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New Post 10/1/2009 1:46 PM
User is offline kelly123
2 posts
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From PA to BA - What professional qualifications? ISEB? Please help! 
Modified By kelly123  on 10/1/2009 2:51:02 PM)


I hope someone can give me some insight or advice on this...

I am based in the UK. I have completed a masters degree several years ago and subsequently worked as an academic research assistant and now as a PA (personal /admin assistant) in a corporate (a year). Three months into my job as a PA I took over parts of the job of our BA colleague who has left the company. His workload has been divided between myself and another analyst. I have remained in my role as a PA while also doing BA tasks (but not IT relevant). My tasks are more data analysis specific and to gather and prepare and analyse data and put it  in a presentable format to senior management to give them an overview and analysis of the market for our products and those of competitors and suppliers and buyers.

After some discussions with management it doesn't seem likely that I will have a lot of room to progress into a proper BA role (several factors) anytime soon. But I would like to increase my chances (whether in-house or actually external) to become a proper BA because I do find myself lacking some formal knowledge and longterm I would like to be in PM. But because I find my current employer do not have the means to support my career goal and I'm stuck being PA doing some BA tasks, I feel bit frustrated not getting the chance to gain more experience in this area because I won't be freed from my PA responsibilities but the opposite is happening. (Although my employer assured me they're happy with my performance.) But I would say, I spend almost half of my time doing BA tasks while if a deadline is looming, that could be up to 90%. And obviously that means also juggling my PA tasks and doing overtime. I don't want to be "bogged" down with more PA work if this is not the career route I'm taking and this taking away my time to focus on BA work.

So I was looking into various routes to improve my chances and to help me bridge this gap and get into a FT BA position (even if it's junior level). I came across the ISEB qualification since the the CBAP requires solid experience which I don't have. How useful would it be for me to do the ISEB diploma in BA as to improve my chances to get into BA? Are there any other qualifications out there which may be also useful? I have to add that I would feel comfortable with the IT part of the job.

I would very much appreciate any tips or input or opinions on my current situation. Thank you!




New Post 10/3/2009 6:01 PM
Online now... Adrian M.
764 posts
3rd Level Poster

Re: From PA to BA - What professional qualifications? ISEB? Please help! 

Hi Kelly,

I understand your dilema - here are some thoughts:

  • Consider it a great thing that you are being assigned business analysis tasks.  Even though your employer may be reluctant to change your role to a Business Analyst, since you're doing BA tasks ask them if they can provide you some training so that you can better perform the BA related tasks of your job.
  • Another thing to do is to ask a more senior business analyst to be your mentor and to help you begin your business analysis career.  Remember that the business analyst profession entails numerous tasks and thus required skills so it is possible that your employer may believe that you can do one or two tasks well but not many more.
  • Focus on "requirements"!  From your description you're mainly doing research and presenting data to management - business analysis is more than that - is understanding what those numbers mean in relation to the goals and challenges of the business aka the "Now what?" part.
  • The ISEB diploma would serve you well as it will provide you with a foundational knowledge of what business analysis is all about - you'll know what you don't know.  Plus it will look great on your resume.
  • In addition - you should also try to look for a junior BA position elsewhere (since your employer is not giving you the opporunity).  This may take some time - so focus on doing a great job for your current employer, work on your ISEB diploma, join the local IIBA chapter, as a senior BA to mentor you...
  • And... update your resume to showcase those business analysis taks which you are performing in our current job.  You might even consider putting your role instead of the title on the resume.  For example: instead of "Personal Assistant" put something like "Coordinator & Jr. Business Analyst" - if that fits, of course.

Hope this helps!

- Adrian

Adrian Marchis
Business Analyst Community Blog - Post your thoughts!
New Post 10/21/2009 3:15 PM
User is offline kelly123
2 posts
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Re: From PA to BA - What professional qualifications? ISEB? Please help! 

Hi Adrian,

many thanks for your reply! I really appreciate your time given to answer my questions.

I've tried to do more research on the ISEB qualification but information seems to be scarce... I believe it would be beneficial for me to increase my knowledge in this field by doing this course but I'm not sure how recognised this qualification is in this field? Since it is quite expensive to do this course I would like to make sure that this is the most suitable one to do.

I've been thinking to learn also SQL and VB.

I've tried to ask my employer to change my job title - something to reflect more the nature of my work. But I haven't had a response to that yet. I think, your suggestion of "coordinator and jr business analyst" is very suitable.  But I believe it wouldn't be good practise to change that on my resume without my employer's agreement if a prospective employer contact my current employer for references? Maybe it sounds like a stupid question - what's the difference between role and title?

What does it entail for a senior BA to mentor me? Is it common to ask someone more senior to mentor you?

I've been looking for entry level analyst jobs but as you said, it probably will take some time. Although I would hope I can increase my chances by doing the ISEB qualification.

I would really appreciate if you can further provide me some of your thoughts on this.

Many thanks in advance,




New Post 10/22/2009 2:05 AM
User is offline Guy Beauchamp
257 posts
5th Level Poster

Re: From PA to BA - What professional qualifications? ISEB? Please help! 

Hi Kelly,

Adrian has covered all the most important points.

A couple of other things to consider...

1. the ISEB qualification has no authority. It is created and run by a self appointed organisation. I have never seen a job have as mandatory the ISEB Diploma (sometimes it is a desireable attribute though and of course it does show a level of (financial if nothing else!) commitment on your part).

2. There are other self appointed BA organisations and exams - the IIBA and CBAP for example is probably the next biggest.

3. IIBA have meetings (tend to be London centric but sometimes take place out in the bush) and these meetings are good places to meet other BAs.

4. From your comment re SQL and VBA in this post and comment about being ultimately being a PM in your original post I would suggest that before committing to BA that you analyse whether it is the right career path for you by answering these questions

 - what problems or opportunities are there in your life that lead you to think that BA is the route for you? Example: You want to become a PM (according to your original post)?

- What measures would you monitor to say that problem has been fixed or opportunity exploited and what target for these measures equates to success? Example: one measure might be "job title" and the target measure might be "PM"! There might very well be many of these objectives or measures of success and that would normally be the case. It is likely that each problem or opportunity will have many measures of success. It might also be the case (and is likely) that one measure of success will be measure of success for fixing more than one problem and/or exploiting more than one opportunity.

- what would I need to do to affect the measure job title such that it equals "PM"? Example: Personnel records need to be updated to reflect job title "PM". There might well be many of these

These points are the critical ones so you have to be brutally honest with yourself as everything that follows should be geared at achieving the above - if it isn't you are wasting your time! Having got a rock solid view of what needs to change to achieve your measures of success you can analyse what you need to do to achieve them:

- What are the processes to get personnel records updated? Example: My line manager needs to notify personnel.They will only do that when they have promoted me to PM. They will only promote me when...Of course, there will be other processes to achieve this such as:  I get a job with job title "PM". In order to do that I need to apply for the jobs. In order to apply for the jobs I need to meet relevant job selection crieteria. The relevant job critera are blah blah blah so I need to to get blah blah blah. To get blah blah blah I need to ...

You won't have all the information  to hand so you can do things like as in this forum, have a look at jobs you would like to be considered for and categorise what they are looking for and so on. This could result in a long term plan so make sure it is the right plan by making sure it is achieving what you want it to achieve, and documenting it so you can review and refine as needed and monitor your progress.

By the way, doing all this kind of work is the same style of thinking you would do as BA on any project...

Hope that helps (a bit, anyway?).


New Post 11/27/2009 8:55 AM
User is offline Phil
1 posts
No Ranking

Re: From PA to BA - What professional qualifications? ISEB? Please help! 


Hi Kelly,


I see the ISEB courses as good CV fodder which could be used by organisations to filter job applications. This is especially true with the current jobs market when companies are reciving 100;s of apps for tone job. With this in mind I have decided to pursue the diploma and have done three of the four required modules. Here is my experience of the exams to date:


Requirements Engineering

I did this module with Parity and although the company I worked for paid for it, I felt that that the content didn't justify the cost. Also, having experience in the BA role, I found that the course only confirmed that I was doing things right rather than teaching me anything new. Having been disappointed with the cost:knowledge gained ratio I decided to pursue a course of self study for the remaining modules.


Modelling Business Processes

I self studied for this (plug for Guy here..) by using the JEEP pack from His material covers everything you need to pass the exam and if you put the time in I see no reason as to why you wouldn’t pass. This is a testament to the hard work Guy has put into developing these JEEP packs – I think he has a Requirements engineering one too. I did my exam with TCC and it cost me £250. Apparently I passed with flying colours!


Business Analysis Essentials

Again, I self studied for this. I feel that as long as you are familiar with the following then you would have no problem





CATWOE & World views

Business Activity Models


The only resource I used for study were the BCS Business Analyst book and a couple of example papers that I was able to acquire from colleagues. I sat the exam with TCC on Nov Fri 13th and I’m awaiting my result!


I think the organisational context exam will be the hardest as it covers all business activity. I’m undecided on if I will self study for this and may choose to do this via a provider (lucky my employer will cover this cost).


If I were you I would buy the JEEP packs from smart-ba and see how comfortable you are with their content. You can then decide if self study or providers is the right way for you. My opinion is that if you are committed to doing the exams then there is no reason as to why you can’t self-study and save yourself a lot of money.




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