Paula Bell business analysis consultant des moines Iowa

TBAC 022 | BA Interviews – Paula Bell – ‘Never Stop Learning’

by Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo11

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Continuous learning is a cornerstone for any business analyst’s career, and Paula is a great living example for this philosophy. She has created a very successful business analysis career for herself through reaching out to opportunities, and keeping learning at the forefront of her professional development plan.

She has a very diverse background as a practitioner, and has acquired keen insights working in different roles in the industry. Her passion for business analysis stems from her being a ‘relator’ as assessed by ‘Strengths Finder‘ book. (One of my all-time favorite books). Her biggest message to the BA community:

“Never Stop Learning”

There are a lot of valuable lessons to be learnt from her experience and insights. Here is Paula’s  vivacious interview for your learning:

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Why She Likes Being a BA?

“I like being a business analyst because it allows me to meet new people, understand their needs and transforms  those needs into a reality through a solution of some sort.”

Here Is a Sneak Peek of The Episode:

  • Her transition from being an Integration Specialist to Business Analyst
  • Her experience in web development, carpet manufacturing, criminal justice system, financial mortgage industry and compliance
  • Why she likes massive initiatives and challenging projects
  • How she  senses and overcomes politics in projects that she works on
  • Her secrets on building consensus
  • Tips on engineering a buy-in
  • How she picks up crucial communication signals from stakeholders
  • Insights on knowing the right level of details needed for requirements
  • Importance of learning and how you can stay up to date in your niche
  • The value of creating a development plan for business analysts
  • The right way to mentor and be mentored
  • How she uses lists and seclusion to boost productivity
  • Why BAPM is her favorite KA from the BABOK® – specifically conducting stakeholder analysis
  • An important perspective about how business analysts are viewed in her organization

Insightful Quotes From This Episode:

 ”Can you agree enough to understand why we are going in this direction and buy-in to it.”

“Sometimes as a BA we are placed in an awkward position.”

“Ask the value adding question and conduct peer reviews.”

“Keep that learning going because everyday we are learning something different.”

“Don’t ever think that you are so senior or seasoned that you cannot learn something.”

“In order to be a leader you have to understand what is going on around you.”

“Create a development plan and figure out where you want to be in the next 5, 10 yrs.”

“In a mentor-mentee relationship each side learns something.”

“Everything we do is making our community stronger.”

Links to Her Profile and Blog:

Paula Bell in Brief:

Paula Bell is a Business Analyst, mentor, coach, blogger and author known for consistently producing exceptional work, providing guidance to aspiring business analysts (including those that just want to sharpen their skills), as well as, providing creative and strategic ways to build relationships for successful projects. With 15 years in project roles that includes business analyst, requirements manager, technical writer, project manager, developer, test lead and implementation lead, Paula has experience in a variety of industries including media, judicial system, carpet manufacturing, banking and mortgage. Paula has had the opportunity to speak on a variety of topics at various conferences nationwide as well as organizations here in the Des Moines area. Paula holds a Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems (MIS) from Oral Roberts, University and is a certified Business Analyst.

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

Enjoy the show!


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I am a passionate and practicing business analyst, author, and blogger from Toronto, Canada. I host this blog, and podcast to help business analysts throughout the world, do analysis better, by providing educational, relevant, and inspiring content. Musically driven by Eagles, Lucky Ali, and Linkin Park. Huge fan of Colts, Leafs, and Indian cricket team. To be in the loop for latest member-only resources, and news from The BA Coach be sure to sign-up for our free eNewsletter. View more BA passion painted with digital ink by Yamo!    

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Katie Metcalfe February 14, 2012 at 12:38 am

Hey Paula, enjoyed your podcast interview. I really like your comments about continuous learning. This is so important for us BA’s to find progress in our work and careers.

Reply

Paula Bell February 14, 2012 at 3:04 am

Thank you Katie! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I love to continue learning and I agree with you it’s so important for us BA’s to continue refining our craft.

Reply

Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo February 15, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Thanks, Katie. Glad to know you liked this podcast; appreciate your continued listenership and support. :)

Reply

Sudhi February 14, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Truly insightful Podcast!! I keep telling to all my chapter members to keep reading and learning. The moment you stop learning, your thinking and innovative ideas stop. Hence, as a BA I have discovered one more underlying competency is ‘The urge to know more’ either reading or continuous reading. Also, thanks to Paula for highlighting this to the BA community and last but not the least Yamo for giving a brilliant platform like this :) Thanks again!

Reply

Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo February 15, 2012 at 10:43 pm

Thanks, Sudhi. That would certainly be an interesting competency to add. There is already “Learning” as an important underlying competency for a great BA in the BABOK. I have also alluded to this in my book (Five Pillars of a Great BA); the urge to learn or the desire to learn is as important as the ability to learn well for a BA. This is especially important for a BA wanting to advance their career, and become a better practitioner.

Appreciate the kind words about the podcasts. Thanks for your continued support and listenership.

Reply

Ashis June 29, 2012 at 12:28 am

This is very informative, thank you for sharing.

Reply

Paula Bell February 16, 2012 at 2:54 am

Thank you for your comment Sudhi. I love this! This is what it’s all about spreading the knowledge to each other. I have to echo Sudhi’s thoughts Yamo, thank you for this platform to do this.

Reply

Valeria December 14, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Have to hand it to you — this was one of the most informative of the podcasts — and they are all fantastic.

Yet this one went deeper into social psychology. It is unusual to get such a clear discussion of topics such as the politics surrounding projects, yet I think it is probably the biggest reason projects fail: ulterior motives from a stakeholder that no one else has realized for what it is.

Paula describes a diplomatic and logical way of detecting this and working to overcome it. This is definitely one of those podcasts to listen to over and over again.

Thanks, Paula. And thanks, Yamo. This series is invaluable to the BA community.

- V

Reply

Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo December 17, 2012 at 6:37 am

Thanks for the kind words, Valerie. This is indeed one of my favorite BA interviews too.

So much of what we do as business analysts is related to understanding our stakeholder’s psychology. Getting past the political maze in a project is important for successful business analysis. Paula’s suggestions and insights are indeed very practical and useful.

I am glad to know that you found this podcast (and others) useful and I appreciate you leaving a comment.

Cheers!
Yamo

Reply

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