Episode 44 – Have The Integrity To Be Honest with Barbara Carkenord

 In Podcasts

Barbara Carkenord has designed, written and taught hundreds of classes in software design, project management, business analysis, software testing and communications skills. As an early member of the International Institute of Business Analysis, Barbara worked on the development of a worldwide standard for business analysis, the BABOK Guide. Barbara is also an author of several books including “Seven Steps To Mastering Business Analysis”.

In this episode Barbara Carkenord tells us why we need to have the integrity to be honest and why this can be challenging when working in software development. Barbara also shares her worst career moment, what she learnt from that experience and why you need to keep challenging yourself to try different things.


Time Stamped Show Notes

(00:22) – Phil introduces Barbara Carkenord

(00:57) – Barbara explains that she started her career in software development as a mainframe programmer

(01:13) – Barbara found that she loved software development and, in particular, engagement with stakeholders

(01:23) – The main enjoyment was in figuring out how to make their jobs easier which led Barbara into Business Analysis

(02:02) – Barbara also enjoys sharing knowledge that she has learned through training others

(02:13) – Barbara is on the board of directors of the IIBA, spreading the word of the value of business analysis

(02:38) – As well as working as a consultant for a couple of companies, including Blueprint Systems


(02:51) – Unique Career Tip: Barbara says that you should be as honest as you can be

(03:12) – At times honesty can be difficult in software development when you’re asked if you can do something

(03:24) – It’s often more comfortable to say “Yes, I can do that”

(03:33) – “Have the integrity to be honest, say what you mean and keep to your commitments”

(03:46) – It’s also important to admit mistakes. It’s okay to make mistakes because everyone does

(03:51) – Honesty and truthfulness leads to respect which is an essential attribute of a successful career

(04:12) – Phil says that being dependable and reliable are also important to how you are perceived

(04:17) – Barbara talks about the difficulties that you can experience in trying to be honest and that sometimes you will need courage to tell the truth


(04:45) – Worst Career Moment: Barbara talks about working as a contract project manager

(05:03) – It was a project that felt like everything that could possibly go wrong was going wrong

(05:10) – Barbara mentions the book, “The Death March,” by Yourden which confirmed to Barbara that she was on a disaster project

(05:28) – The packaged software being used had been customised by local developers but nothing had been documented

(05:38) – They were trying to do an upgrade and onto a new operating system

(05:50) – There was little stakeholder involvement and they didn’t understand what a Critical Path was

(06:01) – Barbara says that she walked away from the project which, looking back, disappoints her

(06:24) – Barbara learned to be a little more realistic about situations and to figure out how to deal with them when they’re difficult


(06:34) – Career Highlight / Greatest Success: Barbara talks about working for a large auto manufacturer

(06:50) – Barbara was assigned to a really fun project at a very young age

(07:01) – Barbara did initial design, requirement gathering, coding, testing and installation

(07:24) – It was a big, complex systems and required Barbara to learn a lot about engineering

(07:35) – It took thirty five hours to run the inventory in the system so ran over a weekend

(07:54) – Barbara started the process at the plant and sat in a motel for thirty hours, “keeping my fingers crossed”

(08:04) – The process successfully finished and an auditor confirmed that the results of Barbara’s system were correct

(08:13) – Barbara found it very exciting to have accomplished such a huge task


(08:27) – What Excites You About The Future of a Career in I.T.? Barbara says that there are so many things to be excited about and mentions artificial intelligence

(08:47) – The ability to diagnose illnesses

(09:05) – “It’s exciting to think that computers can make people’s lives better and save people’s lives”

(09:12) – Barbara is also excited about the driverless car and the potential to reduce deaths in auto accidents


(10:05) – The Reveal

(10:09) – What attracted you to an I.T. career in the first place? – “I loved the logic and predictability. That you could write software and it would do exactly what you told it to do”

(10:34) – What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? – “The worst career advice I ever received was that I protected my people too much”

(11:12) – If you were to begin your I.T. career again, right now, what would you do? –”I would love to do more with data … and cyber security”

(12:02) – What career objectives are you focusing on right now? – “Continuing to grow the awareness of business analysis”

(12:50) – What’s the number one non-technical skill that has helped you in your career so far? – “Analysis – being able to decompose a problem, a potential solution or an existing system”


(13:45) – A Parting Piece of Career Advice: Barbara says that you should find an area in I.T. that you love

(13:59) – Go after it and learn as much as you can because it’s a field that you need to do lifelong learning

(14:06) – Always be challenging yourself to get different experience and try different things


3 Key Points:     

  1. Have the integrity to be honest, say what you mean and keep to your commitments
  2. Be realistic about situations and figure out how to deal with them when they’re difficult
  3. Continually challenge yourself to get different experience and to try different things


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