I am excited to present our first case study on how to successfully transition to a Business Analyst career from another field. Meet Ana, a reader of my newsletter who recently made a transition from a job as a Quality Assurance Engineer to Business Analyst. She offered to share her experiences with others hoping to make their own transitions into rewarding technology careers as BA’s.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Ana. I’m a QA engineer in my mid 40’s working in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
What was your work and school experience prior to becoming a Business Analyst?
My formal education is a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (from a European country), but started my career in software testing and quality assurance after taking a course on the subject and loving it.
My first testing job was at a Chip Design multinational company (consumer electronics-video processing Integrated Circuits) as a software/firmware tester where I held progressively more senior QA positions during the 12 years I worked there.
After that I have spent 2 years in another multinational company in the field of Lighting Control where I was a Senior QA Engineer.
Then I went on to work with my current company, a government agency in the transportation industry, where I was a Testing Coordinator for another 2 years.
Starting about 3 years ago, I enrolled in a Business Analysis College Certificate program at Seneca College in Toronto. I am three courses away from obtaining the certificate.
Why did you decide to go from Quality Assurance Engineer to Business Analyst?
I was tired of testing and quality assurance. I didn’t see myself retiring there, or moving into a Test/QA Manager role. My background and experience is quite suitable for business analysis, and many QA/Testers consider it a good career path. I also got tired of working with poorly written and incomplete requirements!
How did you conduct your job search?
I looked for in-house opportunities, as the company is quite large and BA opportunities are available most of the time.
What skills/knowledge/experience from your background were you able to leverage in your BA job search?
Having over 15 years of experience in testing and QA, I have worked with requirements a lot in order to write test plans and test cases. Most of the time I found requirements to be incomplete, un-testable or ambiguous. This meant I had to dig in and find out what exactly a certain requirement is supposed to achieve. For this, I had to interact with multiple stakeholders to extract the proper information from them.
Most of my experience in testing and QA was in companies where there were no formal BA positions. That was why requirements quality was quite poor.
What strategies did you use on your resume, while networking, and at the interview to convince the employer to hire you?
On my resume, I highlighted the experience that is closely related to business analysis. I also networked with a few colleagues in BA roles to find out how I could break into a BA job myself. Additionally, I joined the BACoE (BA center of excellence) at my current company even before obtaining the BA role.
In terms of education, I have taken BA courses as part of the BA College Certificate I am pursuing.
At the interview, I highlighted my project experience that the new role will be involved in, as I was part of the same project in the testing/QA phase and knew everything about it. The new BA role deals with the implementation of this project in the field and it is exciting to see the project from this side of things.
What was your greatest challenge/obstacle while finding your Business Analyst job, and how did you overcome it?
My greatest challenge was a lack of formal Business Analyst experience. I overcame it by taking BA courses and working with a professional resume writer to help highlight my transferable skills. It also helped to network with current BA colleagues.
What kind of company hired you?
Transportation industry, large government agency, the same company I was already working for as a Testing Coordinator.
What insight and wisdom can you provide our readers about your journey to becoming a Business Analyst?
Never give up. Work with a career coach or professional resume writer to identify transferable skills. Take continuing education courses in business analysis with a recognized College or University. My first thought of becoming a BA was over 10 years ago!
Network, network, network with current colleagues in BA roles even if they are in different groups/divisions. They will help you with information that you might not be aware of otherwise
Join the International Institute of Business Analysis to keep up with the current trends and developments in the field
Thank you, Ana, for sharing your experiences with us!
Are you someone who made a transition into a Business Analyst career and would like to share your experiences? Contact me!