I am currently based at a large South African bank where I am delivery lead to a business analyst team and also perform the role of business analyst. As part of a larger regulatory and compliance programme, our team has been tasked with documenting the business requirements for three data marts within the Credit Risk area of the business. The programme comprises multiple work streams, all working toward achieving compliance with the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision's regulation 239 principles for effective risk data aggregation and risk reporting.
Initially assigned to the client team for three months, I have now been with this client for over three years, working on different projects and fulfilling different roles. What I enjoy about my current role is that in addition to managing people and delivery, I also directly contribute to the deliverables, unpacking and helping the team understand processes related to Credit Risk products (e.g., credit cards). The role centres on data, which is my passion, and requires an analytical approach, which is my strength.
Typical deliverables include business processes, data flows and data dictionaries; all of which feed into the design of dimensional data marts. We are currently engaging business stakeholders to gather information and interacting with the design team to facilitate the creation of a conceptual design. The next phases of the project will be liaison with the development team to build the data marts and user acceptance testing to ensure the solution meets business requirements.
In consulting, it’s highly unlikely that any two days will be exactly the same. During the drive to work, I mentally go through my 'to do' list to plan my day. However, when I get to the office, a phone call, email or meeting may compel me to shift focus.
Some days are dictated by the client’s pressing issues while on others I get to whittle down my own list. Every day calls for flexibility and a sharp mind. One thing I have had to make peace with is that I may not get to everything. As I cross off items, more are added. In addition, priorities can shift quickly—something that is a minor blip on my radar can suddenly become urgent.
From a project perspective, if I’m not in meetings with stakeholders for information-gathering or walk-throughs, I’m reviewing the teams’ work or documenting my own. I’m also kept busy with non-project work such as contract management, assisting with the sales process, contributing to proposals or upskilling myself.
I enjoy a deep sense of accomplishment when I’ve completed a complex task or deliverable. I’ve also become addicted to being constantly busy. So much so, that, on days when I don’t have urgent deadlines, I feel a little lost.
My empathetic nature ensures that I am unable to ignore the plight of those less fortunate. I am passionate about giving back and showing gratitude through volunteering and charity. However, I believe that being altruistic does not mean complete self-sacrifice. If you align your efforts to a passion, it’s sustainable.
I started volunteering at the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) during high school and was a member of Amnesty International and volunteered at a disability centre while at university. When I started working, my love for dogs led me to begin volunteering at a local animal shelter on weekends. It was a win-win for me as I got to spend Saturdays with dogs despite living in an apartment.
Another of my passions is teaching. I have provided weekly math’s tuition at a local children's home after work. I have also, over the past year, funded various social initiatives at my old primary school. These include sponsoring school tuition and uniforms, and donating food for the feeding programme.
And then there’s my love of travelling. With the fluctuating exchange rate, my husband and I made a conscious decision to explore local destinations and contribute to the local economy, and that is what we have been doing for the past two years. We take time out with friends and family to visit places like Parys, the Vaal, Swaziland, Pilanesberg, Cape Town, George, Knysa and Port Edward. The experience is highly recommended.
I remember my first six months at Accenture as being particularly difficult. I felt I didn't fit the typical consultant profile—i.e., someone who is extremely confident and incredibly intelligent. I felt particularly insecure during client interactions. The coping mechanism I developed was to build confidence in my ability to acquire knowledge. Have faith in your abilities and learn quickly. Someone said “confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong”. I can attest to that.
It’s important to understand what drives you as this defines your priorities in life. Don’t compare yourself to your peers and fall short; determine your own path and work to your strengths. A smart man once said “if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”.
Another philosophy I’ve lived by is to chase experience, not money. Money is something that follows naturally once you have the expertise, but the opportunity to develop is not guaranteed and should be seen as an investment in your future.
I truly believe that “integrity is doing the right thing even when no-one is watching”. This resonates with me and defines not only my work ethic but my approach to life. For a large part of my life, I’ve felt unlucky. Then, in my late twenties, I came across the quote “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity”. Since then, my luck has changed.
I believe life is as complicated as you make it and success can be achieved simply. I live by the philosophy that “to be successful, you don’t have to do extraordinary things; just do ordinary things extraordinarily well”.