Han Cork
Jul 20, 2016
4 mins reading time

Becoming a Scrum Master at Holiday Extras

Coming from a non-profit sector background, my transition to working in a completely trading-focused organisation was always going to be challenging. Especially with a young baby at home; new job + new sector + sleep deprivation = tough start!

Getting started

My last role before having said sleep thief was at Cancer Research UK. I was unofficially a Scrum Master there. And a Product Owner. And a developer. And a copywriter… It wasn’t working - no one person can do all those roles as there are just too many conflicts. I was already pushing for me to just take on one of these roles before I went on my nine month “holiday” but it wasn’t until I had left and thought about it away from the madness of my daily tasks that I realised, much to my own surprise, that it was the Scrum Master responsibilities I actually missed the most.

After being off work for five months, I was bored. Being a mum is great, but after the fifteenth round of “Wheels on the Bus” where I’d started being very inventive with my verses, I knew I needed to get back to work. I wanted a new challenge but living in Kent meant that the travel time and cost of getting to London on top of childcare wasn’t an option. Luckily, my husband works for an amazing company called Holiday Extras and kept ranting and raving about how great they are to work for, so I went along to a Meet Up for Kent’s agile enthusiasts at their offices and met some of the team. I was blown away by the building, the facilities, and most importantly, the people and the agile mindset. When a job as a Scrum Master came up the following month, I jumped at the chance to join them.

Getting in

What followed was a rigorous interview process starting with a telephone interview, the most bizarre assessment I’ve ever done, a formal interview and then finally a meet the teams where you have a chat with people you would work with, giving both parties a chance to see if you can all work together. Luckily for me, we all liked each other so I was offered the job.

My twelve week on-boarding was a total whirlwind. I don’t remember much of that time, but I met people from all over the business, shadowed my new Scrum Master colleagues and got given my own team, or Pod as they’re called here, as well as a very full brain at the end of every day. My manager is also a Scrum Master which is fantastic as she understands the struggles I have and can give me great support, advice and tips on things I haven’t thought to try.

I had to quickly get to know my new Product Owner and the team of developers and testers I’d be working closely with. That was daunting as the role means you need to be a great people person whilst also not shying away from helping them develop, grow and learn. I had to be prepared to coach and feedback to anyone and everyone. Being liked, respected and having to encourage change is a tough balance to get right.

Getting on

I passed my onboarding period, went and got fully accredited as a Certified Scrum Master (I have a certificate and everything) and have now been with Holiday Extras for around nine months. I think I can safely say I feel part of the team and like I’m making a real difference being here. There have been challenges along the way of course with changes to team structure and how we work with stakeholders as well as each other, but challenges make work interesting and stop my brain descending into baby madness again.

Sleep deprivation aside, I’ve really enjoyed getting to grips with my role as Scrum Master and my place at Holiday Extras - which really is worthy of all the raving my husband did in the early days - and look forward to improving and learning as I progress here. And when I really think about it, I’m not sure the focuses of the two organisations are so different after all; both want to ensure we spend wisely and have a focus on improving turnover to benefit stakeholders and patrons. I work just as hard as I did for the charities and I still feel like I’m helping people - exactly why I wanted to be a Scrum Master in the first place.

Tags scrum, master, agile