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Life as a Scrum Master

Have you ever wondered what life as a Scrum Master is really like? What does it take to become a CSM and to stay top of the game?

As part of our “Life as a” series, we caught up with Laura Vega, Certified Scrum Master at Webgains to give you a little more insight – if you are considering a career within Agile or are planning on adding an expert to your team – you can find some first-hand perception right here.

ADLIB: In approx. 30 words, what does your role as a Scrum Master involve?

Laura: The best way to describe it is to ‘make my team’s life easier’. That involves helping my team explore better ways of working, better ways of communicating, better ways of delivering and better ways to self-organise. These all sound like fancy ‘buzz-words’, but that really is my job in this team: facilitating that exploration so the team can continuously improve.

ADLIB: What’s a typical day like for you? (…if there is such thing)

Laura: I start the day with a short mediation and workout. This routine allows me to start with a sense of achievement, which then helps me to stay focused during the day.

My days at work never look the same as I have different projects on the go. My main role in the company is Scrum Master but I also work as a Project Manager.

At 9.30am my working day starts – and going through a global pandemic, I don’t think there is such a thing as a ‘typical day’ anymore.

Most of my days go into, first of all, checking if the team’s wellbeing is good. That means catching up with team members, making sure they all have everything they need and checking whether there’s anything that we, as a company, can do to help. This is particularly tough as we are a distributed team, with members in South America, Sri Lanka and across the UK.

Second of all, I make sure that, as a team, we are staying on track with the sprint goals. That means removing blockers, making sure the backlog is in good shape, managing the release process, planning for sprint ceremonies, and so on.

And finally, it has become a priority for us to explore how we can best adapt to this new way of working. We are currently exploring how to keep engagement up and to improve our communication when everyone is sat at home, probably still wearing their PJs, writing code.
These are challenging times for everyone, and it’s our responsibility to look after the team.
After work, I like to finish my day by making a nice meal for myself, drawing, reading and face timing friends and family.

ADLIB: What is it about the role that inspires you to get out of bed in the morning?

Laura: I find satisfaction in helping others do their best. Knowing that I play part in a team that’s capable of delivering very valuable work, sprint after sprint, inspires me to keep working hard.

ADLIB: What do you see as the top 3 skills it takes to become a Scrum Master?

Laura: In a nutshell, being very organised, a good servant/facilitator and being very resourceful.

Helping and coordinating various team members across different projects takes a lot of organisational skills. Being a good facilitator is key to lead solution-focused conversations in which the team itself identifies the problems, and at the same time, it’s them who find solutions to those problems – so acting as a mediator.

I have found that being resourceful is key – being able to identify who’s the best person to ask for X, where’s the best place to look for answers, coming up with new retrospective ideas, etc are just examples of how being resourceful will make a difference to the team.

ADLIB: And finally, if you can give one piece of advice to those just starting, you’d say…

Laura: I started in this role with no technical background at all. That seems to be the question I get asked the most: how can you do that job if you can’t code?

My advice for those just starting is to be brave and ask all the questions. I have found that the people I work with, with very heavy technical backgrounds, are excited to help others understand what it is that they do. They are happy to get asked questions, and more than happy to answer them. So, ask questions – it doesn’t matter how silly these might sound to you!

Thanks so much for sharing!