My thoughts about the career path of the Business Analyst may be considered a bit extreme by some, and on the other hand may be embraced immediately by others. I believe the career path for the Business Analyst is the Executive Suite. After a career in various levels of business analysis, playing various roles, applying the inherent skills of business analysis, the natural next step from the position of business analyst is at the strategic and leadership levels of the organization. Why?
The current crop of CEOs, as has been the case for decades, come from sales or marketing for the most part. The kind of outgoing charismatic person usually associated with the sales and marketing position is the kind of person that is noticed and elevated as CEOs and Presidents. The charisma that helps a person be a great salesperson is the same as that which is typically possessed by those considered as leaders. However, in today's world it is necessary to only know the organization's product and customers and market position and competition. Those evolving the strategy for the organization need to know technology (computer and otherwise), systems, business processes, and how all the various parts of the organization fit together. It will not be enough to be a figurehead, plot a direction to increase sales or add new products or buy companies and make speeches at college commencements.
And who in the organization has the experience with both the technical and business sides of the organization? Who is trained with the skills of facilitation, negotiation, mediation, investigation, elicitation, applying influence, and resolving conflict? Who spends their time defining business problems, applying critical thinking to situations, coming up with solutions to business problems, viewing the situation from a systems thinking perspective? Who is the organization's Chief Problem Solver?
It is of course the Business Analyst.