Grayce Goes International: Analyst Insight From Amsterdam

Grayce Analyst James Jones shares his experience as a Business Analyst at Europe’s largest sportswear manufacturer.

 

I joined Grayce in March 2016, and to date I have had three challenging and varied client opportunities, spanning three very different industries. I recently completed a short term client placement in Amsterdam at Europe’s largest sportswear manufacturer.

 

As part of the ongoing service transition programme on site, I was supporting the client in providing comprehensive details of its European Customer Service Operations processes. My role on site involved mapping, reviewing, consolidating, and providing improvement recommendations for each Operations area.

A Day In The Life Of A Business Analyst 

I was training for the Frankfurt Ironman when I started on client site. So, three mornings a week I would set the alarm for 5.00am to swim at the local swimming pool. I’d usually run to the pool for around 5.30am, swim 3-4km, and run back to the hotel for breakfast, where I would have a quick scan through my emails and get into the office just after 8am.

 

The client’s Amsterdam office is unlike anywhere else I have worked. It looks fairly standard from the outside, but with breakout areas throughout the office, the latest technology, games consoles, sports courts and coached training sessions during the day – it was constantly a hive of activity.

 

As soon as I got into the office, most mornings I would have a brief informal catch up with my Portfolio Lead. Because of the tight timescales, and that my deliverables were on the critical path of another project, this allowed me to provide visibility to a senior stakeholder on site and also a key channel to report any risks or issues. Each morning, the management team had a pulse call across the business. I attended this daily and it was a good chance to familiarise myself with key stakeholders, as well as being an invaluable tool in learning more about how the Customer Operations team operated.

A lot of my time on site involved eliciting information from key stakeholders; in the first few weeks I would typically have 3 or 4 meetings – or ‘mini workshops’ – a day. Each morning I would check my calendar and ensure I had all the necessary preparation in place and that I had key stakeholders attending each meeting. I would also review my to do list that I’d write up at the end of each day, so I could easily create a plan of action for the day ahead. After the morning meetings, everyone would take lunch at the same time. I’m not sure whether this is typical in Dutch culture, or something adopted by the client, but it’s definitely something we should do more often in the UK!

 

When dealing with so much information, I would often ensure I wasn’t in back to backs to allow sufficient time to start documenting outputs and any follow up actions. As time went on at the client, more of my day was spent documenting findings and presenting back to stakeholders. During the first few weeks it would be a cycle of: meet, document, present output, review, and finalise. Whereas the later weeks were spent focusing on the recommendations and improvements based on the initial work.

 

Following completion of the project, a central repository was handed over to the client – an invaluable tool, not just for the new service provider, but also to any new starters on site. In addition, the result of the project enabled the team to make changes to existing processes.

 

In my down time, I did my best to take advantage of being in such a beautiful city. I was based a short metro ride outside of Amsterdam centre, so I ventured there once or twice a week and made the most of seeing the sites. My other evenings were spent running or cycling – often along the picturesque Amstel river.

What Grayce Means To Me

In terms of takeaways from this role, it really reiterated just how much I have learned on my Grayce journey over the past three years. I was able to hit the ground running on day one with a clear idea of how best to approach the project, and by the end of the second week I was comfortably ahead of plan. Secondly, as with all Grayce clients, it opens your eyes to how different each industry is. Even during my short time on this project in Amsterdam, I learnt so much about the sportswear industry, customer insights, and customer service.

 

For me, the most important aspect of the Grayce Development Programme – without sounding too cliché – is its development opportunities. What I love about Grayce is just how different each Analyst role is. In my three years at Grayce, I have worked in PMO, Project Management, Business Analyst and Test Lead roles. I’m pleased to have had a wide range of experience to bring to future roles as I pursue a career in Project Management.

 

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