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How does one become a business intelligence analyst?

Before becoming a business analyst at Medicago, I was in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) as an air traffic controller, then an intelligence officer, for a total of a bit over 20 years. I then jumped ship to go serve in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) for a further 4 years, also as an intelligence officer, under a Commonwealth transfer program. While serving in Australia, I had identical twin girls for which I wanted a more stable lifestyle. I then decided it might be time to reorient my career from full-time military officer to a civilian career that would not require so many moves and deployments.

So I moved back to Canada and became a business analyst, leveraging my military intelligence analyst experience and applied it to another field. Although researching foreign military armament was very interesting, working for Medicago is also extremely rewarding. I now research the human body’s arsenal against viruses: the immune system, vaccines and the companies making them. I have learned so much since I started at Medicago in October 2019, just before the pandemic, and feel very fortunate to work alongside such talented and scientifically focussed individuals.

On top of your busy job, you have young twin daughters and you’re working on a PhD, how do you manage to juggle all this?

Outside of working hours, I work towards completing my PhD in psychology. It’s a long-haul part-time endeavour, but I hope to finish in the next couple of years. With full-time employment and two young daughters, time is the rarest resource! Although not gifted at math, I figured out years ago that other than working way faster, the only way to have more time was to sleep less. So I usually only sleep 6 hours a night so I can work on my thesis a bit every morning before my daughters wake up and before work. Evenings and weekends are dedicated to family time. Work hard, play hard!

Your careers have been marked by rather masculine work environments.

Yes, both my careers have been male-dominated (in the case of the military) and predominantly male (in the science field). I was never easily intimidated and often did not take notice I was a minority as a female officer. I have two mottos: 1. What is worth doing is worth doing well (and that starts with making your bed in the morning!); and 2. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it (sometimes the best rewards are for those who dare and try a little harder). As such, I work hard, prepare well, exert confidence, and try to be the best I could be in my profession. Not to prove myself to others, but to maintain my professional worth and improve my own performance.

What are your values and what advice would you give to your daughters so that they dare to take the road they want to?

I like these two questions and will answer them together. I value honesty, loyalty, and perseverance. I think these values are as relevant within the military as in the pharmaceutical field. Honesty as a personal value, and also in the sense of seeking the truth, backed by information and facts.

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I actually marvel at the high ratio of women at Medicago and think that is quite refreshing. I believe that in the end, skill, effort and perseverance will prevail over attributes people were born with, such as gender or colour. I am thankful for the path other trailblazing women have beaten for us and I try to honour their achievements by taking advantage of all the opportunities they opened up for the future generations. I would advise my daughters to do the same: develop themselves according to their interests and skills, as well as take every opportunity offered to them in life. Then it will be up to them to persevere and accomplish what they set out to do!