You don’t have to scroll back far to see how in 2021 I was deep into learning and professional development, specifically in Agile, project management, and Scrum.
I had started my last role in February 2020 (a boomerang employee!), brought on to launch a series of pilot programs, and on a small team quickly had to convert the org’s meticulous plans to fit within a rapidly changing pandemic environment. From March 2020 through January 2020, we shifted, rebuilt, experimented, assessed. In short, apply an agile mindset or fail.
This post is about the after. After I had time to reflect on those wild projects built mid-flight. I looked back and thought about what additional toolsets would I have wanted and what gaps could I fill in to be even more effective to my teams in the future. That led me here in 2021. I applied that to my then- Sr. Program Manager job, through an internal systems role and then an innovation-focused role.
An Interesting Job Offer in 2022
In April 2022 a recruiter reached out to me about a Program Manager opportunity at a large company, a parental leave coverage. I could work with the PM in the role before their leave and then take on the position for several months. Having never worked a large corporate job I was intrigued. I’d get to:
- Immediately utilize and grow my Program Manager skillset in a new context.
- Gain valuable experience I could not get in my current role at a smaller company.
- If it turned out Corporate was not for me, it was only 6 months anyway.
There would be no hard feelings or need to plan an exit. It was certainly a risk stepping outside my full-time job into a temporary one, but a calculated one. So I said yes! I started the first week of May.
Six Months Later…
I have learned a tremendous amount in the last 6 months at this company and have been surprised by many aspects of the job. I’m glad I took a chance to work in a new domain and at a massive company. I got access to technical challenges that were vastly different from working at a small org, but still allowed me to flex my PM skills. The highlights:
Everyone I had interviewed with was so down-to-earth and kind, and that’s ultimately what led me to take the job. People were invested in each other working well together, growing, and there was a focus on the whole person. Sure, people can put on an act in an interview process, but it turned out to be true! From the people in the PMO I worked under to the directors, VPs, technical teams I supported in Program Management, talent and kindness was in abundance.
Program Increment (PI) Planning was new to me, but I had the opportunity to be formally trained in the process and support teams through two cycles. PI Planning is an agile way of longer-range planning. It is similar to scrum, but in increments of ~12 weeks rather than the 1 or 2 wks for sprints in Scrum. The chunks of work are significantly larger too.
I’ve been itching to use Jira for several years now and am now up to speed! I used Jira to manage Intake and PI Planning for my program. Before I started, a centralized intake was not yet being used by the squads I managed, so I got to be a part of launching it on Jira, managing the process and tickets, documenting the process, training business stakeholders to use the portal and supply necessary details, and identifying ways to improve the process once it was in use.
The biggest and most welcome surprise was the state of work when I joined. I thought I’d be trained in learning another PM’s role and then maintain it for a couple months. Wrong! The squads under the program I managed were in the middle of a series of significant work management shifts when I joined. Additionally, the team was growing rapidly with many new hires as well as developing a whole new squad: all learning their new roles & responsibilities and how to best work together. I supported in continuing, managing the PM side of that shift as well as iterating on the changes as they launched.
Wrapping up the contract
With 2 weeks* to go, I am admittedly wistful to be leaving this org and these teams. I feel like things just got started and there’s still so much to do! The relieving part of transitioning out of a parental leave coverage role is knowing all of the projects in progress have been returned to an amazingly talented PM. Everything’s in safe hands.
That said, I am excited about continuing my journey and the challenges ahead in the next place I go (where ever that is!).
10/28/22 Edit: Details forthcoming, I got news I can stay on for another 2 months! 🎉
2023 journey still TBD.