This is an interview with Samantha King, who has worked for Manulife Financial in a variety of roles including analysis, data governance, and management, done by Naomi House of INALJ. This is part of INALJ’s 2020 series on non-library jobs for library workers. Samantha has provided us with further insights into her work as an Electronic File Analyst and a Product/Data Owner .
On Business Analyst Work :
an Interview with Samantha King
part 2 of 3
Q1: Thanks so much for taking the time to help us better understand what Business Analyst work is and how LIS folk can get into this field. First could you tell us a little bit about yourself, where you got your MLIS (if you have one) and what you do?
(You can read Samantha’s initial answer to this question in part 1 of her interview, On Electronic File Analyst Work.)
Additionally I wanted to give a bit of detail about being a BA.
As a Business Analyst, my role was to work with both the business and the developers to help build useful reports for staffing, issue management, and other resource related reporting. Due to the size of the team, I wore many hats, including not only the standard BA work, but also some project management work, some quality assurance and test development, and even some minor development work.
I also got to run projects in both the traditional waterfall style as well as a modified agile methodology. I did some cool things like wireframes, sample sites, and set access levels because of it. Plus I was providing reporting to leaders all the way from supervisor to executive levels, so I was able to see and understand the varying needs of those stakeholders.
Q2: Now can you tell us how You personally got into doing this type of work?
I was actually hired into this role primarily because of my MLIS degree. This particular role was primarily about developing reporting that could roll up by category so that it could be presented to varying levels of stakeholders and management. Having a background in categorization and classification from my courses and my co-op role made me a great fit. I also had the background in gathering requirement from my previous role, where I frequently had to determine what clients wanted to do.
Q3: What makes this a great field for LIS workers and likewise, what do you think makes LIS workers strong candidates for hiring managers in this field?
I think this is a field that is excellent for LIS workers. A lot of the work is just organizing information as it comes in and making sure that the output matches that information. LIS workers are excellent at keeping information and people organized, at translating needs between different groups, and at doing research to make sure that the result meets those needs. All of those are key soft skills for a business analyst.
Q4: What is the best way to get your foot in the door or your first job as a business analyst?
A lot of large corporations hire internally for BA roles, so getting into a company is usually the first step. Once you’re in a company, volunteering to help with projects when they come up is usually the best way to start gaining experience.
Q5: Finally what are some of the most important skills / certifications / etc that LIS folk can do to prepare them? Any last tips?
Many schools offer professional development courses centred around becoming a BA, which I recommend looking into and taking a few. There is also the option to become a Certified Business Analysis Professional, which requires not only courses, but also experience and a test. I didn’t pursue this, but if it’s a field that you’re interested in and you are comfortable with the cost, it is definitely a benefit.
Beyond that, client interaction, requirement elicitation, and organizational skills are key. A lot of the role is really knowing how to get people to tell you what they want, and then making sure they understand what they’re asking for, and then translating that to someone else. In a lot of ways, it’s like a reader advisory, only really really in depth.
Samantha graduated from Western with an MLIS in 2012. Since 2013, she has worked for Manulife Financial in a variety of roles including analysis, data governance, and management. She is currently a Data Owner responsible for the personal information of millions of customers. In her free time, Samantha enjoys volunteering, going for hikes, and of course reading. Pronouns are she/her.
Views expressed are those of the interviewee and not INALJ or their employer. Photo provided by the interviewee and permission granted to use it for this interview.