Meet Mindy Bohannon, Agile Analyst and Xpert on our Innovation team. Mindy sat down with us to talk about the best part of being an Agile Business Analyst, mentoring in a hybrid world, and her favorite part about working at Excella.
What’s the best part of being an Agile Business Analyst?
As an Agile Business Analyst, I get exposure to a wide variety of work and team dynamics, so that keeps things interesting and exciting for me. For example, I’ve been a combination Analyst and Scrum Master on one team, and a BA Coach on a project with four scrum teams. I’ve learned there’s a lot of overlapping skills between Analysts and Scrum Masters. I get a lot of opportunities to flex my skills and experiment with new techniques!
What advice would you give to people looking to become a Business Analyst?
Focus on the skills you have and not your job title. If you can ask questions, listen and adapt, create and discuss process flows, and facilitate conversations to discover ideas, then you already have the foundational skills needed for Business Analysis roles. If you want to join the IT industry, then learn basic technical development and operation principles and consider getting an entry level certification.
One way to get your foot in the door is to become a QA Tester. Testing gives you exposure in the industry to understand how software development works and builds your knowledge of learning to work with requirements and development.
How did you first get started working in Agile? What is the difference between an Agile Analyst and a Business Analyst?
I had an early interest in Agile but struggled to find opportunities to get involved with Agile work in my career. Being someone who’s always been passionate about being involved in my local community, I joined the Cleveland chapter of GiveCamp, an organization dedicated to bringing IT professionals together to volunteer to support nonprofits. Since I wasn’t a developer, I volunteered my skills as Scrum Master, and I learned about stand-ups, co-locating, transparency, communication, and all the things that make Agile a powerful framework for team success.
Teaching and mentorship have been a big passion and a consistent part of your career. How were you introduced to teaching and what motivates you to keep educating?
I fell in love with teaching as a graduate student. Through a teaching assistantship, I taught the introductory MIS class. At the time, I was given a lot of freedom to engage students in creative ways through field trips and other assignments to support their learning of foundational MIS concepts. After leaving school, I found my way back to teaching and mentorship through speaking at chapter events and conferences, facilitating workshops, and being on the board of my local IIBA professional development chapter. Getting the opportunity to give back and connect with people is so important for ensuring I’m continuously learning and improving my skills and supporting my colleagues around me.
Now that some organizers and groups are starting to hold in-person events, your speaking schedule has turned hybrid. Is there a big difference between teaching in person and virtually? How are you navigating the hybrid environment?
I’m all about connecting with people. When you’re together physically you get more of a chance to get to know people’s stories and interests in a way that you can’t do virtually in a group setting. That can make presenting virtually difficult because facilitating a connection and being engaging is a key part of my teaching philosophy. But there are some unique things you can do virtually that you can’t get in-person – like having attendees from many areas of the country and around the world. It’s an evolving balance of learning and adapting, and I’ve been focusing on taking what I learn from each presentation to make the next one stronger. I’ve also been leaning on my community within Excella to help me practice. My colleagues give insightful feedback that has helped me tweak and improve my presentations as well.
Presenting is an important career building skill that we encourage at Excella. How can someone interested in growing their skills in this area and getting involved in the community get started?
I work with a lot of professionals who want to get started but find speaking intimidating. I always tell people this: start with a topic that you are passionate about and write up a five-paragraph essay on it. If you can do that, everything else can be researched, learned, and tweaked. You can read and cite articles by other leaders, speak to your colleagues for insight, and practice with people who give strong, constructive feedback. One specific type of opportunity – look for lightning talks at a meetup where you only have 10 minutes to share your ideas.
What do you do for fun?
Before 2020, I bought a ukulele, and I learned a few fun songs. Recently, I’ve picked it back up and am learning Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen.
What is your favorite part about working at Excella?
One thing I love about working at Excella is how much support I’ve received in my career and as a thought leader in speaking in the community and at local meetups, as well as nationwide conferences, like the national Women in Tech Conference. That has been consistent since day one of my seven-year tenure at Excella.
Excella’s support for employee career development and community engagement was apparent to me before I even started! During the interview process, I mentioned that I was accepted as a speaker in an upcoming conference and would need that day off. Without hesitation, my future manager told me that I wouldn’t have to take vacation, because all Excellians are allocated professional development hours and Excella would actually make the time to send me to the conference!