ArticleMarch 2, 2023 · 7 min read time
He was a French teacher from Northern Ireland who decided to go and work at Disneyland in Paris. There he met his future Swedish wife and all of a sudden he found himself working as a tester in Stockholm and then was asked to become a Scrum Master. Andrew Walker’s career shift is something that we at Nitor are very happy about – especially as he has done a lot for our culture.
Hi Andrew, so tell us – how on earth did you end up as a Scrum Master?
Haha, well, when I moved to Sweden, my plan was actually to become an English teacher (instead of teaching French). At that time, if you wanted to be an English teacher in Sweden, you still needed to speak fluent Swedish which I definitely did not!
Then a friend of mine asked me how I’d fancy being a tester for an online gambling company. How hard can it be? I asked.
...Well, was it hard?
It started off as fun and actually I ended up working as a tester for almost 10 years but I started to become unhappy with my job, as the company I was at worked in a very old-fashioned way. I went on parental leave for 8 months to take care of my adopted son, who was 2 years old at the time, but was already thinking that something had to change if I was going to stay there.
When I got back, they asked if I wanted to become a Scrum Master. I had no idea what it meant! I soon learned that the Scrum Master helps teams work efficiently and visualise what they are doing so that others can understand it. Another important responsibility for an SM is also to keep the team happy.
Did you have to study anything before taking on the job?
While I was teaching back in Northern Ireland, I also studied for an MSc in Computer Science. To be honest it didn’t teach me that many useful things, it was all very theoretical but it gave me a good grounding in the IT area. Before I started as a Scrum Master, I took a Scrum Master certification course which taught me the ideas behind Scrum and what I would work with as a Scrum Master. Then I just had the small challenge of translating the theory of the course into the practicality of real life in a development company.
I see! But how did you find Nitor?
I started working as a Scrum Master for Trafikförvaltningen, where I met Björn Heselius from Nitor. He asked if we could have lunch together and he thought that I had both the values and skills that Nitor was looking for. Since I had just changed jobs, I was not really interested in another change. He kept on asking and asking over three years and, eventually, I decided to see what this Nitor thing was all about. Two interviews later and I really liked what I was hearing. A move to Nitor was definitely my next step.
What are the values at Nitor, you’d say?
We have a very inclusive culture and there’s a lack of hierarchy. The Managing Director, Sebastian, is my direct boss. It’s actually my first job where people are the most important thing rather than money. At other jobs you have to stick it out if you’re not happy with what you are doing. At Nitor, they are focused on finding you an assignment that you’re happy with and want to be at. When I learned this, I knew that this was the place where I wanted to be.
That’s nice to hear! What are your strengths as a Scrum Master?
Well, I’m a person with very extroverted preferences. I’m the kind of guy that makes sure that everyone feels included. I spend a lot of time talking to people to see how they are getting on and if there is anything I can do to help them. As you can imagine, the pandemic was a nightmare for me being stuck at home all day every day!
In my role, you need to be very flexible and have a lot of patience. Even though I know that the changes I want to implement will have a positive effect, the team does not always see it. When that happens I am very good at really looking at the various alternatives available and evaluating them objectively even if the idea did not come from me. Sometimes I have to convince people to go my way, sometimes it means meeting in the middle and sometimes it is me who has to give up what I want to fulfil someone else’s needs.
Right now, I am working in public services. It’s a fairly new job where my focus is to get the team onboard, help them see the big picture and understand what I can do to give them the most value.
What do you Digital Engineers have in common? Is there a typical Digital Engineer, you’d say?
In my opinion, there is no typical digital engineer. For example I know a lot of Scrum Masters but everybody has their own way of doing things. Then we have our developer colleagues who know much less about Scrum and its benefits but much more about how to create the systems our clients need and so on.
Nitoreans in Sweden are very decentralised. Here we all work at different clients so, while we can bounce ideas off each other, there is no direct client knowledge shared between us. That makes us Digital Engineers in Sweden rather independent too.
For me, the most important thing that Digital Engineers have in common is our goal of making a difference for the client whether that be through improved ways of working, a more stable code base or an amazing design for a new service.
Being very extroverted, how do you manage to always stay positive at work?
Of course I have bad days too and can get frustrated with an assignment or a colleague, but after chatting to my fellow Nitoreans it’s all good again. You explode and then you’re okay again. Being in the middle you might wonder what the heck is going on sometimes but it’s okay for everyone to have a bad day as long as they do not take it out on someone else for no reason. Having colleagues who are my friends makes it so much easier to come back down to earth, refocus and get back on the horse.
Andrew is a creative agile practitioner, who's always able to lend you an ear and is open to share his ideas. He has a great sense of humor and sure brings joy to the working place
- Olina Glindevi, Senior Scrum Master
Since joining Nitor, I know for a fact that you have fallen in love with the culture and that you’ve been engaged with the cultural work too. Tell us more!
A big part of the culture is that you can get involved with the things you want to. In my case this has been centred mainly around our social activities. We have formed our own little event committee who take care of everything from nights out bowling to the annual Christmas and Summer parties and ski trip.
For me the feeling of us all working together is very important and the combination of being consultants (who are often out at client sites) and the pandemic, when we were not able to meet in person, made that much more difficult. My favourite thing we have done so far is to start an annual barbecue party in the summer. We hang out, talk together, prepare food, play Kubb and so on. All in all, just a very relaxing way to reconnect with the people who we do not work with on a daily basis.
Sounds awesome. Making families a part of Nitor is also very important, right?
Yes, we also have regular events where our other halves, kids and so on are also welcome. Last summer we had a day out at Gröna Lund which was great fun. I look forward to finding something similar this year.
While it may come across as false modesty, I do not see these cultural activities as work that I am doing. These are things that I have chosen to do because I think it’s fun and interesting. The fact that Nitor pays me to do it is just the icing on the cake!
We are very happy that you’re a part of our team, Andrew. Thank you so much for the interview!
In this campaign, we’ll introduce Nitoreans in different roles. Every Nitorean is a Digital Engineer: a pragmatic and solution-oriented helper who doesn’t settle for assumptions. Instead, they take one step further to seek the right questions and even better answers.