A business analyst takes a detailed, critical look at how a company operates, to find ways to make it more efficient or more profitable. A business analyst may work inside a dedicated department of a large firm, or may be hired in as an outside consultant. You'll typically gather evidence of how the business is doing, run the figures through a computer model to see how the business would fare in a range of scenarios and then present your findings.
You may be asked to scrutinise a range of things, from the number of departments and tiers of management, to sales and marketing figures, or the cost and efficiency of suppliers. As well as a good understanding of statistics and a sharp eye for detail, you'll need plenty of tact and diplomacy, as you'll be offering constructive criticism direct to the movers and shakers who head up the company.
There are a lot of specialist technical terms in business and analysts are always coming with more. You'll need to be good with jargon and to be able quickly to get a handle on new business vocabulary. You'll need good "people skills" too, as a lot of the job is about meeting clients, suggesting the scope of future projects and making presentations about quite abstract issues, but in a way that compels and convinces.
- Ability to spot significant trends and patterns in data
- Ability to design computer models to investigate a range of business scenarios
- Sound judgment in assessing the viability of new business projects
- Excellent presentation and communication skills