Jitendra Talreja : Business Analyst
It is very rare to find someone who directly became a business analyst (BA) right after graduation! This a job profile that you venture into once you gain some "domain knowledge". Ever wondered how one ends up becoming a business analyst. Read this interview with a successful BA, Jitendra Talreja:
Click here to check Jitendra's LinkedIn Profile
With 11+ years of experience, today I am a business analyst (BA) in the Capital Markets domain. Before becoming a BA, I've spent considerable time in the industry that gave me a lot of insight into capital markets. In the past I've worked with a well-known brokerage house and with a custodian that enriched my work experience by providing me with the opportunities to work in different areas.
Right from helping the clients trade to creating research reports and handling the team in clearing and settlement area, I got exposure to most of the areas during my tenure with them. And this is what enabled me to take forward my career path as a BA. This is one role that expects you to be up-to-date with the market. And that has prompted me to take up this as my career choice.
Post my PGDBA (Marketing & Finance and Investment Administration, Capital Market), my first job was with an advertising agency in Mumbai. Till then there wasn't any clarity of thought at the career level. It was an exploration stage for me. My love for the city brought me back to Pune and I picked up a job with a brokerage house where I learnt about stock trading and client portfolio management. And this is how I got hooked to the industry.
From there on I worked on creating research reports and moved on to a job with a well-known custodian where I learnt about global practices in clearing and settlement. With career advancement, my role became more about people management and monotony started setting in.
Since I had a keen interest in process improvement, I initiated few quality improvement projects that were successful. This gave me confidence to become a consultant. The journey towards becoming a consultant starts from being a business analyst first. And this is how I am here today.
It is an "individual contributor" role that interacts with all the stakeholders in a project. Every organization has a different definition of this role. Having said that, please note that there are few basic requirements that a BA must have, however, there is no cap to it. It's a very dynamic role and can be clubbed with various other roles like scrum master, project manager etc. Primarily this role expects you to be a Subject Matter Expert (SME) in your domain area, however, if one can understand coding and is able to write basic SQL queries, it is definitely a plus for him to progress further.
A normal work day would include
- Writing requirements, i.e. taking briefs from the clients, understanding the same and then creating an artifact that will be used by others to further their jobs.
- Conducting and organising sessions to explain the requirement to your team that includes developers, testers and technical writers. You also need to organise domain sessions to raise the understanding of the team.
- Reviewing the implementation – ensuring that the developed solution is as per requirement and there are no deviations to it.
- Assisting with defects – during implementation if there are deviations, then addressing the same.
- Assisting in project planning – estimating the ideal hours to complete a requirement. Preparing the list of requirements to be developed.
- Assisting in test planning – BAs have a major role to play here. Defining the width and depth of testing the requirements, time estimation to complete the testing. And also helping in defining the scope/content of various other testing types.
- Reviewing documents like user guides, online help etc.
The above mentioned are the major task that a BA does, however, there can be other areas also where a BA helps like presales, sales presentations, research, publishing white papers etc.
It has been a smooth ride for me and hence no complaints. However, there was a delay in picking the suitable path and that was because of lack of information about the opportunities available. Now, since I've set myself in this profile, my objective is to move to the next level of consultant which is not very soon and will take considerable time - maybe another 5-6 years.
Fortunately during my college I had picked up a computer course that helped me build up my programming logic. Besides having domain knowledge one should have exposure to at least any one programming language as it helps in communicating with the developers, logic wise. UK market regulators have a requirement for the supervisor of clearing and settlement team to be IOC (Investment Operations Certificate) qualified (formerly known as IAQ, Investment Administration Qualification). And since at custody I was handling the same team I had to take that certification. So before taking up this career I already had what was required.
Other than this I have taken courses on presentation skills and MS Excel. Presentation skills are required mostly during product demonstrations to the customers and other stakeholders and also while conducting sessions. Without MS Excel, one has a serious disadvantage while performing many tasks. There are a few trainings that I got within the organization itself like Scrum Master (to be the facilitator of the team to achieve the common goal), MS Visio (to define the process flow) and basic SQL (to investigate database). There are other courses and trainings that I've taken that are not directly relevant to this role, however, the same come in handy some or the other way. To be successful in this field there is no specified list of training that one must have. However, anything and everything, with respect to tools, is useful.
As this role has a lot of interaction with various parties, communications and presentation skills will always be required. At the same time, it improves with every passing day. Other than this MS Visio and MS Excel will always be required. These are very basic tools and the most important. MS Excel is not just the spreadsheet, it is more than that.
But most important is the domain knowledge which should be up-to-date. Knowing everything except for domain knowledge would be a sheer waste.
I was working for a Swedish client that required publishing some regulatory reports for which I didn't have any details available. And whatever material that was available online, was in Swedish. So, I had to translate all the reports and understand it with various journals. And then there was defining the workflows for the same. It was tough as it involved translation, that too with Google. Whatever translated files that I got was not giving the right picture. There was a lot of learning through committing errors. But at the end, we delivered an error-free reporting solution. It is one of the best learning experience that I have had.
Students must identify a domain first. Basic graduates can also do wonders in this field provided they have substantial domain knowledge. For this, one must not just rely on trainings as the real understanding comes when an individual personally experiences it. By reading books and with formal education one may know how to trade, however, until and unless he enters the market he'll not know the challenging scenarios, decision making moments, cost of an error etc. So one must experience the domain first before entering in this field (completely my view.)
Students should also focus on their computer skills. They should very comfortable with MS Office and should have some programming exposure. Basic database skills are also valued. Both written and oral communication are important as the role not only involves creating documents that will be referred by others to create something, it also expects the individual to deliver domain trainings, product trainings, product demos etc.
Never ever jump on to a career that attracts you in terms of money. One must choose a career based on their likes/ dislikes. Then, you will never get bored in your career and you will excel too.