Bridging a Business' Gap With Business Analyst Skills

Bonus: certificate program graduate Heather Sheehan taps into a California dream

More than 10 years of career-building experience led Heather Sheehan to her business analyst role with The Bountiful Company, the parent company of Puritan’s Pride and formerly, Vitamin World.

“I started at The Nature’s Bounty when I was 20 years old, handling customer service calls,” recalls Heather. “In 2010, I was promoted to supervisor.”

The arrival of her first daughter brought on the realization that it was time to make some career moves to benefit herself and her child’s future. “In late 2013, I applied for a Web QA analyst position at The Nature's Bounty and began in that role in 2014.

“Working as an analyst, I really learned the ropes of our IT department, as well as our business functionalities and processes,” she says.

You might think Heather would be satisfied in a career as a QA analyst. But her job was just a part of her even bigger picture.

“In 2018, I applied and interviewed for a business analyst role and obtained it,” she relates. “And after starting the role, I wanted to ensure I could add value and input to the team and continue and broaden my knowledge and education in information technology.”

A Bountiful Career

Business analysts lead efforts to define needs and design solutions that deliver value to stakeholder organizations. The complex role utilizes business strategy, operational processes and procedures, requirements management and subject matter expertise to lead organizations through complex changes.
All things Heather had been gaining with her career path at The Bountiful Company.

“Each of my roles have made me better at what I do today,” she says. “Working in customer care made me understand the business from a customer’s perspective, which is where any business should start from.

“Working in QA made it easier for me to understand the technical background and the end-to-end processes that make projects—small to large—come to fruition. I have been promoted and have worked in so many areas within the company.”

It was time to officially recognize the skills she used in her work.

“Continuing education is the best investment you can make in yourself.”

“I had spoken to my boss at the time about how I really wanted to get certified and obtain a certificate in business analysis,” says Heather. “I wanted to bring insight and knowledge to the team.

“I researched so many different programs. However, after reading about the Certificate Program in Business Analysis with UC Berkeley Extension, I knew it would be an online set of courses that I could do at my leisure for the most part. I’m a mom and that will always come first!

“I really liked the presentation of the program. It was also a part of a dream of going to Berkeley that I can make happen.”

Fulfilling part of the dream of getting a UC Berkeley–quality education wasn’t the only reason Heather chose to register for the program in October 2019. “The BA role was not heavily present in our division of the company,” she explains. “We had some business gaps that needed to be filled—such as in change management, risk assessment, Agile processes, et cetera—that I knew I could gain knowledge of by taking these courses.”

The courses in our Business Analysis program helped Heather achieve just that.

“The Business Solution Development and Delivery course really related the most to my current role. I found that to be very beneficial. However, all of the courses taught me necessary information to be successful.

“Instructors David Zhu and John Kirk were extremely helpful in answering questions pertaining specifically to what I can utilize today. They each gave advice on how to move forward with certain gaps and blockers that I was running into with my own role. The advice was great, and they were always so quick to respond. They also gave great feedback on projects and assignments, which really helped me understand what gaps I was not seeing at the time.”

Other students in Heather’s courses also provided new ways to think about the tools they were given.

“I ended up connecting with some of my fellow students through LinkedIn,” she says. “It's funny how you can live so far from people and be going through the exact same bumps in the road. The conversation pieces of the courses really helped me to see that even though we are learning the same tools, we are all using them differently: me with IT and an e-commerce business, others working at a financial institution.”

Future Goals: Hers and Yours

The completion of the Certificate Program in Business Analysis has added value to Heather’s career within The Bountiful Company:

“The completion of the courses have been recognized by my company and are appreciated as I have assisted in creation of a change-management process and risk and bug trackers.

“On a daily basis, I am planning requirements, managing requirements, creating user stories, creating risk assessments and implementing change management; I am using tools I have learned through each course.

“I also have a decent knowledge now on the Agile process, which is very up and coming and important to learn in the technology world today!”

Heather’s next career goals are to use the knowledge from each course to continue to improve her contributions to the team and the business, continue on her path to becoming a BA and work more on the technical pieces of the e-commerce world.

She is up for the challenge and believes that other potential business analysis students in similar situations can be, too, if they are prepared to invest in themselves.

“Working full time, family commitments, et cetera, make it a hard road to travel. However, continuing education is the best investment you can make in yourself, and I know it will benefit my career in the long term. It is a challenge, but it's a challenge you will complete and know that you have gained so much knowledge that it will change your path for the better!”