TBAC 046 | BA Interviews – Alaeddin Hallak – “Stretch Your Comfort Zone”

by Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo

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In this episode, it was my pleasure to interview Alaeddin Hallak, from Saudi Arabia. He brought forward some amazing insights into some common challenges faced by business analysts. He also presents a unique angle of how business analysis is perceived in that part of the world.  In continuing with the tradition of learning from experienced and expert BA practitioners from around the globe, Alaeddin and I discuss some key aspects of advancing your career. We had recorded this interview long time ago, and were unable to publish it due to the audio file having challenges; however, we were able to successfully repair and restore the original recording. There are a lot of valuable lessons to be learnt from his experience and insights. Here is Alaeddin:

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Why He Likes Being a BA?

“I see a limitless potential for technology to contribute to business growth and make a difference in people’s lives, and my BA role lets me be part of realizing this potential. I also love the people aspect and get a kick out of helping clients articulate their real needs and eventually see the results they’d like to see. Finally, I’m intrigued by challenging assignments which give me an opportunity to stretch my comfort zone and employ new or old techniques in getting the job done.”

Here is a Sneak Peek of The Episode

  • His journey from a developer to BA
  • We as a BAs we are in a unique position to make a difference
  • His Business Process Improvement engagements 
  • How he uses 5Whys techniques and root cause analysis to get to real requirements 
  • BA kickoff meeting – set expectations
  • The importance of interpersonal skills
  • How he handled non-cooperating from stakeholders
  • Prototyping discussion
  • Have different documentation for different audience 
  • As a BA you need to sense the different needs of audience
  • High impact learning experiences – examples and how you can identify them
  • The value of learning by conscious reflection 
  • Plan ahead for your meetings
  • Organize and don’t keep it all in your head
  • Discussion on BA practice in KSA

Insightful Quotes From This Episode

“Here I am finally realizing that BA (Business Analysis) is what I want to do not PM, not sales..” 
“We (BAs) help them discover what their real needs are…”
“Sometimes BPM projects can be like putting the lipstick on a pig”
“Have stakeholders think in terms of requirements not in terms of solution”
“And they actually think that a solution requirement is what my real requirement is…”
“Our job here is to help them to get to the root of the problem”
“The engagement from SH won’t come automatically”
“I always stress on my team to go easy on the language side – coz people want simple straightforward stuff”
“If you are really passionate the first thing to avoid death zone… (deft zone)… confidence level increases the capability level… pilots”
“Tough is good… Go for tough… stretch your comfort zone”
“Take a step back and think “what am I going to learn out of this experience?”
“A thing that cannot be measured, cannot be improved”
“Establishing a good BA practice is not easy when you don’t have good management support”

Links to His Profile and Blog

Alaeddin Hallak in Brief

Alaeddin Hallak is a Lead Business Analyst at Bank Al Jazira with over 10 years of experience on various business and solution domains, including government, financial, aviation and retail sectors. He has led massive projects such as the ‘SADAD’ project, Saudi Arabia’s central payment system that handles over 90% of the nation’s transactions. Alaeddin is also a Certified Usability Analyst (CUA), a Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) and has helped lead the user-centered design and usability testing efforts for various projects in which he was involved. He also has a strong technical foundation as a certified .NET developer and advocates the importance of BAs having certain technical background in to be effective in certain projects.

If you have any comments or questions for this episode, please post them below.

Enjoy the show!


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Article by

Yaaqub Mohamed (Yamo), is the founder of The BA Coach community and host for the #1 ranked business analysis podcast in iTunes. He believes in adding relentless value to the BA community and advancing the practice.  He host this blog, and podcast to help business analysts throughout the world, do analysis better, by providing educational, relevant, and inspiring content. He's the author of 'The Five Pillars of a Great Business Analyst', best selling 'The Ultimate CBAP-CCBA Study Guide' and the creator of the revolutionary 'Ultimate BABOK Kit'. 

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