Without a doubt, one of the most memorable accomplishments in my career history has been achieving second place in the 2019 UK IT Awards Business Analyst of the Year competition.
A question I often get asked is why I put myself forward for the award and if it was worth it. While there is no single reason I took part, it was most definitely a very positive experience.
One of the primary reasons I entered was because I had recently transitioned into a Business Analysis role. I felt the award process would give me a chance to test myself against other Business Analysts in different companies and industries.
At the time of my application, I had completed a large project that had an impact across the whole company I was working in. I had applied a variety of techniques and methodologies during this project which were very relevant to the award. This was a great opportunity to document all of my work, reflect on my achievements and accomplishments and identify any areas for development.
The award created many opportunities that I had not anticipated, one of which was a profile boost. Of course, the first thing I did after the awards ceremony was post my achievement on LinkedIn ! I'd be exaggerating to say it went viral, but this piece of self-publicity resulted in a large amount of attention. It was a great promotion to my online presence which nowadays is an important part of your career.
On a similar theme, the award can really help lift your Personal Brand. It is very easy to tell people that you are an expert in your chosen field, but it can be a difficult thing to prove. The award provides undeniable proof of your capabilities, determination and success. It is a way for other people to easily recognise your ambition and can elevate you into positions of knowledge and authority.
Finally, perhaps one of the most important factors in anyone's career is job progression. Most people are striving to advance in their profession, and it can sometimes be difficult to know the best path forward. Any type of work-related recognition is going to help, and this award is a nationally recognised achievement. Since the award I have been approached many times about job opportunities. And I have recently been given the opportunity to move into a more senior position with increased responsibility.
The Entry Process
For those who have not previously submitted an entry into the UK IT Industry Awards, I should start by saying that the whole process is very straightforward and clear. There is nothing complicated or difficult, and nobody is trying to catch you out.
The entry procedure starts with a written submission made up of a number of sections such as Professionalism, Innovation and Success. You have a limited number of words you can submit for each section, so it is important to make every sentence count. My recommendation would be to write the submission using your project achievements as the central part of the narrative, with different project tasks building and supporting the story.
Once you are happy with your entry, you will need to submit this through the official registration website. If you are lucky enough to advance to the next stage, you will be notified by email along with details of the "Judging Day". The email I received informed me that I would be taking part in an interview with the Final Judging Panel at The Etihad Stadium in Manchester.
As I was not sure what to expect during the interview process, I took the time to carefully prepare and review what I had written. This pre-interview study is certainly worth the effort as the Judging Panel will have read your entry prior to meeting you and they will also have your submission on the day.
Once the day of the interview arrived, I made my way to the Etihad Stadium for registration. As I had travelled up the previous evening, I was able to arrive in plenty of time and make some final preparations over a coffee and biscuit.
When the scheduled time came for my interview, I was shown to a room containing a long table with three judges sat behind it. In front of the table was an empty seat. As I write this, it sounds like I was there for an interrogation. In reality, I was put at ease straightaway and there was nothing intimidating about the experience.
Each of the judges asked me questions about myself and my entry, and they were interested in digging deeper into some of the experiences I had written about. The judges seemed genuinely interested in finding out more about what I had done, along with my thought processes.
The final piece of the process is the award ceremony itself, which took place in Battersea Evolution, a wonderful purpose-built event centre in London. The evening consisted of dinner, music, and of course, the announcements of all the winners and runners up from each of the categories.
Before going in, I had assumed that if you were a winner or runner up you would have been told in advance of your accomplishment. As I had not been contacted, I went into the award ceremony expecting to leave empty handed at the end of the night. So, when my name was announced as Highly Commended in my Business Analyst of the Year category, I was probably the most surprised person on our table. To have your name read out and displayed on huge screens in front of 1,700 other IT professionals is a huge honour and something I will never forget.
I would urge anyone interested in entering the 2020 UK IT Awards to give it a try. If you need any advice, I'd be happy to help.