IRM Business Analysis Conference Europe 2020 Review

1st October 2020

Last week some of our people had the opportunity to speak at and attend the IRM Business Analysis Conference 2020. In a break from the norm, for the first time ever, the conference was held virtually. Delegates from all over the globe were able to attend the conference and to listen to all of the great speakers, network in a whole new way and visit the virtual booths, all from the safety of their own homes or offices.

The conference was a huge success and we were so pleased to be able to catch up with our BA colleagues about the conference. We asked (Business Analyst) Lucy, (Trainee Consultant) Sam and (Head of Business Analysis) Lyn to reflect on their experiences of the BA conference.


I attended one of the very first IRM Business Analysis Conferences many years ago, as a newly qualified Business Analyst and remember being somewhat over-awed by the experience. The venue was alive with seminars, presenters and sponsors and I must admit I had some doubts about how a virtual format would replicate this.

In short: Really well

There were so many interesting and informative sessions to choose from, that I’m thankful all the sessions will be available following the conference

Any concerns that the calibre of guest speakers would suffer from the virtual platform, were instantly quashed. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one incredibly touched by Nigel Owens’ brave, moving and inspirational Keynote on ‘Dealing with Diversity’ on the first day. The opening Keynote on Day 2 particularly resonated with me though, with a call for leaders to offer ‘Clarity, Certainty and Hope’ from Rene Carayol. His utterly engaging storytelling meant I was spellbound, but moreover his message of the importance of culture, leadership, coaching and authenticity and the power of empathy echoed my own approach to my career.

It felt that was somewhat of a theme across many of the Conference speakers, perhaps due to the challenges we’ve all had to face this year.. Personal favourites were Bradley Stott’s talk on the importance of collaboration and communication in ‘How to Move from a Good BA to a Great BA’ and Gillian Rae’s take away of ‘Be Playdough’ in ‘The ‘S’ is for Shapeshifter’. I’ve always said that being a BA is as much about the relationships you build across the business, as it is about the hard skills you bring with you and that a BA should be the most agile member of any project team.

A special mention must go to David Beckham’s ‘The Mythic BA’ though. As a bit of a nerd, his wonderfully insightful and imaginative talk really struck a cord, full of references to Lord of the Rings, Star Trek and fantasy culture. I shall forever aim to be the perfect blend of Wizard, Soothsayer, Guide and Bard!


The agenda was jam packed with lots of really interesting talks and speakers. Myself and Will Izzard were speaking at this conference and were asked to record our talk in advance. This had many benefits as we didn’t have the usual nerves on the day, although watching our talk play back to us live turned out to be a pretty harrowing experience as nobody likes to watch themselves speak in public do they? Saying that, we had lots of interaction and discussion during our session, which also spilled over into the live chat room.

I really loved the chat rooms during the conference and the virtual stands. It was great to be able to see who was chatting and jump in on discussions that were running. This really helped to feel connected as a conference participant. Also the stand competitions and give-aways catered to those of us that like to collect the stand freebies and created excellent opportunities for further collaboration around answers to questions.

One of the main highlights of the conference for me was the BA Conference Europe Extra Live broadcast that was organised and run by Adrian Reed at Blackmetrics. It brought a really live feel to the conference and was pretty much a mini conference in its own right. The interviews conducted brought great insights and conversation to a conference that otherwise was conducted through chat rooms.


Attending a “virtual” conference was a first for me. Initially I was a little sceptical how it would all work and thought “Would it be as engaging as a face to face conference? Would I be able to interact with other delegates in a meaningful way? Would the technology hold up?…”

Well, I am glad to say it was a fantastic experience and very well executed. So much so that I soon found that I forgot about the “virtual” nature of it. Perhaps I even got more out this virtual conference than one run face to face. Could it be the future of conferences?

Other than our very own Lyn Girvan and Will Izzard of course, I found the opening talk by Nigel Owens MBE to be a really engaging story on dealing with adversity. I felt a real privilege to hear his perspective on being true to yourself.

Being a graduate in CMC and at the beginning of my BA career, I also enjoyed the launch of the Young BA group. Kay Hardy and Lauren Howes have created a community of young business analysts with the intention to network, share experiences and promote learning in the profession at an early stage.

It was also great to see emerging themes within the industry. I noticed that a lot of the talks and topics explored how BA’s could/should incorporate digital skill-sets to supplement the core skills and responsibilities of a BA. Topics such as cyber security, AI/machine learning, data science and user research were all very popular.