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Business Analyst of the Year 2016

Not quite the Oscars or the BAFTAs or the Booker, or even the Nobel prize but still a massive achievement. Wednesday, November 2016 I had the honour of attending the UK IT awards and seeing Donna Carey of Telefonica awarded Business Analyst of the Year.

We all know that business analysts have an incredible impact on their organisations – they help formulate the changes and the projects that, make money, save money, and protect money for their organisations…and hopefully make the world a better place for all of us. It’s time that this profession was fully recognised – and the UK IT awards help take a small step in that direction.

I got involved with this story when I was invited by the BCS to White Hart Lane, home of Tottenham Hotspur FC, to be a judge of the BA of the year award. Arriving at the ground, ushered to a box, I met my fellow judges: Nick De Voil, UK IIBA director and fellow Metadata Training lecturer, and Dave Baker, Head of Business Analysis for sponsor North Highland. There I was, a part-time Chelsea supporter, sandwiched between Nick, a Spurs supporter, and Dave, an Arsenal supporter rather embarrassed to be at the enemy’s home. Much banter ensued.

 

We’d waded through 60 pages detailing the fascinating projects and amazing work of the candidates. Each demonstrating the huge variety of business analysis work and the challenges it can bring. We spent 30 minutes with each Business Analyst – but such was their enthusiasm I could’ve listened to each for hours and learnt lots. Each in their way showed exemplary application of BA skills and techniques though some had only been BAs for a year or two.

 

Some examples: Harish Krishan of Cognizant had had to understand the intricacies of London Heathrow in a very short time, deal with many stakeholder groups in helping turn Heathrow into one of the first “smart” airports in the world. David Ovien of the Financial Conduct Authority was very new to BA work and had taken over a role from an experienced contractor and worked with external and internal stakeholders to formalise a process of introducing taxonomies – turning tacit knowledge to explicit. Adam Blair of National Grid had taught himself agile practices and used them to turn around a failing project – leading to the Grid adopting an agility framework. Vimla Narain of UK Power Networks, very new to the BA world, combined great analytical ability with some impressive stakeholder management. Ian Head of Nationwide analysed complex FCA regulations, and delivered a new complaint handling solution and the necessary training to 12500 staff. Ben Murray, also of Nationwide, led a team of new BAs, in the new area (to Nationwide) of mobile payments in implementing Android pay to very tight deadlines. Shane Pillay of Lloyds Banking demonstrated how BA skills could be applied and extended successfully on Big Data projects.

 

It was a really tough decision with such a field of very strong candidates – each of whom we would be happy to see as BA of the year. However, two Business Analysts stood out. Simon Hancock of Nationwide won over doubting senior stakeholders with his collaborative and innovative ‘visioning’ approach to benefits identification and then lead the BA side of two projects that delivered massive savings to the business. Simon was awarded Highly Commended.
The winner was Donna Carey of Telefonica. Donna lead a team of 14 BAs on what must be one of the largest projects in the UK: Smart Metering which aims to place 53 million internet enabled gas and electricity meters in 30 million UK homes. Donna’s team have ultimate accountability for 6000 requirements, 300 processes and 250 user journeys. Apart from taking this responsibility, Donna improved the BA process by introducing the HP ALM requirements traceability tools and providing a more consistent process design using BPMN and Aris. Throughout this Donna’s stakeholder management has been exemplary with accolades from within her team and from the wider community.

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