Anelisa Kasper: I’m responsible for my own growth in my field

Anelisa Kasper
@lisakaspero is a business analyst & passionate about growing start-ups as well as herself Click To Tweet

It’s time for you to meet one of the people that make the SLA website run smoothly. We’re talking about our contributors who selflessly share their writing with us. Anelisa Kasper is an IT consultant but she’s taught us about mentorship, handling conflict in start-ups and mastering the art of public speaking.

Her area of expertise is business analysis and her focus is growth. Anelisa Kasper has dipped her toes in both the corporate and start-up worlds, and she aims to inspire young people in both worlds.

Would you say you chose to be a business analyst or that the profession chose you?

I was lucky enough to choose to become a business analyst. After I finished my honours degree, and having had extensive exposure to Information Systems, I was unsure which career path I wanted to pursue.

When I graduated, there wasn’t as much information about the profession as there is now, so I wasn’t sure what the business analyst profession entailed. When I joined the company I currently work for, I made sure to express that I wanted to pursue business analysis as my career.

Because I had just come out of university, the company was very supportive with my decision even though it was not in the technical part of IT.

How do you plan to grow in your field?

For me, growth will come from more experience. Over the years, I’ve seen how broad the business analysis profession is and have come to realise that you can’t get all that experience in one year (unless you’re exposed to different projects at a short space of time!)

Since I started as a BA, I’ve wanted some sort of guideline on how to grow. I understood that the progression was from junior level, to intermediate, to senior, then principle level. All those levels have underlying skills that I need to work towards for my role. I do research on what skills one needs to have for all levels, and I usually set goals to achieve certain things according to that information each year.

For me, growth will come from more experience - Anelisa Kasper Click To Tweet

When I started as a junior almost 3 years ago, I can safely say I didn’t know much about my role. Fortunately, I was part of a major project and that gave me great exposure to what it means to be a business analyst in the field. After 2 years and a promotion later, I evaluated what I needed to improve on with my skills. I spoke to my line manager about getting more process analysis experience, a month later I was in a process analysis project.

In the end, I’m responsible for my own growth in the BA field. It’s important to know your areas of growth, and what will make you more marketable if you want to stay in that field, or even move to a new one. I’ve been lucky enough to have seen gaps, spoken up, and received opportunities for immediate experience.

Of course, I’ve also had cases where my company couldn’t accommodate the growth I needed at the time. In those cases, I’ve made a way for my own growth by looking for those experiences myself outside of my company.

What advice will you give other women looking to be business analysts?

Do your research and make sure that it’s what you want to do, as with any career. Because this field is part of the ICT industry, we need more women in the business analysis field. Most people study a degree in the IT space and become business analysts after graduating.

I have also come across many people in the field who do not have an ICT background. So if you want to be a BA, do your research. Join forums that bring many people together to discuss everything business analysis. This opens up a world of information; engage in those forums and ask questions.

How do you think being involved in other industries will grow your expertise? Which industries are you interested in? Why?

It grows your experience. As a business analyst, you want to be able to get into any industry and work towards providing a solution that will make the business more sustainable. The BA field has its underlying principles that you can use in any industry, but within an industry, most companies face similar challenges.

Working across industries and companies means I’ve been exposed to both structured and unstructured environments. The broad work experience has allowed me to gain experience in the telecommunications, electrical and canopy cleaning and banking industries and all those work differently, which makes the work fun. Some industries are more challenging than others, and it also depends on the scale of the company you’re doing BA work for.

I choose consulting because I enjoy being on different projects. For example, 6 months consulting for one of SA’s top banks, then leaving to help a family business in the electrical and canopy cleaning industry. This allows me to be exposed to completely different people, processes and technologies/products.

It’s important to know your areas of growth, find where you're lacking and speak up @lisakaspero Click To Tweet

What advice will you give to a start-up looking to develop long-term solutions?

For start-ups looking to develop long-term solutions, it’s important to constantly be aware of trending technologies; as well as understanding them and how they will benefit your start-up. We live in a digitized world, where technology has taken over how we do things.

For instance, at the tech incubator and accelerator I was part of, our entrepreneurs were able to use cutting edge technologies to assist them in the long-term. We helped them do research on these technologies so that they could better utilise them and in some instances, build start-ups around them.

Tell us about your personal project portfolio. How have you helped young people reach their entrepreneurial goals?

My personal project portfolio includes joining the tech incubator and accelerator in East London as a research officer. My role was to guide entrepreneurs in conducting research and identify market trends for various technologies that will be of benefit to their start-ups. I created research and writing manuals so they could have a point of reference for when they conduct research.

Then, I joined the team fully when we had to pull off an all-women’s hackathon and conferences which needed to be planned within a tight deadline. I became the Project Manager of the organizing committee. We also had women entrepreneurs from our incubator participate in the 72-hour hackathon. It was a successful event, and from there I was appointed the Head of Project Management.

Anelisa Kasper: As a business analyst, you want to be able to get into any industry Click To Tweet

What will your career goals be in 2017? How will you ensure you meet your goals?

Because I’m still new in my BA journey, it becomes easier to set new goals every year. There are so many things I still need to do for growth in the field. My goal for 2017, from a career perspective is to continue growing and I am lucky enough to be starting a major project for one of SA’s biggest banks. I know the kind of goals I want to achieve through this project, that will assist me in getting to the next level of consultancy.

In terms of my personal portfolio, I want to continue writing for other organisations and also create a formal platform for my own personal blog. The content I write will always be centred on growth, entrepreneurship, and empowerment of people, mostly women. I also want to reach a bigger audience, even though I’m a young woman writing of her experiences and other people’s journeys. I want those stories to be heard on a bigger scale.

A young lady just recently asked me to mentor her. I want to work towards mentoring more young people in the future. I want to not only make a different through writing, but also through continuous interaction with more women.

We want your stories! Tell us what amazing things women are doing in your communities here.

Jeanette Theu: When you try to be like someone else you limit yourself

Jeanette Theu

Women in tech will likely remain a buzz word for a while. Tech is one of those industries that everyone would like to see more of a gender balance in. Jeanette Theu is one woman trying to correct that balance. The marketing manager for MTN Business Private Sector, Jeanette has experience in both the enterprise and startup worlds.

In her pursuit of greatness and helping more people, she started a non-profit organization, GirlCode with her best friend. The organization aims to help bridge the gender gap inherent in the IT industry.

Jeanette shares with SLA her non-profit startup, GirlCode, and her thoughts on women in the tech industry.

How did the idea of GirlCode come about?

GirlCode was originally the idea of my best friend, Zandile, who organized the first GirlCode hackathon in 2014.  I helped with the arrangements and onwards, we started brainstorming on how we could turn helping women through hackathons into a non-profit organization. The idea materialized in 2015 when we registered GirlCode as a nonprofit organisation.

The idea has grown since we first started. We now see GirlCode not only as a vehicle for empowering young women through hackathons, but also a vehicle for creating programmes to teach young women how to code.

We’re also planning on growing our brand to start having corporate challenges, and implementing the Women Go Digital initiative. With the hackathon happening this year, our aim is making it bigger and better.

We’ve enjoyed sponsorships from great partners like Standard Bank, Entelect, MTN, and Microsoft. Also, JoziHub has granted us their co-working space to hold the hackathon.

What is it like working with your friend?

I think being co-founders with my friend is not such a bad thing as we get to spend a lot of time working together. We understand each other, but working a full-time job in addition to running GirlCode can get a bit daunting.

So, it’s important working with people who can constantly motivate and push you to do better. I feel very motivated working with her. We’ve known each other for over a decade which makes it easier to be transparent.

What are some of the challenges that GirlCode faces?

The main challenge we faced at the beginning was trying to get sponsorships. People get excited at the fact that it’s an initiative for women in the IT space. But it’s a bit challenging getting them to actually put in the extra effort to help.

However, it’s been great having people actually wanting to help with the initiative. Some of our partners have been involved in trying to get our next hackathon off the ground.

Some others are helping to get more girls in the IT industry. It’s been inspiring to see these companies making a difference in helping girls bridge the gap.

How do you approach corporate organizations? Do you go in directly or approach the right person to help?

For us, it is finding that one person within a company that would be our ambassador. Someone who would be our voice within the company and fight for us 100%.

We’ve been fortunate to have a couple of these people in the various corporates we’ve approached.  They believe in what we do and try their best to help us.

What has been the motivating factor in making sure that GirlCode becomes a success?

It’s about making a difference in someone else’s life and bringing each other up. It’s all about using the knowledge we have for the greater good.

What are your thoughts on the level of involvement of women in technology in Africa? How can we get more women interested in technology?

We are making small strides but still have a long way to go. We have powerful women in the tech industry and I think they can also give back in some way. More women in the industry need to pull some of the girls up by offering advice. We need mentors. We need women to empower young girls.

We try our best at GirlCode but we need the seasoned/successful women to guide young girls in pursuing this career. More women should work on making a change in their respective fields and encourage other women.

Any advice you’d give to young women/girls wanting to join the tech industry and becoming the next Jeanette?

In terms of wanting to be the next Jeanette, I’ll paraphrase something I heard Shonda Rhimes say, ”If you try to be like someone else you will always be second best, but you can always be the best you.”

When you try to be like someone else you actually limit yourself. Yes, it’s important to aspire to be like someone, but always be true to yourself.

We want to know about women in your communities doing amazing things! Tell us about them here.