How did you get your first break as a Scrum Master?
Share your hardships, tips and tricks to help others learn.
Here's my story.
Till 2008 I was a Java programmer. Workplace bullying led me to rethink my career, and a friend sent me a link to a CNBC news interview with Jack Dorsey - https://youtu.be/MBhKBWQmnFk (not on youtube back then).
Twitter was a startup, but it was going to be big. This was the seed that was sowed in my head. Later that year, I visited San Francisco for a friend's wedding. There I met this fellow who happened to be a tech recruiter for silicon valley startups. The talk about Twitter came up, and he then introduced me to another of his friend who recently got hired at twitter as a Product Manager.
His team was experimenting with iterations-based product development, i.e. Scrum, and they were looking for a Scrum Master. They were hard to find in 2009. As a programmer at IBM, I was part of a sort of Scrum team which released software every 4.5 weeks (funny, I know). So I raised my hand and said, "I know Scrum." They were desperate, so I got invited to showcase my "Scrum" skills. It was a relatively easy interview. It was more about programming than Scrum.
Few weeks later, I got my offer to be a Scrum Master at Twitter. I wasn't excited to get the offer. I mean, it was a Startup and Jack Dorsey wasn't even sure how to make money 😆. I accepted the offer to escape the bullying I was going through as a programmer. But I never regretted it. Being a Scrum Master taught me all the necessary skills to survive in the corporate world.
Back in 2010 we started with a small team and the devs wanted to give Scum a try. We did textbook scrum for several months while I took up the SM role, combined with PO and front-end dev.
We experimented with the scrum events and gradually found our flow, where we moved the PO responsibility to a business development colleague and I focussed more on the SM role. Looking back it was a great learning experience that got me hooked on scrum and agile. Have been working as an SM ever since
As many out there, this was totally unplanned. I had been a mechanical designer for almost 7 years and had been doing pretty much well in the field. Even though management was something that came naturally to me, the only reason I avoided was I knew that odds of finding a good management is far lesser than winning a lottery ticket.
But then I got hired by a company as design specialist. They had scrum at place and it was my first encounter with framework. When I researched about it, I felt like wow this are the values that can deliver projects for an organization but anyway I was part of the team at that point. As the project progressed, I realized this will not go on for few months because of the obvious antipatterns that one can notice even not being a scrum master. During my career, I neither failed as an indivdual contributor nor as a team member of the project and this one was just going to give me the pleasure of failing for the first time even after knowing what's going wrong and communicating it repeatedly in retros. I didn't know how to digest it after doing everything right. Without going much deeper into what Scrum team did, I was forced to reach out the top mgmt because of team's day dreaming. I reached out my manager's manager. Compared to others, I was the newest team member and like others, no matter how much he was convinced, it was hard for my senior manager to doubt their whole team. So, it was now just a ticking bomb. And it blasted eventually! Though it taught me two most valuable lessons: 1) Agility never goes from bottom to top. 2) For your own evolution, it is good to fail after doing everything right! I felt this could have been fate of so many upcoming, enthusiastic and creative designer/developer etc. that if project is not steered correctly, dents your confidence to greater extent.
The senior manager (when NOT needed)applauded me for my observation as the events unfolded precisely and he offered me to be a scrum master of their one of the most important and costliest project which was facing similar wrath from stakeholders. Eventually got relieved and that was my last time as a scrum master too! :))
In all it was great journey, I had never been so curious and active. I had attended so many webinars, read articles and I have read almost 8-9 books (& reread few) related to scrum and leadership. Right now finding my way back to be a Scrum Master :D
Here is my story with an exception !! Covid brings the change in my career for good. And Now i am a Scrum Master !!
I was in a travel and tourism industry throughout my life but as we all know that covid brings travel industry to its knee's, many like me had no choice but to start thinking about other career options.
2 Years back in 2021, One my friend got to know about Scrum and he started exploring about it. One fine day we were sitting and discussing about what to do next and the topic came out on scrum methodologies. After hear him out i became very curious to know more about scrum, so i started exploring about it on you tube.
The more i explore, my curiosity increases, so i finally made up my mind to go for it and switch my career into it.( Kind of agile mindset to accept change and move in the life like a sprint by making small goals for every 2 weeks on what to learn more.)
As a non -IT background person it was really tough to understand the terminologies as most of the time i only heard that the maximum opportunities and use of Scrum is mainly in the software development industry. So i started learning about the SLDC, Web, cloud , databases so that at least i can connect the dots.
After 3 months of Sprinting,i took CSM certification and i finally decided to start applying jobs to see if i can convince people with my story and start a new career. It took me 3 months more to land on the job with IBM after 7 interview of grilling and humiliation (Good that i didn't got a job with the ones who doesn't deserve my hard work for them but its was great to be a part of this process which made me more and more stronger and provide me more details on which i need work on before getting a job.) I never get demotivated after the interview,instead i write and work more hard to understand what interviews wants from this role and where are the gaps i need fill to get this job.
( Maybe it's the agility in mind, which keeps me going on even when the result was not there but my eyes and mind in on my goal. )
Now it's been 1.5 Yrs and i am happy to say that i am very much satisfied with me career now, even though travel and tourism is back but i have no intentions to go back into it.
Thanks a lot Vibhor learning a lot from your posts on linked. A new- bee like me needs more content and clarity while performing the role. It's always fun learning reading your post.
I would like to connect with you more via email (if It's ok with you, please share your email. ) to share my challenges in the job and weird expectation asked by the eemployers from the scrum master.
Burning Question inside me:
1) If i can be technically knowledgeable, will it give me more bandwidth to successfully play the role ?
I know scrum dosnt say but In corporate world expectation of the employers are different, they want Scrum master perform like a project coordinators but you cant to do much if you are not technically knowledgeable to understand the SDLC process and pieces.
Thanks all for reading my story and would love to hear the answers of my curiosities.
Hi Vibhor. It's a great question and thanks for raising it. Thank you to all who shared their journey so far. I'd be curious to know of any Scrum Masters who started their first role without having been a developer or who've been on Scrum teams in a different role prior. Or Scrum Masters without a technical background. This seems to be a rarity.
Anyone out there like that? :)
I have started my journey after graduate in automobile engineering, I commenced my career as a design and development engineer. After three years of technical experience, I aimed to transition towards management, with my ultimate goal being to start my own organization.
In pursuit of this aspiration, I chose to undertake a certification course in Agile during the year 2019. My reasoning behind this decision was rooted in the widespread recognition of Scrum for enhancing productivity and ensuring the delivery of high-quality products and that skills and knowledge will help me to grow by business in future.
Initially, the journey towards becoming a Scrum Master was arduous as I was new to the role and had to manage interactions with higher management and stakeholders.
However, experts like Vibhor Chandel and Sunand Sharma help me to enhance my knowledge by posting an articles over media as well relevant videos to develop techniques to handle critical situations and conflicts, which helped me perform my job more efficiently and effectively.
Presently, I am working in the automotive industry with an organization that is relatively new to the Scrum framework. My role is to lead the organization towards delivering products in a Scrum-oriented manner. While the organization is not yet matured with Agile practices...
I am confident that I will overcome any challenges that arise during this transition. Furthermore, I am fortunate to have mentors such as Vibhor Chandel, who I can seek guidance from on social platforms.
I started my education in fashion and later became a pattern maker. I have always been interested in doing thing efficiently, both personally, in school and at my job. In school and during my time developing apparel products, lean was the foundation upon whish we designed, buildt and produced everything. When I a few years later found my self as an Business Expert in a development team for a pattern making software, the scum master role sounded very interesting to me. Sounds far away from what I done before but really the mindset felt so similar. They needed someone to fill that role and after some thinking I said I do it... From the start I loved the role and after some time decided I wanted to be Scrum Master full time and change the direction of my career. Looking back I realize it was always the process of building things efficiently, getting a team to work together, finding the high costumer valued tasks and achiving that "flow" that interested me more then fashion it self.