In our latest spotlight interview we chat to Senior Business Analyst Robyne Birkby about making the move from software developer to business analyst, her experience of being a “woman in tech” and advice for anyone considering a career in the technology sector.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you first got into IT and software development?
It was my Dad who got me into IT. He was helping me choose a course for Uni and he spotted one which was half a Business Management degree and half a Computer Science degree. I’d never been keen on gaming or building computers and had never done any coding, so I was totally confused when he suggested that course for me. As it turns out, it was absolutely the best suggestion for me. I think logically and love problem solving, so a career in IT is a good fit; it’s all about finding solutions to problems.
Since then, most of my professional career has been as a developer, but more recently I have been working as a Business Analyst.
What drove you make the move to Business Analysis?
It was a natural progression. I was on a couple of smaller projects where I needed to scope out the work for myself before I started developing the solution. I found I enjoyed chatting to the clients, finding out about their work and what they needed. I then needed to do it for a larger project which had other developers as well and found they appreciated the work I was doing, and that the project appeared to be running smoother because we had a better understanding about what was required before we started writing code. I felt I was onto a winner; I was enjoying it, I am good at it, my colleagues appreciated it and the clients were happy, so why not make the move more permanent?
You have recently been shortlisted in the Agile Angel category of the DevelopHER awards, congratulations! What’s your experience of being a “woman in tech” and how do you think the industry needs to change to encourage more women into the sector?
It’s no secret that IT is a male dominated industry, but I don’t think it’s just the IT industry. Since becoming a Business Analyst, I’m in client meetings a lot more than I used to be and overall, I tend to feel more outnumbered in those meetings than I ever did when working within my own team. You very rarely get women in the room discussing new projects and opportunities and I am yet to work with a female Product Owner. Based on my experience, I would say that the balance at the top of companies in many industries is just as unbalanced, if not more, so I think it’s a much wider issue than just attracting women into IT.
Having said that, I think attracting more women to IT would be about changing the focus from it being about computers and tech to more about what you are achieving through doing the job. For me, the computers and tech are the tools I use to do my job. For me, it’s much more about designing and building solutions to make people’s everyday lives easier. One of the things I like most about my job is when we get to show off our work to the users. They are generally really happy to see this new thing that’s been built specifically with them in mind. They can immediately see how much easier their job is going to be and that happy reaction never gets old.
What advice would you give to young people who are considering a career in the tech sector?
Be ready to learn, and then re-learn. Things are forever changing and at such a fast pace. You will never be bored because there is always a new problem to solve. If you enter into it and accept that you will never know everything, but you can learn anything, then you will have a wonderfully successful and enjoyable career.
What’s the best thing about working for IJYI?
It’s definitely the people! I love the fact that everyone here is so passionate and enthusiastic. We all support and help each other wherever possible and the enthusiasm helps drive us all to be better. IJYI also creates lots of opportunity for us to grow. We are given the control to be able to change and influence things, both with our career and within IJYI. We are all responsible for making IJYI better, and it’s so refreshing to feel like you can have more impact and control than just coming in to do your day job. I genuinely love it here!
Catch up with Robyne’s recent blog about what makes a good user story.
Robyne is a senior business analyst with more than 12 years experience working across multiple industries including insurance, logistics, gaming, warehouse management and commodities(metals and mining). The thing she most enjoys about working in software development is building a solution. Every day is different – there is always a new problem to solve and a new way to solve it. More recently she has been digging deeper in agile methodologies, particularly scrum, running discovery work shops, user story mapping sessions and team leading.