“I love the business side of tech – how can IT help a company?”

12th November 2020

Emma Duncan

Emma Duncan
Business Analyst

When I was growing up, we had a family computer in the house that we all shared, although it was kept in my bedroom because it was always me using it! I would spend hours building websites and things like that, quickly becoming the ‘tech expert’ in the family. At school I loved history, but also had a real passion for IT and computing, both of which I studied for A Level at college. It was there that something clicked into place for me; suddenly IT wasn’t just spreadsheets but actually building and creating things. We also started looking at the impact tech can have on a business, which I loved; once there was more of a ‘people’ focus to IT, I was sold.

I studied Business Systems Design at university because this was the area of tech that interested me most, based on my experiences at college. The course was all about how IT can help a business, but also why and how IT projects fail. We also took technical IT modules like database design and rapid development, often with the students on the ICT degree course. My course cohort was very small – just 20 – while the ICT group numbered about 200, of which just 15 were female. There wasn’t that many women on my course either and I did find it hard to settle in for a while, but as the time went on, I began to like being in the minority. You stand out a little as a women in a lecture hall packed with men, which gets you a bit more attention from the lecturers; they know you, and I wonder if they give you more of their time?

My degree was quite broad, which was just what I wanted but left me as a bit of a ‘jack of all trades’ and unsure as to what specific area of the tech sector would really suit me. It was when working on a summer placement that I was introduced to the role of a Business Analyst – I was employed under one, so understood what they did – and it seemed like just the job I could enjoy. Unfortunately, it was so hard to find work like that where I grew up in Teesside that I was advised to move south to find opportunities. I came to Oxfordshire for a graduate scheme in Harwell; it was a big move for me at the time, but it was such a great opportunity that I couldn’t resist it. That was nine years ago now and I’ve no regrets.

Working as a Business Analyst involves speaking to people from across the business to find out what’s needed – and why – in terms of a solutions, before creating a requirement document that will then be used for the build. You need buy-in from lots of different people, including the developers who will complete the build. At Nominet, where I’ve been employed as a Business Analyst since January 2020, I get to be involved in a whole range of different projects right from the discovery phase, having meetings with so many different, sometimes very technical people, which means there is always something new to learn. The diversity in terms of workload is fantastic and was exactly what I was looking for when I applied for this role.

Working in the tech sector is absolutely fascinating and what has surprised me is how many different jobs there are; it’s possible to find a role that suits your skills and interests and it’s certainly not all about coding, as so many people assume. Although part of me wanted to pursue my interest in history when I was considering my career options, I always sensed that ICT was becoming a big deal and there would be far more opportunities in that sector. My hunch was right, and there’s more variety than even I expected, plus I have grown to love IT more and more. From improving existing processes to helping build brand new systems my role brings a lot of variety and new opportunities to learn and meet people across the business.

The tech sector would appeal to anyone who enjoys understanding how things work but also how these tools can be used to help people and businesses, which is what so much of the technology jobs are about these days. The sector is such an exciting place to be employed within as things always changing and evolving – and there is so much to keep learning too. If you’re passionate about technology, just go for it; try things, read things, speak to people in the sector and you’ll soon find your niche.

Find out more about careers at Nominet on our website.

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