Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Ex-Forces

Career Stories: From Royal Navy to Scrum Master

John Smith

Seamus Connolly has experienced a lot in his lifetime. In the 80’s, he served in the Royal Navy and more recently he spent seven years living in Colombia. This past July he prepared for his first placement on site as an FDM Consultant. After training through FDM’s Ex-Forces Programme he began working on site with Companies House, and now five months into this journey Seamus joined us for a Q&A about his latest experience.

Q: How do you think your training helped you prepare for life working as a Scrum Master and what do you enjoy most about your job?

Seamus: The training for Professional Scrum Master is centred around the Scrum Guide which, although it does cover all of the important aspects of Agile Scrum, is very concise and does leave many questions unanswered which requires some dedication to use other resources to expand your understanding and knowledge of Scrum implementation. The training covers the “what” and “why” but you have to discover the “how”.

Q: What’s one thing piece of advice you’d give to someone making that transition from training at FDM to working at a client side placement?

SC: The best piece of advice I could provide is to focus on your own performance. Identify the main milestones for your own personal growth and set deadlines to meet the objectives required to achieve your milestone goals.

Q: What does an example day at Companies House look like for a Scrum Master?

SC: The day starts with some reflective practice, reviewing the goals for the previous day and identifying what went well and where there is still room for opportunity for those specific tasks.

The Scrum Master role is fairly flexible and requires embracing change. The first team task on my agenda is facilitating the Daily Scrum for the development team – this is the meeting in which they form their plan for the day after exchanging their individual or team progression from the previous day. It is also their opportunity to raise any impediments to their progress which becomes my responsibility to remove on their behalf.

Much time is spent in determining the next most important area of development for the team and deciding the best way to effect the required change. Managing a Scrum Team requires a good measure of emotional intelligence as you seek to identify the correct buttons to press to help the team in their improvement.

Q: With two FDM Scrum teams now set up at Companies House what would you say are some of the advantages of working with other FDMers?

SC: The two teams are working on the same project and the feature that the second team have had assigned is a mirror of the work completed to date by team one. That allows us to share knowledge already gained by the initial team to accelerate the learning for the second team, reducing the number of pain points that they have to experience.

Q: Tell us something that we wouldn’t know about you?

SC: I only returned to the UK this year having lived in Colombia for the last seven years. Getting the opportunity to work in project management would not have been an option without the opportunity of joining FDM. My previous work was in mid-to-upper management roles, not IT specific.

For more personal note, I went to a Bob Marley concert here in the UK in 1979 and served with the Royal Navy during the Falklands conflict in 1982. I also have a black belt in Shaolin kung-fu

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