A day in the life of a scrum master: Linda Podder

Welcome back to our day in the life blog series, where we interview employees across different departments at Hyland. So far, we’ve learned about the life of a software developer, network and security administrator and an R&D manager.

This time around, we sat down with Linda Podder to learn more about what it’s like to be a scrum master at Hyland.

What do you do and how did you get here?

Amy: What is your official job title and what does it mean?

Linda: My title is scrum master III, which means I am part of the team-level leadership for our Agile R&D teams. It’s a lot of collaboration and a lot of coaching, both with the teams that I work with and with the other team-level leaders.

Amy: What made you decide to pursue this line of work?

Linda: Hyland originally hired me in the Quality Assurance department and I worked out of the Tampa office. I started out testing, and I loved it. But kept working with the project managers on our Global Services team, and thought about how we could make this work well with R&D.

When I moved to Westlake, Ohio, I started working on an Agile team. Jeremy Willets, an Agile coach in the same group that I’m in, was the scrum master at the time. He helped me fill in the pieces of how project management can work on an Agile team.

I loved it, because it wasn’t about dictating what needed to be done and allocating proper resources. It was about giving power to a team of people who know what they’re doing and helping them along the way. So as soon as I started working on an Agile team I was like, “I want to do that.”

Amy: What kind of education and experiences did you need prior to starting your current job?

Linda: I’ve had a weird career path. I’m kind of a jack-of-all-trades, (scrum) master of none. When I got into quality assurance, I hadn’t done software testing before. However, at my previous job, I worked with many software programs – as many as 25 at once!

So, while I didn’t have software engineering in my background, I had technical acumen. It’s about being able to work with people – being able to empower other people, rather than focusing on what you’ll get out of it. And that goes to being a Servant Leader, which is what is very important in an Agile leadership environment.

Day-to-day

Amy: What are some projects you have been working on?

Linda: Right now, I’m working with our data capture teams. They are responsible for all of the different solutions we offer in terms of capture software – like ingesting content to provide simpler, faster access to information.

What’s really exciting is that a year-and-a-half after acquiring Perceptive – and previously acquiring AnyDoc – we’ve taken all this technology that works in different ways and combined it to make one offering. And we’re modernizing everything, which Perceptive and AnyDoc were doing as well, so it all fits well into our content services platform modernization strategy.

Amy: What are some common misconceptions about your job?

Linda: Many people see this role as a project manager. A project manager is a one-stop shop; they’re responsible for everything, they’ve got to keep everyone on track. Whereas as scrum master is there to introduce the framework and the boundaries for the team to work in, and then allow them to self-organize and autonomously make decisions.

We also do some meeting facilitation. Within a scrum process there are daily meetings, so we help those teams inspect and adapt regularly.

Amy: What about your job gets you excited to come to work every day?

Linda: Creativity and experimentation. For an Agile team, it’s really important to create a safe space. Because of the autonomy I just mentioned, we want them to know that it’s okay to make those decisions. It’s also fun to find out what they want to experiment with and help them do that, and then experiment with them. If you want to figure out what to do better next time around, and people ask you the same questions, it can get boring. So I love bringing in fun and interesting ways to facilitate conversations.

The other part that gets me going is the idea that you don’t have to do anything but ask the right questions to get people to figure out how to excel. You don’t have to tell them what to do, you can ask, “Hey, what do you think would be best for this?”

Once they make that realization, they just fly and it’s so awesome.

Amy: What is the biggest challenge of your job?

Linda: Right now, it’s the fact that we’re going through transformation at the company level and the organizational level. Making sure that not just our R&D teams understand Agile as a mindset – and all of the different frameworks that are available to them – but that the rest of our organization is prepared to interact with them in that way.

Tech career advice

Amy: Any advice for someone applying for a job in your department?

Linda: If there is an opportunity in any way to shadow a scrum master or an Agile coach, do it. Because this is the kind of job where you learn from doing. You can get the basic information from scrum.org or Scrum Alliance and understand all of the different frameworks to be an Agile team, but you need to actually do it to understand it.

Amy: What is one question you always ask a potential hire during an interview?

Linda: How would you diffuse a situation if you had a group of people who can’t agree? Because we have to facilitate these discussions, and we need to look back and figure out what went well and what didn’t to continuously improve.

Amy: What are the most important traits of successful leaders?

Linda: Being able to identify people’s passions, and letting them go for it. Kind of like what my managers have done for me.

Living the HylandLife

Amy: What does the #HylandLife mean to you?

Hyland life means family. To me, family is chosen instead of a blood relative. All of my family is in California, because that’s where I’m originally from. My boyfriend works here, which is great, but the people I’ve made friends with are so genuine and amazing that they’ve become a part of my extended family.

Amy: If you had one word to describe your time at Hyland, what would it be?

Linda: Opportunity. I’ve had such amazing managers and leadership, they recognized that I had this passion and allowed me to pursue it.

Rather than saying, “No, you’re a test technician you have to test software,” they said, “okay, let’s figure out a way for you to do the job we hired you for, as well as expand and grow according to your passion.”

Amy: If you could have lunch with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?

Linda: I think it might be John Lennon. My whole life revolves around music, and I love the Beatles. I love how they pioneered and took all these crazy chances and just ran with whatever happened afterwards.

If I was able to have lunch with him today, I would see if he could have imagined how much they’ve influenced the rest of rock and roll. I’d love to hear about his experiences with music, travel and everything. And what his thoughts are on how they’ve paved the way for so many people.

Think you have what it takes to be a scrum master? Check out our current openings!

Amy Awadalla

Amy Awadalla

Amy Awadalla is living and loving the #HylandLife as a social media intern. She is a graduate of John Carroll University with a degree in marketing. When Amy isn’t scrolling through her social feeds, she is trying new restaurants, traveling the world or spending time with her family in Canfield, Ohio.

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