20 November 2014

What it's like to work as a Junior Business Analyst at Westpac: Industry Placement Program

I did my Industry Placement Program at Westpac as a Business Analyst. I worked in the Rapid Digital Transformation Project which mainly focused on Business Lending. I consider myself lucky that I was able to work in a cross functional team comprising of the best talent from Westpac Bank, St. George Bank and McKinsey. I felt excited and nervous that I would be working and learning from the best. For example, my colleague Tom who was studying the same major as me but who was doing his course part time made me feel at ease amongst the team. Moreover Andy, the project manager, motivated me when he told me about how he didn't actually know how to operate a photocopying machine when he started working.

My work environment was interesting. The RDT team was isolated from the rest of the building which made me feel like I was part of something confidential. There were no walls to separate the various streams. It was designed this way to encourage knowledge sharing.

Unlike other IPP students, I did not get any formal induction training. My first day involved a 3 hour meeting where I tried my best to make sense of what was going on. This was a big achievement for me considering my short attention span. After the meeting, my manager clarified all the terms and jargon that I noted down which I didn't understand from the meeting .

My main focus going into the program was how I would make an impact in the workplace. In the very first week, I took the opportunity to give a thank you speech to the team for organising the weekly drinks event (after which everyone knew there was an intern in the team). I made full use of this opportunity to not only network on a professional and personal level with my co-workers and managers, but also to learn a diverse range of skills from other areas. For example,working as a Business Analyst meant that I worked closely with I.T Analysts which enabled me to get a good understanding of backend processes. I believe this was really beneficial for me.

Throughout the program, people would ask me how I was able to manage my time with uni. To be honest I was not impressed with my time management skills. I compromised some of my study time for work and social life; so I was disappointed with some of my exam marks. The most difficult task during placement however was doing a presentation on Agile project delivery methodology. It was a skill that was well sought after in the industry but one that I didn't have any prior knowledge of. Nevertheless, I knew I wanted to complete the project because it would push me out of my comfort zone and challenge me. My colleagues helped me to get a good theoretical understanding of the framework. My approach was to step back from the issue at hand and to look at it holistically in order to identify the areas of application and areas which could be improved. After the presentation I was considered one of the agile gurus in the workplace. I believe this skill will be beneficial for me when I enter the corporate world as a Business Analyst.

Towards the end of the placement, Westpac offered me the opportunity to continue with the team until the completion of the project. Upon completion of the project my Linkedin connections went from 0 to 150 and I have been continuing my communications with my co-workers and managers. In addition, my colleagues recommended that I apply for a role at McKinsey. It was a big sense of achievement to receive this kind of recogition from a big 4 bank and the world’s no. 1 consulting firm.

I’m surprised with how much I have grown both professionally and personally over the duration of the placement. I can still remember the night before the placement when I was asking my friends about what it was like to work in corporate. Now, I have experienced it myself and feel confident in my career goal: to become a well-known Business Analyst.

A casual Friday lunch with the team

Sakkaf Mohammed
Current student at the University of Sydney Business School

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