Career Paths, Advice

Storyboarding 101: A Business Analyst’s Perspective – Nicole Wang

Published 23 Sep 2019 by Isabelle Yuen

Nicole Wang is a Business Analytics Manager in the Mobile Marketing & Sales team. She is inquisitive, passionate, and possesses a desire to learn about data analytics, allowing her to apply her technical knowledge and people skills to her work as a business analyst. She tells us more about her role as a business analyst, sharing significant moments in her career, and offering advice to aspiring and inquisitive minds.

Q. What's your background and what was your first role at Singtel?

A. I majored in database management at Monash University. I am not and have never been a hard-core computing person, but I do enjoy learning about the meaning behind data, and how to make use of it. With that in mind, I desired to join a company that would allow me to work with data and develop this skillset. I was hired for a Data warehousing project in Singtel’s IT department back in 1997 to design data in a holistic manner so it's easy for the business to use.

Q. Tell us more about your experience in that first project.

A. I had an understanding director, Ong Beng Choo, who understood people at the ground level and acknowledged each of our contributions by according due recognition and rewards. Often times, I had to return to work on weekends to ensure the smooth transition of the data feed into data warehousing. However, the passion and desire I had to be the first mover and to be surrounded with people eager to share their knowledge and learn new skills kept me going.

Q. How did you transition into a business analyst role with the Consumer Marketing team?

A. I had the opportunity to rotate into different roles because of the exposure of working with other teams. I was approached by another manager for a database administration role where I learned many new skills, some of which include backing up and cloning systems. In that role, I engaged my business users frequently to review the queries that they were running to understand their intentions with the data.

That’s how I learned what the marketing teams were using these queries for. Unfortunately, when users fire a lot of queries without getting effective results, it can overload the system, which causes a drain on resources. As such, I started to conduct courses for my users so they were able to create more efficient queries by improving their understanding of the data. Taking the initiative to improve user processes opened the doors for me to subsequent opportunities as a business analyst, when the leaders from marketing teams offered me roles as they were confident that I understood both the data and their business needs. On this front, honing managerial and people skills is just as important as acquiring technical knowledge.

Q. What are some of the memorable moments in your career?

A. In 2008, I was part of the RSVP team for Illuminate, the biggest telco event of the year. It took us many months to plan for it, and we managed to generate a lot of leads. I also had a good leader, Kai Hock, who not only empowered the team to make decisions but also helped to bridge all the gaps and facilitate our work. He also took the time to listen to my suggestions and feedback, which made me feel important and valued as an employee.

I also received a SPOT award from the marketing team when I was in my database administration role. It was memorable because Mark Chambers, the leader who founded the first Analytics department in Singtel, was someone who really treasured and believed in your work. After doing a lot of little projects well, he singled me out to help roll out a full suite marketing campaign tool, which required several tests around server migration. All this was happening while I was pregnant with my third child, and I was under a lot of pressure, but with the help and support of my co-workers and supervisors, I managed to perform. Mark was the one who nominated me for the SPOT award for my contributions, and I was incredibly touched by this, because I only felt that I was just doing my job, but the acknowledgement of my efforts gave me a boost of confidence in my work.

Q. What advice do you have for aspiring business analysts (BA)?

A. As a business analyst, you have to question whether the tool will get you the answer you want, because business analytics is all about storyboarding. In order to create the narrative, you need be able to interpret data after understanding the objective. It is also crucial to always reach out and build good relationships with your stakeholders. So far, I have been incredibly blessed with good stakeholders with whom I can enjoy pleasant and meaningful conversations, and hence forge strong relationships.

The most essential skill is to learn how to ask interesting questions by taking a step back to consider all the datasets, such as to find the relationship between data. The nature of the tool that you’re using, be it Tableau, SQL, Trifactor, Python, Cloudera, is not important. It is vastly more important to know how to use your chosen tool to accomplish what is necessary for the job. Speaking from my experience as a business analyst, there will always be new tools that you will have to learn for the job, so it is infinitely more important to hone your transferable skills in being adaptable and flexible.

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