Business Analysis Career Path Options
What is beyond Business Analysis and how to find your career path to your next career goal?
I would like to start this blog article with the fact that if you are a Business Analyst today, you are not only a Business Analyst, you are a business professional with a myriad of potential career path options open to you. You simply need to choose where it is you want to take your career next. Exciting right?
A shocking revelation by an unsuspecting Business Analyst…
I recently had an experienced Business Analyst come to me with a career goal, which stated that he wanted to become a Project Manager. When I quizzed him about it, it became clear that he really wants to be a Project Manager (and is not just choosing this career option because he doesn’t know better). He then told me that he thought that in order to become a Project Manager, he would first set himself a more “realistic” goal of becoming a Business Analyst lead on a project. My ears started to ring with sirens and all kinds of noises! This very talented business professional whom is also highly intelligent and well respected in the company doesn’t believe in himself. He is putting up barriers like false goals to reach before he will allow himself to go for what he really wants: To be a Project Manager. I pointed out to him that if he wants to become a Project Manager he should start focusing only on his end career goal and that taking detours in order to be more “realistic” is not going to get him to his goal nearly as fast as simply going straight for what he wants. This surprised him a little, I could see that he was somewhat amazed that this straight path to his end career goal is an option; he genuinely convinced himself that he needed to take the detour via the lead Business Analyst role. I can only hope that what I told him has sunk in and that he will in fact only focus on his end goal.
This is just one example of a person who has allowed outside pressures and organizational cultures to influence his decision and plans for how to get to where he wanted to go.
What is a natural career progression for a Business Analyst?
Business Analysts often ask the question about what is a natural career progression for a Business Analyst? I would like to tell all Business Analysts that it is whatever you want it to be. Business Analysts (and other Business Professionals) tend to wait for the organization, managers or industry to tell them what a Business Analyst should do as a next career move. This is really doing it all a little backwards. The Business Analyst should decide what they would like to become and work with that focus in mind. The additional benefit that Business Analysts have above other professions, is that due to the subject matter agnostic nature of the Business Analysis skill set, it is even easier for a Business Analyst to steer their career in the direction they want to go.
Let me share another example of a Business Analyst who came to me. This person’s career goal is to become a Fraud Specialist that is an expert in the Fraud Industry. She started out as a Junior Business Analyst on a project relating to Payments in the Banking Sector. She has been focusing on becoming a Fraud Specialist and is now the resident Fraud Specialist Business Analyst on a national payments program. She did exactly what you should do – decide what your next career goal is, and make sure that everything you do is focusing and visualizing this goal being achieved. Before you know it, the doors open and you are what you were focusing on.
Simply pick your next career goal!
As Business Analysts we are in the very fortunate position that we get exposure to many different subject matter areas and many different levels of stakeholders within the organization. We are almost in a type of role that can ‘sample and decide’ many different roles before making a career goal decision, simply because our skill set allows us to work in many different areas without having to do a career change to get this type of exposure. We are therefore in a unique position to achieve any career path or goal by simply focusing on it and in this way our career is steered towards it. So as a Business Analyst your only action you need to take in order to become whatever you want to be is to decide what you want as your next career goal. It really is that simple.