BEING AGILE AS A SCRUM MASTER & MOTHER.
Alissa is a care-taker. Someone who loves to unite people and tries to stay positive - no matter how chaotic the situation is. Her way of organizing, aligning, and planning serves as a powerful skill for her work and personal life. In this article, you will read about how she uses leave benefits to spend more time with her family and how she navigates through work life while being a mother of two during and after the pandemic.
After graduating in business administration in Munich, her first career steps started at different digital agencies that build products like websites or apps for clients. In her role as a traditional Project Manager, she was in charge of clarifying the scope, staffing different teams for various projects, and being the main responsible person if anything was unclear or went wrong.
"Sometimes I was just a firefighter because if a project is not going well, I must jump in. It can be really challenging because when you start working with a new company or team, you don't know the people and you immediately have to adjust. But this was actually also the point I liked most about the job."
Alissa is a people person. Someone who gets along easily with new people from various backgrounds and areas. Something that can be rooted in her bubbly and open personality.
THE START AT MERCEDES-BENZ.IO
After freelancing for seven years, and already having one foot in the tech industry, she decided to take the next step and prepared herself for becoming a scrum master.
"Doing a Scrum Master certificate only takes two days of learning and training, but you don't really have the experience of doing it. The role brings various challenges for different teams. So, there's not a real blueprint for it."
In 2018, she started working at Mercedes-Benz.io in Berlin and she quickly realized that contrary to a Project Manager, she sometimes needs to give people more space and enable them to work by themselves - rather than intervening and taking over tasks too early.
During her first year as a Scrum Master, Alissa got pregnant with her second child. As she was already a mother, she was aware of the upcoming challenges, so she decided to take a one-year maternity leave break. In Germany, parents are allowed to take up to three years of maternity leave together. And it's up to them how they want to split up the leave time.
"I think company-wise, it's really, really nice how Mercedes-Benz.io handled the maternity leave and how flexible the company is. We immediately looked for another scrum master who would take over my job to keep the transition smooth. It's something I really appreciate."
COMING BACK FROM MATERNITY TO A NEW WORLD
As it happens, the first day back at work with her new team after the maternity leave was also the day when the Corona lockdown has been officially announced in Germany - leading to one of the most demanding times in her career.
"It was challenging for everyone, but I assume especially for my young developers in Portugal as they had a really hard lockdown. As a Scrum Master, you would like to take care of the team and do sanity/health checks from time to time."
While she has been adjusting to the pandemic situation with her partner and two kids at home on her own, Alissa has been trying to keep the team together and enhance the positive mood by organizing multiple remote team events, online breakfasts, and regular check-ins.
"Since the pandemic started and the kindergarten was closed, my partner and I were working without any breaks. You couldn't separate personal and work life and then you come into situations where your children, for example, are constantly screaming and crying and you're in the middle of a presentation."
For Alissa and many others, the pandemic was an adjustment on various levels. The switch from office to home, having fewer personal scrum meetings, and taking care of her two very young children with her partner who also has to work from home. It's an experience that can be stressful and exhausting after 1 1/2 years.
And that's when she decided to have another one-year parental leave to have time for her kids, partner, and most importantly for herself.
CLEAR TRANSPARENCY & RESPONSIBILITIES
In the last months, Alissa has been returning to work for 25 hours per week - approaching the work with new agile habits and a different mindset for good.
"I started to do meditation every morning and it helps me to be more grounded and to adapt to changes way better. My husband and I are also having more clear responsibilities now - from who's bringing the kids to school or who's taking care of the dinner. We even divide the weeks into mother/father or babysitter days. It's important to have transparency and to have regular check-ins because things can change easily when someone is for example sick in the family."
To Alissa, Mercedes-Benz.io provided a helpful environment for her family and made it easy to take breaks or transition back to work slowly in the last five years. With the company benefit Flextime, she's also able to schedule and balance her working hours in the way she needs it. If she for example can't join a meeting due to the sickness of her children or if she needs to pick them up from kindergarten, she can catch up on the working hours at a different time and day.
Even though there are some parallels in how she approaches work and parenting now, it's obvious that these are still different pairs of shoes:
"If you're going to be a parent, there's no certificate or onboarding on this. Almost everything is learning by doing and you have to keep understanding the kids and adapt to them. My partner and I even did parent coaching, which is recommendable if you want to understand even more what it means to be a parent and how to get a sense of your kids in different ways."
Alissa is a mother. Someone who cares about her family and tries to make things right. While her skill is to know how to shift priorities constantly, it's quite clear that her number one priority will always be her family.
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