This Blog is a 5-Part Series | Part -1
March 1, 2021 | BY Sarfraz Aaron, CSM, SSM, PMP
Some of the questions that I get asked about are, How did I become a Scrum Master? How did I gain my technical experience? What makes an effective Scrum Master?
First of all, to get to this far in my professional career it wasn't easy or even planned. So let me take you back in time and understand how did it all begin; who helped me and what did I do to get to this point in my career.
This blog is a 5-part series that I will go over my professional career life journey, highlighting my thought process, what options were available and what decisions I took (good & bad!) that got me to this point.
You have only failed if you have failed to try
I studied an Engineering Degree at Leeds University in England, and before we continue, I wanted pause here for a moment to remind all that I studied this degree, not because I knew what I was doing but because my friend was studying this degree - so I did too!
I didn't have passion in Engineering and like I said, I just followed my friend; I didn't have any clear direction or knew what I was doing. This happened around the early 1990s, because the IT industry or the computers were just coming in, but really nobody knew what the heck was a computer & what was the internet. At that time we had things like Commodore 64, Hotmail and Yahoo mail, but nothing big.
So I studied an Engineering Degree for the next four years with one year, as an internship, that would give experience which will then increase the chances to get a job in the Engineering field. So while studying this degree, I found it very complicated and difficult. My heart wasn't in it, but I just did it as you would since your family had high hopes on you to be successful!
After completing my three years of degree in Engineering, I had one year work placement as an intern with a large organization. I was assigned to an IT Manager, who was responsible in making sure that all the computers were up to date, helped any users who had any issues with their computers etc. My manager was the only person responsible to support all the users in all IT related matters. So I joined him and together we managed to support all the user base in that organization. While I was doing this job, I realized that that this was very exciting. I didn't know much about computers but by following my manager, I learnt a lot about the IT field, applications and computers in general. The idea of a career in IT started to become a reality in my mind since I really enjoyed my time doing this job. I wanted to pursue further in this field so as a result, after completing my degree, I got a job as an IT Support Analyst with a Health Authority in London, England. Here again I was doing similar tasks, which was to support the users in all IT related matters.
And this was just the beginning of my career in IT.
First 10 Years
So lets fast forward a little bit.
I joined different companies and continued to do IT related roles but I kept jumping from one organization to another. In a simple terms, whichever organization offered a better package, in terms of salary I joined them! In each organization I must have worked for around 15 to 18 months before joining another. So, in a nutshell, after graduating, for the first 10 years, I went from company to company working for any organizations that offered a better salary but not focusing on career.
The work I was doing was similar to technical support roles. However, my career was not following any particular path and therefore, was very vague and generic - as the saying goes: Jack of all trades but Master of none! Some of the roles that I took were, for example, as a database administrator, as a technical support person, IT support officer, or even as a network support person and so on. As a result, I did not have a clear idea or a vision as to what I wanted to do in my career and I felt lost and did not know who to turn to for help or guidance!
After moving around 7 different organizations in less than 10 years, I realized that I had a good experience in various areas in IT, for example, how computer networks were setup, how the databases were configured and understood many technical terms. So I was happy that I have managed to achieve this much experience. But at the same time I felt that I should have an IT related degree or a certification so that I can be considered as a strong candidate. As a result, I decided to continue my education in IT by enrolling into a part time 2 years Master's Degree in Information Systems Design. This was an excellent choice as I learnt a lot about IT, Systems, Databases, Networks, SQL, Security and much more!
To summarize for the first part of my journey, within the first 10 years after graduating, I had multiple jobs in various roles for different organizations. Above all this, I managed to successfully complete my Master's Degree. This gave me a really good foundation in IT, coupled with over 10 years of technical experience. After this moment I started to think, what else do I need to do? What are my next steps? What do I see myself doing for the next 3-5 years?
So I asked myself: What can I do? What can I specialize in? What am I good at? Again, I did not have any mentors to liaise with or have any guidance. One thing that came to my mind over and over again, was that I need to be more specific in my role, I need to be more focused in my career but I did not know what that was!
Going with my gut feelings and by observing what was going on around me, I decided that considering all the things that I've done, I quite liked working with people and management. One role that came to my mind was maybe a career in project management.
The idea of a career in project management still made sense to me and I was excited at the same time. However, I didn't know what entailed in project management or what I had to do to get into project management.
So now I'm at the second part of my journey. Join me in my next blog where I embark on my newly found passion in project management; what did I do and how did I land my first job as a Project Manager!
I look forward to seeing you on my part 2 of How Did I Get Here? My Journey to Becoming a Scrum Master.
If you do not like where you are, move. You are not a tree. ~ Jim Rohn