Work experience gives grad an advantage

Photo by Greg Ehlers

For Edwin Yong, the path to becoming a business analyst wasn’t always clear. “I started in a retail environment,” he explains, “and I actually went to film school in my early twenties.” It wasn’t until he began working for BC Safety Authority (BCSA) that his future came into focus.

His work with BCSA—a self-funded organization that oversees the installation and operation of technical systems and equipment—began behind the front desk, and over time, evolved into that of a gas fitting exam invigilator. Most recently, he was promoted to client care supervisor. Each step of the way, Edwin learned more about the organization’s work: “I became an expert in my field and I understood the process from start to finish.”  

His expertise was soon recognized. “People kept pulling me into meetings because I was the subject-matter expert,” Edwin recalls. “We had business analysts within our organization who were enlisting my help... when I noticed what they were doing, I thought, ‘I have all this knowledge. I could do that.’”

To achieve his new goal, he knew he needed to return to school. After researching several different programs, he chose SFU Continuing Studies’ Business Analysis Certificate.

Photo by Greg Ehlers

Once again, his path wasn’t always clear. “I have the experience, but to be honest I just wasn’t sure if I was smart enough,” he says. “I’m 35 and my schooling wasn’t very vast when I was growing up; therefore, I was lacking that confidence.” 

But Edwin soon discovered that his capacity to learn far exceeded what he had originally thought. “I felt like I could utilize all my work experience and understand what my teachers were teaching more because I could actually apply it.”

For example, Edwin often used the concepts and themes learned in his Business Analysis: Team Dynamics and Leadership class at work. “That was really important to me because being a supervisor, I need to understand where people are coming from and what motivates them,” he says. “You will always have these light-bulb moments because you are applying everything you’re learning. I found it much easier to understand concepts and relate them to my work.”

Edwin now feels well prepared to join BCSA’s business analysis team. “It was good to think about my next step and where I can move to within my organization,” he says. “You have to do things like this to set yourself up for success.”

By Alison Brierley