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Professional Scrum Trainer Spotlight - Andreanna Marshall

June 28, 2023

In this episode of the Community podcast, we get to know Professional Scrum Trainer Andreanna Marshall! She shares her background of how she got started as an executive assistant learning and using Scrum to becoming a Scrum Master and now a Professional Scrum Trainer!



Lindsay Velecina: 0:03
Welcome to the community podcast, a podcast from the home of Scrum.In this podcast we feature professional scrum trainers and other scrum practitioners sharing their stories and experiences to help learn from the experience of others. We hope you enjoy this episode.

Dave West: 0:20
Hello, and welcome to the community podcast.I'm your host Dave West CEO here at in Boston,Massachusetts. today's podcast is that one of my favorites really this idea this, this focus on our professional scrum trainers and their journey. So actually, I've discovered a lot of very interesting things around members of our community as we've done these podcasts today. I'm very fortunate.Andreanna Marshall, PST based in California is joining us on today's podcast. Welcome to the podcast Andreanna

Andreanna Marshall: 1:00
Thank you happy to be here.

Dave West: 1:02
And you're based in California but Californias huge.Where in California. Are you talking to us from?

Andreanna Marshall: 1:09
Yeah, I'm in the Los Angeles area. If anyone listening has seen Hollywood blink on Netflix, I live in like the boring part that they talk bad about that they're like the real sleepy areas. So I live in the valley of La so it's really calm really chill area but also not like about 20 minutes away from like downtown and Hollywood. So it's not far from all the action but that's where I grew up and I back here,right?

Dave West: 1:35
I mean that as obviously an Englishman that's incredibly interesting and exciting and sounds very glamorous. But tell our listeners love to know a little bit. I tell a fun fact about you having grown up in LA there must be something super interesting.

Andreanna Marshall: 1:53
Yeah, I've been I went to private school most of my life. So I was fortunate enough to go to school with some celebrity kids Niecy Nash. I went to school with her son, that's one of them. I actually one of the schools, our rival school. The everyone knows the Fonzie. Right. So Fonzie,actually his son went to a rival school. So we got to meet him when we were like in junior high because his son was playing against our school. So I always thought that was really fun. And I got to meet the Fonz. And so that's what I would say that's a fun fact. Alright,

Dave West: 2:27
I'm a big fan of Henry Winkler. And obviously happy days was a part of my, my youth as it was, so many people use. So alright, talking of Happy Days, let's that's a very bad segment into it. Can you give a little, little bit of our audience a little bit of context to your background, and how you got to be, you know, this sort of professional scrum trainer?Let's start at the very beginning, because it's a very good place to begin not to quote a song. On your on what, where did you where did it all begin for you? Yeah, so

Andreanna Marshall: 3:05
I'll kind of go back a little bit to like the college days. So I was I got my undergraduate in bout 20 2011.And so during that time, I was looking for a job couldn't find one, my parents were like, just we're still sort of in the recession. Jobs hadn't got come back yet at this point. So my parents were like, just go get your MBA. So I went got my MBA.I come out of that in 2013, I finally get a job. But it is not really kind of what I thought it was an executive assistant job.But I was really fortunate that she wasn't really looking for someone to get coffee. She was looking for someone to manage projects, and it was for the CTO. And she was hiring a new director. And this guy was like,I want to do this thing called Scrum. And absolutely nobody had any idea what this was, I was still an executive assistant,but they needed someone to actually like fill it fill in some roles. And so they were like, just go down there and manage the projects. And they had said that, but he was like,No, I want someone with more experience. And one of the other people was like, we can't get you someone right now. Just pack your stuff and go downstairs, my pack that literally that day I packed my stuff and went downstairs. And so initially, I was just kind of helping him out with the projects and we hadn't fully gone to scrum at that point. But a few weeks later,he's like I found a trainer.They're going to come to the office they're going to train every single person in like our it was a little bit of a small technical org but he's like they're going to he's going to train every single person in our org so he comes in he trains us all which by the way, everything was a total mess before that. I like to say we're using waterfall but it was kind of more like a disaster. Like I can't even you know it's disrespectful even call it waterfall but we were doing it was So total mess, stakeholders were not happy, they felt like you know, we were a black box,they couldn't understand what we were doing. And truthfully, we didn't understand all the time what we were doing. So it wasn't anything, you know, wrong and how they felt like it was the truth. So this guy comes in,he's with us for a day, and he's hanging out with us. And he's talking about Scrum. And we're obviously learning all the different things. But that's like my intro to Scrum. That was literally my very first training and understanding of Scrum.

Dave West: 5:29
And when you that first day when that trainer came in and introduced the, the ideas, what was your instant reaction? I mean, you weren't steeped in obviously doing an MBA, obviously, you'd been introduced to some ideas about project management, you know,you, but But you weren't steeped in waterfall. We weren't steeped in the PMI or any of that kind of stuff. What was your first reaction to it?

Andreanna Marshall: 5:58
Well, first,I was like, What are these terms even mean? They were also new.So that was like the first thing and, you know, one of the things that was challenging is like Fibonacci. I'm like, What is this numbering system. But ultimately, I really loved the team aspect. Because it really felt like we were just a bunch of individuals working. And that, especially I have a background in sports, I played college basketball. And I grew up in sports, my whole life, any any activity my mother could put me in I was in. So I'm really used to working on a team. So that concept just made a lot of sense in the workplace to me,that we were completely missing,although we thought we had it.And that kind of that training really highlighted that aspect of like how we work together as a team in this professional setting.

Dave West: 6:46
Yeah, so that sort of like false idea, just because they say you're a team, unless you have shared goals, unless you come together frequently to observe and to support each other less you plan together. It isn't really a team. And and obviously, that introducing that so So you were introduced to Scrum. You know, this, this passion began in you around agility? Where did it go next?

Andreanna Marshall: 7:15
Well,eventually, he did end up hiring someone with more experience.And so it was terrible. This guy had more and more experience.They got him trained as a scrum master. So he got his certification, and so forth. And then, but then they decided, Oh,we want you to do two roles, we want you to be the scrum master and the product owner. And you know, sometimes that really works out. But in this case, it didn't, which also worked out for me because I was like, Hi.So he got this certification,I'd like to get this certification. So I went to the two day training, I continued to basically learn and grow. And then I was like, Okay, I'm working with one team as a scrum master, I'd really like to work with this other team as a scrum master. So I was able to basically grow my skills, my career, just by being patient,paying attention, learning,applying those things, even those really random things that I wanted to try, the team was like, okay, so I'd be like, Oh,I read this article about how this one team kind of changed their scrum board a little bit.So instead of having like to do in progress done, they flipped it the opposite way. So it's done in progress to do. And so it's like these random things,the team was like, okay, sure,we'll do that. But they were like, really receptive. And it really gave me the opportunity to experience different things and also show growth with within the teams that I was working with. So basically, that's where it when I started learning more different blogs and articles about other people's experiences. And that and I stayed with that company for about three years.

Dave West: 8:55
And when I assumed that they were, they were getting some success out of using Scrum and working in this way. And obviously, it helps that there's a very motivated individual, such as yourself,helping them to become more slick, more successful. So it was going well.

Andreanna Marshall: 9:12
Yeah, it was fantastic. Before we would have I'll give one examples. One of the developers was like, this thing would have taken us a year and it took us one month to get done. And that just had me cracking up because it was like he's so right because we'd have one individual working on something then they would get to interrupted by five six stakeholders and really not finish that thing that was really small and probably could have been done really quickly but and they didn't have the support of the other the other team members so and then another example is once we started having our sprint review, the stakeholders absolutely love that. And it wasn't just like a feel good moment. We were actually catching issues. So they He came up with two features that they want it. And we're going through it, we're talking through it and one of the developers goes, we will completely corrupt the data. If we do both of these. And everyone just stops, everyone's like, Okay, explain a little more. So he starts talking to us about how these two features actually contradict each other,and will corrupt the data and they got paid off of their data,they needed that information. So we were able to find issues that otherwise someone would have just done and let it be corrected. And then when we find the issue, we'll just deal with it then. So we're catching things a lot earlier, by just collaborating with our stakeholders.

Dave West: 10:41
Yeah, that is a it's a big change when you're used to sort of more of a project he kind of model or in your case, I guess, it was more of a task kind of model, where people were off doing tasks, there was somebody trying to manage all those tasks, but Off they went,don't talk just do. And stakeholders, you know, came in and out. It makes it so much,much clearer. So okay, so now you've been infected with the scrum bug we like, we're sort of, uh, I don't know, I don't know that we like spreading this scrum bug. So,the you've got the scrum bug,you've got the Agile bug, what happens next?

Andreanna Marshall: 11:20
So I think on one end, I'll go back and say when that guy came in train this, I really liked it, I thought it was really cool that he was going to different organizations and helping them basically become a team and actually produce work on a regular basis. So that was something I always had, in the back of my mind. My mom's still laughs to this day, because I told her, I was like, that's something I might want to do in the future. I ended up doing it.So when I finally became a PSD,she was like, you said, you're gonna do this, like 19 years ago, I'm like, well, here I am,it took a little while, but I got there. So the next, you know, it was basically a lot of the same, which is continuing to learn to continuing to grow, I did change companies a couple more times after that, and I grew my skills in terms of like actually being able to train and teach. So I actually did like official training at Amazon,where we would do these mini agile training. So we would do intros for a few hours where people would really get to understand the basics. And then you can actually go and coach and work with these teams, and help them implement or start practicing Scrum. So that's pretty much where it continued to grow. It's like I looked at like, Okay, where are the gaps in my skills? What are the gaps that I see at an organization and I'm working in IS IT training is it coaching is it mentoring, which you always have to mentor people, if you're working on the team with them.And then one of the things that I loved was one of the organizations that I worked at,had a community of practice. So it's like a bunch of nerdy Scrum Masters or at an agile coaches coming together. And we would learn everything. So not just Scrum and Agile. But if it was a coding segment, someone would come and teach us, you know,coding or cloud, or something along those lines. So even though we were specifically talking a lot about Scrum,there's a lot of opportunity to grow your skills within that and still as a scrum master, or product owner, or developer continue to grow and hone in your skills so that you can continuously improve just like we want the whole team to as an individual, I have to take I took on that like, same thing for myself. It is interesting.

Dave West: 13:32
So I'm gonna lean into a little bit so that you said around, you really enjoy helping teams become teams and then become better as teams. Why didn't that is why, you know what, what kind of thing stands out when a team becomes a team?Or when they start getting better? And when they start improving? Can you talk a little bit about that?

Andreanna Marshall: 13:56
Well, I'll first start with work doesn't suck. Work.

Dave West: 14:02
It must suck. Don't tell my team that. So very important, it sucks. That's why it's called work and not fun.

Andreanna Marshall: 14:11
Once you start working in that team environment and start producing work and value to your users, it feels really good. People are happier. And a lot of the petty things that happen we tend to let go because it doesn't even matter. Like we're creating something of value and are really focused on that. So that's the first thing I found work to be more enjoyable when we all started working together and producing something and you don't get yelled at by stakeholders. So that's another aspect of that they're actually happy that's a such thing. They can be happy. And then I think maybe it's a some of the background I have in sports as well like that cohesiveness the bond you create with people It feels really good. So at least from from my standpoint, that's what makes me happy drives me and then seeing teams go from Like, you know, really terrible experience to a great experience and producing value. That always feels good. I'm going back to that. But that always feels really good. Just like I don't want to go to work and not produce anything or have a crappy experience and that no one else, no one that I know actually wants to do that. It just the environment feels like a black cloud is over you.

Dave West: 15:24
Yeah. No, it makes a lot of sense. And unfortunately,a lot of people work just suck about, you know, it's just like endless meetings, endless sort of like things where you don't feel like you're, you're delivering value and it's great to get your perspective.Everything you mentioned, which I just want to pull out a little bit that that that feeling of comradeship, Kirk, that feeling of that team, you know, the sports team, that the bonding the relationships that that grow from that. I think creating an environment where that flourishes, I think is super,super interesting. Okay, so gone to a few different organizations, doing some, you know, the Amazon training experience, you're working with all sorts of community, a community of practice helping them be successful, leaning into certain skills, etc. When did you decide you wanted to be a professional scrum trainer? It's not a it's not an easy journey.It can be quite arduous. We think rewarding and fabulous as well, but can be quite arduous.why did why did you decide to become a PST?

Andreanna Marshall: 16:43
Well, it is a hard journey. It looks a lot simpler on paper select when you go to You read it, I thought it was like Oh, okay.Yeah, this is this

Dave West: 16:53
is yes. Some interviews sounds easy peasy.

Andreanna Marshall: 16:56
Yeah. No,it's really not. But I think the seed was already planted, like I said, in 2014. So So I already had that in the back of mine mine. And then once I really started getting the experience,I was like, wow, I really liked this. And how can I really scale this? How can I get better? And yeah, I definitely got better through this process. That is for sure. But yeah, so that bug was kind of already there. And then the pandemic really hit because I had more time I wasn't traveling anymore. I'm now working from home. So I had a bit more time to actually figure out like, is this the direction?I think we're all probably doing some self reflection in 2020.But I really got to think about like, where do I want to go in the future? What really makes me happy? What am I really excited about? And thinking about when I go to work every day? And this is one of the aspects? How do I What are the next steps? So I obviously did my research. I ended up meeting meeting Scott Adams, I went to one of his training. So I was like, Hi, I'd like to do this thing. And he's like, let's do it. And I basically somehow also, like, it was like, okay, yeah, let's do it. I want to do it. But like,yeah, so he kind of he kind of by de facto became my mentor. I don't know if he really wanted to be or not, but ended up being my mentor. And then yeah, and then I also met Joe as well, who helped mentor me as well. But that was kind of the bug and that was like, the in 2020. It's like, where do I want to go? I like I said, I think we're all doing some self reflection. So

Dave West: 18:36
it's interesting. I mean, yeah, we are many of our community Scott being one of them. Love to get it's strange,because they want others to join the community, though, you'd think that they want to be specialists and unique and, and unique. But the the reality is our community is is a very collaborative, supportive environment. And that's part of the process. You know, we we mentor, and hopefully it's a learning process has become a PSTN. It's great that it was was for you. So all right, so now you're a PST and doing the PST thing around professional Scrum.One thing that our listeners really it's an interesting topic and you think that everybody would give the same answer but what does professional scrum mean to you? And you're gonna what do you what do you what does it mean to you?

Andreanna Marshall: 19:38
It to me, it basically means we're not going through the motions. We actually give a crap that's my like,simple way of putting it. I think I've been on a team maybe two that doing you know, I have all the artifacts doing all the events have the right you know accountabilities, but there are are just isn't in it. And they're sick of it and they're tired. And they're not improving, but they're checking the boxes. So it's just really,it's not a team. You can call yourself a scrum team. But are you really, you know, committed to each other? Do you care? Are you speaking up when necessary?I mean, I've seen some teams where it's like, okay, we know something's wrong, and we're still doing it. Right. So I think it's, I mean, we could talk properly about the scrum values and actually living those out. But I think also really,really caring about what you're doing caring about the people around you. bonding together, I think those are really important than that creates professional scrum to me.

Dave West: 20:42
Yeah, I mean, yeah,delivering value with those values, just to overuse the word value is fundamental and, and crucial. And I think the point that you raised, I think about team being at the heart of this,the essence, you know, one of the criticisms of Scrum often is that it is all about teams. But at the end of the day, they're the people that deliver value and ultimately are accountable for that value. And, and that innovation and, and the like. So it's great to hear you care so much about teams. All right. So we try to keep these short.Because, you know, it's about the average commute time,obviously, the sense the pandemic, those commute times are a little bit more confusing.But maybe it's the time to go in iron two shirts, or walk the dog through try to keep it that sort of timeline, or this podcast series. If somebody's listening to this, and they might be, you know, maybe they're working on their first scrum project, maybe they've been accidentally transported from executive assistant to to Scrum Master.What would you what would be the advice that you would give them?

Andreanna Marshall: 22:01
I think what made me really successful is I was more than enough to just try different things. And when I talk to people, they kind of stay in this box. So I'll say,Oh, why don't you try this?They're like, isn't that a Kanban? thing? I'm like, if Where does it say you can't do that? Like, where does it say you can't do that, like, be willing to try new things with your scrum team. Be willing to learn new things. And really,just be courageous and and give it your best. I didn't personally have a mentor at that time. I wish I did. If I were to go back, I would also recommend getting a mentor. So a lot of what I had to do, and depending on what type of environment you're in, you might not be able to get one was trial and error.And you know, when it was great,fantastic. When I failed, I admitted the failure, I took the lesson, and I got better. And I think that's what I would recommend for anyone.

Dave West: 23:05
I love that. That's really, really great advice.Eight, I love the getting outside your box. I think it is so easy. I mean, I still I do it. And I'm you know, supposedly I know a little bit about agile and some of what we're doing, I get so into the routine. And so into what I've always done is sometimes forget to take that step back and try things just because life's always about learning. And the last thing you want to do is, you know, on your deathbed, which sounds very depressing, but on maybe your retirement party, and you say somebody says, Oh, why did you do that? Or why didn't you do that? Which is an awful thing to hear? Or because I just didn't think to do it. And I think you can so that's really awesome advice. Thank you for spending these 1520 minutes with us today. I definitely learned a lot about you. I'm super excited to come out and see you in LA now so that we can hang out in the valley, whatever that is.I've I've Yeah, I guess it's the bit below the mountain tops with the Hollywood sign. Right. Is that right? Yeah, basically.Gosh, that was a surprising moment of intelligence by me. So there we go. We always

Andreanna Marshall: 24:22
say like,over the hill, the other side

Dave West: 24:25
over the hill. Okay.I can't wait to spend time with you over the hill at some time in the future. Thank you for sharing your insights. i This has been really valuable.Hopefully our listeners found that as well. So this is Dave West at the community.Podcast. I was fortunate today to hear Andriana Marshall a PST a from LA talking about her journey to become a PST and her passion for Team is making them really successful. So, thank you Andriana for today. Thank you.And thank you listeners for listening. I appreciate this and hopefully you got something valuable out of it and, and if not, there's always another podcast. You can just come and listen to in the future. Thanks everybody. Bye bye

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