Through The Lens of the Speaker

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Exhausted but inspired, information overload but great ideas to experiment, implement and imbibe…. this was my feeling at the end of the Business Analysis Conference Europe 2017. What an amazing event! Three full days of inspiration, wisdom and thought-provoking speeches. The five tracks covering a vast horizon of topics, each unique in its flavour yet within the theme, was a difficult choice to make.

Bindu Channaveerappa, Senior Business Analyst, British Standards, [email protected]

Bindu spoke at the Business Analysis Conference Europe 2017 this past September on the subject of “Who are Business Analysts ‘Really’ Engaging With: A Peek into ‘Being Human'”

For the first day of workshops the artist within me, who is always amazed at the visual representations, wanting to hone my artistic skills encouraged me to choose “New Techniques and Creativity”. Giving a shot at drawing various icons the morning session was enjoyable exploring Infographics, Sketch notes and Impact maps. The second half of the day was completely different and had kept my curiosity alive, since the day I registered for this workshop. “From the battlefield to boardroom”, drawing parallels to interrogators and business analysts, the workshop drew attention to emotional intelligence and transactional analysis. It was fascinating to know the stories from an interrogator who worked with terror suspects in war zones and to understand the fact that, no matter how difficult (mentally and physically) a person may be, the only way to maintain a good relationship, (in this case to obtain the truth) is by connecting to their human or emotional side. It was interesting to see the skills required for an interrogator and a BA were exactly the same!

The second day of the conference was kicked off with breakfast briefing and welcome note by Debra Paul from AssistKD and a keynote speech by Maggie Philbin, followed by awarding the BA of the year 2017! However, I had to miss these morning events, as my session was the first in my track and hence preferred to meditate to bring myself into the speaker zone and also setting up logistics for the presentation with the technicians. Focussing on the importance of emotional intelligence and using our human potential to bring creativity into BA activities, my presentation involved understanding what makes us “human” and included a short meditation exercise (reflection, may be the appropriate term) which pushed some of the delegates out of their comfort zone, to meditate in a business conference and in their best business suits. However, my attempt to challenge the stereotype was totally welcomed. It was gratifying to see delegates inspired to experiment and implement the techniques. Thanks to my track leaders Sandra Leek from Lloyds Banking Group and Debra Paul from AssistKD for all the support. It was reassuring at all times, especially being a first-time speaker at this conference.

Following my session, I chose to attend two completely different talks themed under “Fresh Perspectives” from Thamer Mills from Whitbread and Amardeep Sirha from Sky. It was fascinating to see the role of BAs transforming from traditional to agile environments, given the myth around “BAs are not needed in an agile environment”. The development and implementation methodology may change but the need for core analysis cannot be any less. It was clearly evidenced that apart from the varying documentation and deliverables from a BA, (at Sky, the documentation is in the form of photos, of the user stories written on post-it notes, rather than long worded documents,) the core analysis and the validation process still remain the same and cannot be forsaken.

After the networking lunch, open and perspective sessions was another keynote speech from Graeme Simsion, conveying the message that skills are transferable, with the right perspective. Today’s diversified working environment demands skills that can come from completely different domains or industries, and Graeme in his entertaining speech shared his experience of his transition from an IT consultant into a Hollywood scriptwriter and a bestselling novelist. Looking forward to the next session that was from one of my role models, Adrian Reed. As always Adrian’s session was once again informative, captivating and motivating. His implementation of systems thinking was not only experimental but also practical. Not a one-way street was the following session by Janice McNamara, on IIBA mentoring programme, another session to share my experience as a mentor. Being a mentor in the IIBA Mentoring Pilot Programme, I was inspired to volunteer again, for the fact that the learning is both ways, and was a real treat to share the enormous benefits that the mentoring programme brings.

The final day of the conference was kicked off with a welcome note by IIBA UK Chapter President Andrew Turner and keynote “Beyond Boundaries” by Michael Noonan, Director of Business Design, Capita.  What an amazing speech, one of the best keynotes of the conference, in my opinion. The theme “are we relevant” just nailed the audience. The speech was thought-provoking, something to ponder in different perspectives and challenging the boxed thinking to push our perceptions/assumptions beyond boundaries. Applaud to the speaker for his head space!

Following this was another intriguing topic from the Bank of England, sharing how they aligned Architecture and Business Analysis teams, sharing the benefits and challenges in the process. It is rational to approach strategic initiatives with both these skills, in order to provide a feasible and suitable solution, rather than in silos. Given the nature of their scope, both these teams complement each other like the two sides of a coin. The Bank of England has realised it by devising an ergonomic approach.

After the final day’s lunch and open sessions, I was looking forward to the final keynote speech from Miles Hilton-Barber, Blind Adventurer and International Motivational Speaker. His passionate speech kept the audience in awe for his courage and self-belief. There was a non-stop applause for this man, who left the audience to see FEAR and nothing more than False Emotions Appearing Real!

My mind filled to the brim with so many perspectives, information, knowledge and thoughts to ponder, I was overwhelmed, and at this point, all I wanted to do was sleep for a long time and take time to cherish and churn all that I have gained in these three days. Now, just after a few weeks, I have already started to think about another topic to present and will definitely look forward to being here once again in 2018.

Bindu Channaveerappa is a senior business analyst with 20 years of experience in IT industry and over 10 years specialising in business analysis across various business domains. Being an enthusiastic business analysis professional She is always trying new ideas to bring innovation to her BA activities and shares her learnings through blogs, articles, workshops, training & mentoring. Bindu has been mentoring in the IIBAUK mentoring scheme since its inception and presented the mentor learnings from pilot, at one of the London events. She is an exam writer for the new ‘IIBA Exams and is currently in the process of presenting webinars through IIBA headquarters. Bindu believes in continuous learning, which enabled her to perform extensive research to understand “what it takes to be a successful BA” by experimenting human emotions and behaviours whilst engaging with stakeholders in her day-to-day BA activities.

Copyright Bindu Channaveerappa, Senior Business Analyst, British Standards

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