In this week’s edition, we sit down with Mark Perrell – Principal Business Analyst at Perform. Get ready to learn about Mark’s journey as we shine the spotlight on him; we will learn about his role, how he kickstarted his career in the field, and what invaluable advice he has to offer for those aspiring to pursue a career in Business Analysis. Let’s dive right in!
Most recently, we’ve had two Junior Business Analysts join the Perform team, so I have been building a development plan for them and helping them get settled.
I will be working closely with Jon, our Head of Delivery, to get the new team members up-to-speed and contributing the right way across Perform Partners. At the same time, we want to develop their skills and capabilities as Business Analysts through training and practice. So, getting the right mix of business benefits and learning is something I’m very focused on.
On a larger scale, we are also looking at our own delivery method – “The Perform Way”. Each client has their own unique circumstances and challenges, but by building on our teams’ experience with best practice tools, templates, and techniques we are always providing them with high-quality standards and outcomes. These resources will be available across our Perform Partners community, so anyone working with the team can benefit.
Those are the two big areas I am thinking about on a day-to-day basis. It’s not all quite there yet, but it’s very exciting and it’s almost linking it back to why I came to be a part of the Perform team. Having worked in big corporations for all my career up to that point, lots of these things have been decided for you. There is a process for everything already, whether it’s good or bad, somebody somewhere has put some thought into it. But in a smaller organisation, everything is adaptation and change and there is more of an opportunity to be creative. So that’s exciting!
I’ve also recently spent time working in a client-facing role. This has been an interesting one for me as I’ve been acting as a consultant, going out to one of our clients and delivering work and change for them on a temporary short-term basis. I’ve usually been on the other side of the table, hiring consultancies and contractors and marking their homework, rather than having to be the one delivering it. So, getting back to the coal face, so to speak, and actually doing some proper analysis has been quite refreshing and a change of scene for me in many respects.
I joined in August 2022. I had previously worked with Paul Rhodes for about a year or so at another company. At one point before joining, Paul and I had a conversation about their growth plan, and how they were going to build out practices like business analysis, project management, etcetera. But, at that point in time, Perform weren’t quite ready to start hiring people. Later, Paul reached out to me again saying that they had a job for me, and it all came together really nicely.
When I first joined, I think a key contribution was calling on my background in business architecture to describe how Perform Partners operated by providing a view of the high-level process architecture. That work got parked when I moved onto the client assignment for 6 months. And now I’m back in HQ the new focus is at a much more practical level – developing our new people and some real working practices too.
I got started in Business Change projects and IT accidentally. I was working in Customer Services and so my role was talking to people in a call centre, solving their mobile phone, and radiopager, problems because this is how long ago this was.
The company I worked for at the time had a project to replace one of the main systems that was being used in Customer Services and I was dispatched off to the project to be the Subject Matter Expert representative to them. By the time the project finished, a year down the line, I was working within that project environment and representing the project back to Customer Services.
At the time I started that, I had no idea about projects or IT. I didn’t know there was such a job as a Business Analyst and I kind of fell into it by accident. By the end of that year of working on that project, I had picked up enough and I got the opportunity basically to stick to it and carry on that type of career, rather than having to go back onto the phones.
I have worked on a whole load of different roles since then. As a sort of evolution of an Analytics career, I was a BA for a while, then I led a team and later I became a Business Architect.
I wish I could say yes to that, but it was much more accidental than design.
I worked on lots of different milestone projects that were important and enjoyable to me at the time. But I couldn’t say I was aiming for anything, or I wasn’t taking my career in a particular direction because of this person or that person, or that aspiration.
I’m terrible with advice. I hesitate to offer it too much. From the point of view of Business Analysis as a career, I think it is helpful to have worked in other roles in order to move toward this particular job.
Because you are trying to help people solve business problems and understand ways of working, having some experience in some other job is helpful rather than just learning the tools and jargon on an IT degree, and then, straight after graduation, you’re going into BA types of jobs. I think it’s nice to have a period of being in an HR team or a Marketing team or a Customer Service team or something, where you get a sense of how work is done before you start thinking about changing it.
It’s the small business feel. It’s the fact that it’s a small team and it’s growing. It’s feeling like I’ve got a lot of influence and not just wading through a corporate treacle to get something done. I am feeling a part of a very supportive culture already. We’re all looking out for what is best to do next.
In terms of work accomplishments, I’m a potted history of mobile communications because I worked on projects and programmes that launched the first 3G Network, the first BlackBerry, the first iPhone in the UK… I did a bit of 4G.
When I try to explain Business Analysis to people who don’t work in business and change, I struggle. I’ve never got a nice pithy way of saying what Business Analysis is about without it becoming horrible corporate speak. But saying I worked to bring the iPhone to the UK is something people understand. That’s something I could say at a party! So that’s quite a nice one.
And personal successes and so on, I don’t know. I’m very bad at tracking all of that. I think I live a reasonably happy, middle-class, family-man lifestyle and that’s a triumph of its own in this day and age, isn’t it?
One of the bits of feedback I frequently receive is not only do I use too many long words, I use too many words in general, so narrowing it down to one is hard! I’ll go back to supportive.
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