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The Digital Engineers of Nitor: Olina is driving agile transformations with a visual approach

Published in People

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April 13, 2023 · 6 min read time

In Agile, there’s always something new to learn. Few know this better than Olina Glindevi, who soon has over 10,000 followers on LinkedIn thanks to her Visual Agile Coach business, where she shares agile lessons using drawn images. Her love for agile methods and leadership has also brought her success as a Senior Scrum Master at Nitor.

Olina, how did you find your way into the IT world?

I was working in administration and finance for a company and found it terribly boring. So, they were looking for someone internally to manage the event department's websites. Prior to that, I had tried different jobs, including a stint as a flight attendant. But this was my first job in IT.

I've been painting all my life, and in my spare time, I have made websites. This new job turned out to be really fun and creative since I got to use my painting skills. I climbed the ladder and eventually became a Production Manager before finally stepping into a proper IT project management role.

But you haven't had to leave your artistic side behind, have you?

No, painting is a part of my DNA that I have been able to weave into my work. I now run a business called ‘The Visual Agile Coach’ and have almost 10,000 followers on Linkedin.

Wow! What is ‘Visual Agile Coach’ and how did you come up with it?

A few years ago, I was working on an IT project where I was thinking a lot about dense text communication and how to make it more digestible. I looked into my sketch-noting and realised that I had something. I could use my artistic side and combine it with ideas about communication, which has resulted in the images combined with text known as ‘the Visual Agile Coach’ on Linkedin.

Why do you think your images have attracted so much attention?

I hope that I have a unique way of expressing myself, where I communicate using visuals in a simple and effective way. Humorous messages with a simple colour palette: that has become my brand. My images have attracted a lot of attention, and have led to invitations to conferences and even the opportunity to write a book.

Visual Agile Coach drawing by Olina Glindevi

Tell us: what made you fall in love with agile leadership?

Because agile has so many models, frameworks and working methods, and so much psychology, you’re never finished learning.

When I encountered agile, I immediately felt it had a completely different mindset, one involving humility and respect for the skills that others possess. There is an inherent desire to do good things and to work with a ‘servant leadership’ mentality, where people are respected rather than treated as cogs in a machine. This is something that Nitor totally endorses. I have always appreciated agile leadership but never had the chance to immerse myself in it before.

That's great to hear. How did your agile journey bring you to Nitor?

I was collaborating with the Nitoreans Björn Heselius and Andrew Walker for a client, and I felt a strong need for a career shift. I felt that it had to be the right fit if I changed jobs. Björn and Andrew spoke so highly of Nitor that I felt confident in my decision to come here. And I was right!

What do you do today?

I now work as an RTE (Release Train Engineer) responsible for a release train with six teams, totalling 80 people. You might say that I am naturally driven and I love challenges, which is why I have also taken on a very challenging assignment. There is only so much challenge I can handle every day, haha. I grow each day, but one challenge is the way we are spread out across the world, and leading hybrid teams is not always easy. Driving agile transformation and taking people from ‘old ways to new ways’ can be tough.

In the future, I hope to work more as a consultant with coaching and especially with visuals, as this area is still in its infancy. I love working as an Agile Coach.

From what do you draw strength and power?

Nitor is very supportive, and I have incredibly competent colleagues. If I face a challenge, I know I have experienced colleagues whom I can contact via Slack. I throw out questions several times a week and always get help. The threshold for signing up for courses or conferences is also very low at Nitor, so I don't need to explain if I want to learn something.

Olina has a unique and brilliant way of combining creativity, art and agile practices. She is an inspiration as a professional and also as a woman. I'm glad to call her my colleague!

- Karola Klarl, Lean Agile Coach

And how do you feel about your work–life balance?

Well, to be honest, there’s a bit of an imbalance at the moment, although I know how important recovery is. I like boxing and working out, so it’s nice when I have time for that. I wish I could take advantage of the huge array of benefits at Nitor. It's like a buffet table! But I don't have time for more than a sandwich at the moment! 

A healthy work–life balance is important for everyone, but I think it's especially important for female leaders who have children and all that entails.

And the obvious follow-up question, what's it like being a woman in a senior position in such a male-dominated industry?

Yes, there are lots of men in IT! Now that I think about it, I’ve always worked in male-dominated industries, so I don't have much to compare with. I think that we women, regardless of our industry, face challenges, including men having difficulties with women in leading positions. I've been lucky enough to work with both male and female Agile Coaches, which feels great. As I said, I don’t have much comparison.

How do you feel now: was Nitor the right workplace for you?

Absolutely! We have a great dynamic in our group in Sweden. They feel like the cream of the crop. Everyone is driven and passionate, and I feel lucky to be a part. My colleagues are like a group of friends. If you're having a shitty day, you can walk into the office and say: ‘I need a hug’. You will get one!

We call Nitoreans Digital Engineers, which I feel is a working state of mind. Digital Engineers, despite their role, are curious and creative, and supportive team players - internally and with the customers. When needed, they’ll challenge, but always with a positive approach.

Thank you for joining the team at Nitor, Olina. Good luck on your agile journey!

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.

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