Inside ProDev: Qaiser Mazhar on his journey from Software Engineer to full time agilista

We’re carrying out a set of interviews with our ProDev team to find out what a day in the life of an Unruly developer looks like. This week we sat down with our Agile Coach Qaiser Mazhar to chat about his agile journey, becoming a father, and his love for gardening!

Q: Hi Qaiser, first of all, could you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about what you do?

QM: Hey, I’m Qaiser Mazhar and I’m the Agile Coach at Unruly. I’ve been here for almost six months. I coach teams and individuals at Unruly to harness the benefits of agile principles and practices through a variety of ways including games, workshops, catch ups and meetings. I’ve also been known to write a line or two of code!

Q: How did you end up here?

QM: I found out about Unruly a long time ago when I attended XP meetups at the old offices. I used to also see Rachel Davies, Unruly’s former Agile Coach, at conferences and events.

I heard about the Agile Coaching role at Unruly through a headhunter. I was due to start at a different company shortly after hearing about the role, but when I found out that it was for Unruly, and that Steve Hayes had recently become the new CTO, I knew this was an opportunity too good to pass up! Steve worked at Goldman Sachs around the same time as me, which is where I discovered that Steve was an agilista.

Working at a company where the founders built agile into its DNA is really rare. I’m excited to see what we can achieve!

Q: Tell us about life before Unruly…

QM: I’ve always been a big techie at heart! I started my career off as a software engineer at Goldman Sachs where I helped the company navigate the 2008 financial crisis using XP and lean practices.

From Goldman Sachs I moved to Rightmove where I worked in a split role as a Technical Lead and Agile Coach. I helped Rightmove transform their legacy tech and practices so that they were fit for the future. This was one of the most challenging, but rewarding experiences of my career to date. Echoing Rightmove parlance: in Agile, I had found my happy!

With success in digital transformation, I decided to take on a bigger challenge and so I joined Marks and Spencer as an Agile Coach and Delivery Lead. There was always amazing value to generate from supporting and growing multiple development teams, to improving communications between departments and supporting leadership teams. It wasn’t just any job, it was an M&S job!

Q: You’ve been on quite a journey! What draws you to this type of work?

QM: Working in a place where you can take a real-world problem, and turn it into an opportunity to create something that can improve the lives of millions of people on a daily basis is something I’ve been consistently drawn to in my career.

Moving from a Developer to an Agile Coach was a difficult choice but being able to support individuals, teams, and the wider business with their short, medium and long term challenges is incredibly rewarding. Working with everyone to cultivate a safe and sustainable environment where all Unrulies have a clear purpose, a pathway to mastery in the things we do, and the autonomy to get on with the task at hand is a continual process of improvement that is so varied that I am always learning and growing.

Q: How would you explain your job to your grandparents?

QM: I help my friends at work to discover and experiment with things that could help them work together better, delight our customers more often, and grow as a company in the long term, whilst having fun along the way.

Q: Tell us about something you’ve learnt while working here?

QM: I’ve learnt that not every fridge in the office is what it seems! (Editor’s note: Qaiser’s right, some of fridges have special properties!)

Q: Do you put your skills to work outside the office?

QM: I’m a London Java Community Associate, which is the steering group for the largest Java community in Europe.

Q: Got any side hustles?

QM: I used to have a side hustle in the recruitment tech space before joining Unruly. Becoming a new father and the fast pace of my day job meant I had to put that to bed.

For fun, I am considering creating an open source android app that combines elements of multiple productivity techniques alongside agile and lean practices. It’s on my to do list!

Q: It’s the weekend: what are you doing?

QM: My wife and I spend most of our weekends running after our son at activities and events! I love catching up with friends and family over coffees and dinners, and at home we’re keen gardeners so we spend most weekends working on our veg plot.

Q: What kind of challenges do the developers at Unruly tackle?

QM: There are always so many great ideas that our developers could be working on. As we grow parts of our business, some of our teams focus around scaling up our services so we can meet the increasing demand for existing services. We have teams that are focussed on thinking about future opportunities in areas like machine learning and big data. Then there are others building new features in existing services to break into new markets. It’s all very exciting and I’m always blown away by the things our developers do in their 20% learning time too!

Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?

QM: Working at Unruly during a time of massive growth is really interesting as an agile coach. Helping our teams scale, but still retain agile values by figuring out new ways of collaborating, prioritising and delivering value is really fun.

Q: And finally, what music do you listen to whilst working?

QM: I’m usually working with other people around the office but when I do have my headphones on I’m listening to Chillstep.

Want to join the Unruly family? You’re in luck, we’re hiring! Check out our job page for the latest roles!