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Becoming a Scrum Master

Collaboration
Agile / Scrum

27 May, 2021

Sinduja Ramanujam
Sinduja Ramanujam

Sr Product Manager at Microsoft

Sinduja Ramanujam, Senior Product Manager at Microsoft, speaks to the value of transitioning into a Scrum-based mindset as a leader.

Problem

When I started at Intel, I was totally new to the team, many of whom had been with the company for twenty or more years, compared to my three months’ worth of interning with both Intel and Qualcomm. The problem that I really want to overcome was a lack of experience driving my own decisions. I was unfamiliar with how problems were solved within the organization and the ways that my senior teammates were used to doing things.

At the time, the Scrum movement was just beginning to gain momentum in the industry. The approach was novel, something that I had no experience with before. I was used to taking orders and meeting demands. While this way of working was adequate in many scenarios, I found myself compelled to ask more of the status quo.

Actions taken

While becoming certified as a Scrum master officially, I was doing two things simultaneously: trying to understand why things were the way that they were, while also trying to break through that barrier, adapting the established mindset to become more agile, which was still a relatively new concept at the time. They didn’t really know how to integrate the mindset into the work we were doing together, so I took it upon myself to enroll in a training program, eventually becoming the Scrum master.

I was able to introduce this way of working to the team. This afforded me some insight into why some things were being prioritized over others. I ended up being the Scrum master until the day that I left the company, a year and a half or so.

Through this accomplishment, I learned that it always pays to be curious. You really do need to have an interest in what’s out there for the sake of your own personal growth. Staying abreast of all of the tools and technologies constantly evolving allows you to continually be updating your own platform and to enhance your customer experience.

Lessons learned

  • Compliments are cheap. You need to bring your army along with you and be able to share in the compliments that your work as a team receives. Very recently, I learned from a colleague that the person who is the first to give out credit is the leader. I had never thought about it in that way. You are able to share the happiness of accomplishment with everybody who helped you to achieve your goals.
  • Never shy away from asking questions, from trying to figure out why things are the way that they are. Never be afraid of questioning the status quo, especially as a woman breaking the barriers that we face in this industry. This lesson can also be applied to the way that you improve the customer journey.
  • When working with agility, the team is able to fail fast while still being able to get back on its feet quickly enough to deliver. While not always possible, especially when working through the silicone testing phase, there is always room to introduce these principles of agility in order to address the technical challenges ahead.

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