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The importance of upskilling in the tech sector

31 Jul 2019

If you want to make your mark in the world of technology, you need to be prepared to be an eternal student.

“Continually seek opportunities to build your subject knowledge. The technology industry is constantly evolving so to stand still is to be left behind.”

Sandra Lacey, a program business analyst at Dun & Bradstreet, knows from experience how important this nugget of advice is. Constantly evolving professionally is absolutely vital to succeeding in her role within a company that is, in turn, evolving constantly to keep up with emerging trends in the industry.

We spoke to Lacey about how she arrived at the role she’s in today, and her advice for those setting out on a similar path.

What first stirred your interest in a career in this area?

I guess my first awareness of the technology industry came from secondary school. They sold it to me as an area with multiple career opportunities with expansive roles, which is where my initial interest began.

What education and/or other jobs led you to the role you now have?

After graduating from college in Limerick, I was fortunate enough to get an entry-level job as a global funds system administrator at Invesco. During my time in this role, I learnt how to support production issues and communicate implications of system changes to stakeholders globally.

I also learnt how to manage a backlog of defects and software improvements, while managing stakeholders’ expectations. I then transitioned into the banking industry at Merrill Lynch to focus on process improvement within projects. This gave me the necessary experience to take up a senior business analyst role at Exaxe, a software company for life and pensions.

During my time in Exaxe, I worked as a lead business analyst in providing an illustrations system, policy administration system and agency management system for multiple international insurance companies such as Aviva, MGM and Friends First. I was able to work closely with the development team and the customer, which really allowed me to develop my analyst skills.

What were the biggest surprises or challenges you encountered on your career path and how did you deal with them?

The art of talking. My biggest surprise was how reluctant people can be to communicate with each other. I find a simple conversation leads to greater clarity and a greater sense of direction for everyone involved. Communicating using email or channels has its place but there is no substitute for direct engagement to gain agreement.

Was there any one person who was particularly influential as your career developed?

I have always enjoyed working with system architects. I find they are excellent at presenting all aspects of a problem and identifying corner cases that might not necessarily have been thought of. They have taught me a lot about solution design and problem-solving.

What do you enjoy about your job?

Collaborating with my colleagues and teasing through problems to try to find a solution that meets the needs of our customers.

What aspects of your personality do you feel make you suited to this job?

I think I am naturally curious and ask a lot of questions, so this helps when pursuing a career as a business analyst.

How did Dun & Bradstreet support you on your career path, if at all?

Dun & Bradstreet have been very supportive in allowing me to continuously broaden my technical knowledge. Last year, I completed my scrum master and PMP Agile certifications. This year, I intend to learn more about Amazon Web server and get cloud practitioner certification.

What advice would you give to those considering a career in this area, or just starting out in one?

To continually seek opportunities to build your subject knowledge. The technology industry is constantly evolving so to stand still is to be left behind. Technology is such a broad area with plenty of opportunities to progress within the sector if you keep pushing yourself.

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