A Journey Of Possibilities – How I became a Scrum Master

Many people have asked me how I became a Scrum Master without any certifications so I decided to write about it. I hope this helps someone 🙂

When I moved to Toronto in May 2016 to study project management, I did not know anything about Agile or Scrum. Since I was also new to the country, I wanted to experience first-hand, how the Canadian job market looked like for project management professionals, so I began attending project management related events and meetups. One such meetup was AgileTO where I heard about Agile and Scrum for the first time. I began realizing that I liked it more than traditional project management (which I was studying in college) so I decided to start volunteering for that meetup and Gillian Lee (who was one of the organizers back then) gladly accommodated my request from the next meetup.

So it began…A Journey of Possibilities.

A couple of meetups later, I was eager to try the role of a Facilitator (one of the skills of a Scrum Master) for the breakout sessions, and I was given a chance to do it from the following meetup. It became evident to me by then that I was a part of a very supportive community that encouraged continuous learning. As time passed, I became friends with the other volunteers, people who are experienced Agilists and who love giving back to the local Agile Community even to this day.

Some may say what I did was networking, which is right. I also made many mistakes initially while trying to network which I am going to save for a later post 😉 A simple google search tells us that, “Networking is the act of interacting with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, especially to further one’s career.” While I agree with the definition, I think it furthers more than just our careers. It also helps improve our knowledge, social skills, and most importantly our people skills. As you read about me so far, while I was networking and volunteering my time, I was not just learning during these meetups but also from the personal experiences of all those people, my friends 🙂

Then came along Joanne Stone who is an Agile Coach by profession. In April 2017, during Toronto Agile Community‘s Open Space, she proposed a mentorship group for Scrum Masters and anyone could be a part of it, the newer you were to the profession, the better. I jumped at the idea, and soon enough in June 2017, I was inducted in the first of its kind mentorship group for Scrum Masters in Toronto. By the way, I was still studying then, so it meant the world to me (Thanks Joanne). We created our Learning Backlog, and over the course of six months, we learned about Agile Values and Principles, Scrum values along with its framework, had a mini coaching session by Shahin Sheidaei and, this is where I also ran my first Retrospective Session. In August 2017, one of my volunteer friends, Sunny Dhillon helped me get a co-op as a Scrum Master (even though I did not have the CSM certification) and the same company extended my contract after I got my work permit.

What am I trying to tell you?

People talk about getting lucky breaks in their careers. I am living proof that the ‘lucky breaks’ theory is simply wrong. We get to make our luck. It is not about whom we know, what’s even more important is who knows us. How do we get to a place where people start knowing us and also recommending/referring us to their peers or bosses? There is a quote I used by Steve Blank in my Valedictory Speech during my convocation ceremony in January 2018,

The world is run by those who Show Up, not those who wait to be asked

When I moved to Toronto in May 2016, I had 16 months before my co-op term. I had financial commitments (international students pay three times the tuition of a local student) so I could have easily made a couple of hundred bucks more or, just slept-in but instead, I decided to Show Up, which made all the difference. While reading about French Immersion, it occurred to me that I took a similar approach in my journey to become a Scrum Master. I immersed myself in the Agile community here in Toronto and that is why I call myself “A Student of Agile Immersion.”

In retrospect,

  • Show Up
  • Immerse yourself in the local Agile Community through volunteering
  • Network to build long-term relationships, not just for a job/career change.

To all my mentors and friends from the Toronto Agile Community, thank you for investing in my life!

PS – I am not against any certifications, I didn’t have to get one, yet 😉

PPS – I did get my CSM in May 2018 because I am job hunting and most organizations now require us to have a certification.


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