Profile: Suzanne Birkett, Assistant Business Analyst at Origin Housing, and CW15 trainee Author: GUEST POST     
Date: 12th May 2016



Suzanne Birkett is a current Charityworks trainee and Assistant Business Analyst at Origin Housing. More than half way through her placement Suzanne talks about the day-to-day responsibilities of her job, the challenge of being new to IT, and the skills she’s developed as a result of conducting her impact research.


 “I think it’s really important to remember that organisations in the non-profit sector require the majority, if not all and more, of the roles and skills required outside the sector.”


 

Suzanne, can you explain what you do in your day-to-day role as an assistant business analyst?

I work with different areas of the business to identify processes and ways of working that can be improved. On a day to day basis this can include creating process maps, leading training or requirements gathering workshops and watching supplier presentations. I’m currently doing a piece of work on how people across Origin use technology, and will soon be involved in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) implementation and configuration.

 

Has your experience in the non-profit sector so far enabled you to develop skills you feel are universally important in any profession?

I think it’s really important to remember that organisations in the non-profit sector require the majority, if not all and more, of the roles and skills required outside the sector. On top of the business analysis skills that will be invaluable for if I ever move sectors, I’ve developed a huge number of universal skills from project management and juggling simultaneous workloads, to presentations skills, liaising between multiple stakeholders and even working with a wide range of personalities!

 

Have there been any particular high or low points during your experience working in your current job, and the non-profit sector as a whole, so far?

A low point was definitely proof-reading endless pages of requirements spreadsheets! Some high points have been working with many different areas of the business and through that gaining an understanding of how a housing association works end-to-end, and meeting lots of the people that make it happen, including the residents. It’s also really nice when your impact research is used by the organisation and you feel you’ve had a positive impact on the services that are being delivered, either internally or to customers.


“It’s great when your organisation can see your potential enough to throw you in at the deep end”


 

 Have you had to face up to any particular challenges?

An ongoing challenge has been coping with going into an IT role with almost no technical knowledge, and therefore sitting in multiple meetings, especially early on, where I didn’t have any idea what was being talked about. Although at times it has been frustrating, it’s great when your organisation can see your potential enough to throw you in at the deep end and know that you can get on with it. I’ve approached the situation as an on-the-job crash course and personal development opportunity, which includes putting myself forward for opportunities to implement these new skills and knowledge. It’s also been helpful to balance difficult tasks with those that play to your strengths, and to ask questions and seek out relevant training.

 

What was conducting your first piece of professional impact research like?

My first piece of impact research has been a really important part of my professional development and something that I have learnt a huge amount from. I hadn’t produced an impact research report before, so beyond gaining the practical skills regarding doing such a research piece, it was a really useful way of developing and implementing core professional skills required in any role such as communication, presenting information, gaining buy-in, and time and project management. It’s also a good confidence boosting knowing that you can add value to your organisation.

Most importantly it has taught me how to manage a research project in a dynamic business environment where information needs to be gained from and presented to people with multiple and competing priorities. You need to be aware of, and factor in, dependencies between people, processes and stages in the project, and be able to proactively cope with change and uncertainty. I really enjoyed producing something that was of use to my organisation and working with a number of external organisations, particularly as it was on a topic that I previously had little experience in. 

Thanks Suzanne.

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