah, because everybody has a different level
of engagement. If it’s a business analyst, even for a small
business, it’s still the same process. You’ve still got to go through it. You still have everything like the lessons
learned. I took a lot of project management classes. That dovetails really nicely with business
analysis because sometimes you wear both hats for small projects, and I’ve done a lot
of that at the small business level. Even when I was working for medium-sized business,
I was brought in as a business analyst for the financial side. I loved that because I love accounting and
I was able to contribute. I knew the lingo, the turn of accounts, the
numbering system. It felt really good to bring that skill set
to the table under the title of business analyst/financial. So I have been doing it. I just didn’t know what it was called and
now I do. Awesome. One final quick question for you, or actually
there will be two final quick questions. But you’ve been really generous with your
time. When you think about the year that you’ve
had with Circle of Success, do any of the teachings, in particular, stand out that you
benefited from in a particular way? And how have those impacted you? The monthly webinars have been very helpful. Going from jaded to motivated, very very helpful. Thank you. The negotiation one where we had the guest
speaker. She was great. I’ve taken negotiation classes before and
this webinar really helped me with the dialogue. It helped with phrasing and how to kind of
set up the negotiation. That was very helpful. You applied that one right away. That was like an immediate win. Yes and it felt good to be able to apply the
skill you just… Yeah. The Einstein Time was interesting. I had to figure that out and look it up. How did Einstein come up with this idea? And then I also read people were referencing
Einstein time in their little wins for the day, so I decided, well, I’ve got to figure
this out. How can I apply it? So it’s almost like people say put it in
the universe and do the expectation and you’ll get what you expect. It’s all that same premise. You have a game plan. You proceed with your game plan and time will
present itself. As long as you’re ready, just like in marketing,
it’s a lot of preparation. When the moment hits, you’re there. We were talking just yesterday in our group
call about all the work that might happen, but then it’s the snap. Actually, a lot of times things are that quick. Sometimes you need the preparation and the
planning and all of that; but sometimes it really is just a switch that flips and then
you’re like wait, the world’s different and that can create space or release a lot
of space to work on the things that matter most. Yeah. That’s surprising what you can get done
in just a couple of minutes. Right. I’ve decided to focus more on my tasks. So every morning I get up; I do my kind of
like meditative with a cup of coffee, and then I decide what are my goals for the day? What do I have left over from the day before? So I’m prepared. And if I have a couple of minutes free, then
I go right back to my task lists because I have an idea of what I want to do. Yeah. I also read someone else’s opinion of task
lists and their suggestion was put it on the calendar. That just having a task list isn’t enough. You have to commit to the time. And that’s so true. And so when I talk to people on any kind of
project, we do the same thing. If there’s a discussion on what needs to
be done, the next question is “When?” I even do that with my family, too. I was just listening to a teaching about that,
which is something I think I want to talk about in the Circle in 2020 is how important
your calendar is and scheduling in even the important personal stuff which feels impersonal. You have to schedule it in, but it actually
is one of the most loving things that you can do by making, because once it’s in your
calendar, you’re saying it’s a priority. Right. It’s philosophically the same thing with
your task lists, but you’re really putting the time, you’re allocating the time to
it. So thank you for sharing that. It’s like date night. You have to plan a date night. Yes you do. We do. Alright. Last question. Thank you so much for sharing. What does success look like to you? I see myself getting into a business analyst
role. From there, gathering my hours so I can pursue
getting the certification. I have not been able to get certification
for project manager because I just wasn’t in an environment that presented enough hours. So, this particular certification, there are
fewer hours that I’ll need, but I also need to be in a project clocking the hours, having
the whole backup for that. So, that’s like my year goal. I’m pretty sure I can pop it off in a year,
but once I get into that environment, that’s where the hours come in. And what certification are you considering? Just the regular business analyst, what is
it, CBAP practitioner? Yep. So a three-year goal…oh yeah, I also want
to do [ITL – 17:53] because I’m seeing a lot of people that are also business analysts
have that ITL background. The IT, more of an overall familiarity. I think it’s up to four now. One of the women in the group, she’s got
her ITL. So if she’s got it, I want to get it. It is not a competition. Well, I admire her, so let’s put it that
way. Yeah. Awesome. She’s my secret mentor. She doesn’t know it. That’s really what I wanted. That’s why I joined because I wanted to
see others and what are they doing. This whole Circle of Success for me has been
a mentoring program that I’ve certainly enjoyed and it has helped. Thank you. Well thank you for sharing that and I’m
excited to see where you go in your business analyst career. It’s been a real honor to have you as part
of our founding members of our program this year and to be able to share a snapshot of
what’s been going on with the rest of the world too. So, thank you so much, Sue. My pleasure.

1 thought on “Immersing Herself in the Business Analysis Profession – Sue Melchert

  1. If a recent college graduate wanted to get into this area, how would they start, because all the openings are requiring experience and college does not give you experience? It is not taught in college and there are very few entry points.

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