How to Go From Business Analyst to CEO: Skills, Roles, and Responsibilities

A promotion from business analyst to CEO is a career path to the top echelons of an organization. In between those two jobs are interim management levels and the need for a plan of personal and professional improvement. How to become a CEO is a matter of experience, ongoing training, and acquiring knowledge of what makes the company tick.

Are business analyst CEO candidates?

Business analysts help top management in a number of supporting ways. As more companies buy into the data-driven model, top leaders are relying on business analysts. Business analysts have the training and knowhow to help the organization to be more data-driven in their business decisions, and less dependent less on intuition and gut feelings.

So, the business analyst career path to the C-Suite has been opened to business analysts because of their ability to use big data and business intelligence. That data equips them to become valued additions to the executive team in the roles of chief analytics officers or CEOs.

Business Analyst to CEO Job Description

The job description of a business analyst is as good as any:                  

“A Business Analyst… is responsible for assessing companies and coming up with solutions…. Their duties include analyzing financial reports, market research and operating procedures, strategizing ideas … and meeting with (interested parties) to provide suggestions based on their analysis.”

In carrying out those responsibilities, a business analyst must exercise cross-organizational knowledge and skills similar to a CEO. Specifically, the business analyst:

  • analyzes data for potential business expansion
  • identifies business opportunities based on the data
  • influences top management, shareholders, etc., to support new business projects
  • works with departmental teams for better business outcomes
  • writes clear and well-structured business documents

The foregoing responsibilities are in addition to the business analyst data collection and analysis in support of top management.

How to become a CEO

Stephanie Famuyide, writing for Business Analyst Learnings, says that when going from business analyst to CEO, “you need to put yourself in the best position possible to rise to the very top.” Here are a few of the essential skills needed to become a strong CEO:

A relentless work ethic

As the saying goes, the only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary. Says the author: “You should never feel like someone is working harder than you.” So, CEO aspirants “need to learn how to work long hours without sacrificing your work.”

The way to get noticed is to remember that “when you are at work, you need to work hard,” so that other people “feel like you are willing to do anything to get to the very top.” That means willingly putting in the extra hours required to meet deadlines, but also knowing when to take time off to recharge the creativity.

Ability to communicate clearly

A CEO must develop strong communication skills. As a CEO, you will have employees working under you, and they will rely on understanding clearly what you want them to do. That means clearly communicating your goals to your managers, customers, and clients. They must clearly understand the benefits of your products and services. 

Collaborating at all levels of the organization

At the root of collaboration skills is, as previously mentioned, the ability to communicate. A CEO is either at the top or the center of an organization and must develop a reputation for sharpness, decisiveness, and business acumen.

A CEO who wants to promote job satisfaction and employee engagement must promote and encourage frequent communication between senior managers and employees. Collaboration with employees gives them a sense of ownership as well as an insight into the company’s operations and goals.

A dedication to developing management and leadership skills

No CEO has every skill required to excel. But every CEO should consider personal and professional improvement a lifetime process. That process includes a dedication to continuing education, both academic and practical.

Best advice for navigating the path from business analyst to CEO

Marc Berman, writing for Programming, provides detailed advice in his online article, “5 Trusted Tips to Move Your Business Analyst Career to a C-Suite Role.”

Berman writes, “Business Analysts are the bridge between the different departments of a company. … In today’s multifaceted world, business analysts bring business needs together with IT resources. BAs are in essence the conduit between business problems and solutions. They, therefore, understand the various areas of the business very well.”

So, business analysts seeking career advancement “need to be multidimensional professionals with broad business, IT, and leadership skills.” In short, they must go beyond their comfort zones, “hone their existing skill sets, and acquire new knowledge…required for the coveted role.”

The business analyst to CEO “roadmap.”

Berman presents his advice to business analysts as guideposts along a “roadmap to a C-Suite Role.” Those posts are:

1. Broaden cross-functional experience

2. Develop technological knowledge and management methodologies

3. Nurture and strengthen behavioral skills

4. Seek additional certification and training

5. Hone and develop leadership skills

Planting the five guideposts

#1—To broaden cross-functional experience, business analysts “need to deepen their functional expertise and broaden their knowledge. The good news is that the business analyst “already possesses cross-functional knowledge.”

#2—To move forward on their career path, business analysts require “a higher degree of technological fluency.” In today’s data-intense business environment, executives “who neglect their technical skills might be passed over.”

Recommended business analysis tools include MS Visio, Lucid Chart, and BizAgi Business process modeler. To improve processes and receive insights on broad-scale business innovations, a BA “should seek to understand and utilize methodologies like Lean Six Sigma, CMMI, ITIL, etc.”

#3—Berman advises business analysts to nurture and strengthen those behavioral skills that are the gold standard of successful CEOs. Those skills include:

  • Analytical thinking
  • Communication
  • Conflict resolution
  • Creative & Innovative Thinking
  • Decision Making
  • Facilitation
  • Listening
  • Negotiation
  • Presentation
  • Problem-solving
  • Questioning
  • Team building

Building harmonious working and personal relationships with people across departments are important rungs up the ladder to the C-Suite.

#4—Learning and self-improvement should be lifelong quests, along with a thirst for knowledge. Earning specialized professional certifications is the foundation of a growing and successful career. Certifications increase the value of the individual to the organization and encourage the business analyst to learn skills beyond their regular tasks.

Sarah K. White, writing for, doubles down on the value of business analysts:

“Business analysts help organizations make the most of the data they collect by finding trends, patterns, and errors that might otherwise go unnoticed. Successful business analysts have…the acumen to understand the business side of the organization, and the ability to communicate that information to people outside of IT (emphasis added).”

White suggests 10 certifications that can help a business analyst in career advancement:

  • Certified Analytics Professional (CAP)
  • IIBA Entry Certificate in Business Analysis (ECBA)
  • IIBA Certification of Competency in Business Analysis (CCBA)
  • IIBA Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP)
  • IIBA Agile Analysis Certification (AAC)
  • IIBA Certification in Business Data Analytics (CBDA)
  • IQBBA Certified Foundation Level Business Analyst (CFLBA)
  • IREB Certified Professional for Requirements Engineering (CPRE)
  • PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PBA)
  • SimpliLearn Business Analyst Masters Program

#5—The best and most successful CEOs are known for their well-developed leadership skills. Activities and attributes contributing to that success include:

  • Taking the initiative, while others are reluctant to act
  • Being decisive in the face of indecisiveness—an abhorrence of “analysis paralysis”
  • Guiding others in their tasks—a natural tendency to take action when things are getting off track
  • Setting clear directions and goals—includes positive and definite expectations
  • Influencing others by setting the example
  • Listening actively with appropriate physical cues and questions
  • Having an open and honest empathy for the feelings of others

So, a business analyst who wants that coveted corner office in the top tier of the organization should prepare a roadmap and a career plan. The plan’s goal must be to, first, master business analysis skills and business acumen to reach the top.

The old cliché of having to “think out of the box,” applies—except the business analyst who wants to advance to CEO must “jump out of the box” and learn, work, and network with others inside and outside the organization to advance up the ranks and become a prized executive.

Let’s Recap

The pathway for a business analyst to the C-Suite is paved with experience, professional business qualifications, and a comprehensive knowledge of how the business runs.

Business analysts are natural candidates for the CEO role, especially in today’s data-driven business environment. Their primary duties of analysis, assessment, and market research, as well as their advisory role, prepare them well for the CEO role.

To become a CEO, a business analyst must cultivate a relentless work ethic, develop communication skills, and strive to complete the leadership skills that characterize the best CEOs.

The five pathways for a business analyst to reach the CEO level are:

1. Broaden cross-functional experience.

2. Develop technological knowledge and management methodologies

3. Nurture and strengthen behavioral skills

4. Seek additional certification and training

5. Hone and develop leadership skills

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About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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