Everything works out in the end. Don't waste your time searching for your one big passion in life. Open your mind to many experiences, and your true passions will emerge in time. That's the advice Shar Naidoo, an enterprise agile coach at Gravity Works, would give her younger self. Here she shares what she loves most about being a coach, the importance of finding your tribe at work, and why a little support would go a long way in helping women change the face of tech.
Can you tell us about your current role?
I'm an enterprise agile coach for Gravity Works, part of The Adaptavist Group. The scope of an agile coach can vary significantly from one organisation to the next. My role at Gravity Works is empowering teams and organisations to adopt the best working practices to help them achieve their long-term goals and vision.
What does being an enterprise agile coach mean to you?
It can mean many things, from having a seat at the table to getting down and dirty in the details or holding up a mirror to help teams reflect on where they are today versus where they want to be in the future. Ultimately it's about assisting teams to uncover opportunities for change and equipping them with the right mindset, tools, and support to get there.
How did you get into enterprise agile coaching?
It was my experience that led me to agile coaching rather than having any real career plan. It felt like a natural next step for me. And although I was apprehensive at first, I took to the role like a fish to water. It turns out that helping people improve how they work is my sweet spot.
Did you always want to work in tech?
I studied Information Technology but I had no idea the challenges being a woman in tech would face. Had I known, I would have done it all again anyway, just so that I could get to champion the many wonderful women I have met in tech over the years all over again.
Women are still underrepresented in technical roles. Being a coach offers a unique perspective on the issue, and I hope I can play my role in influencing change and helping teams embrace the value of diversity. I really believe women could rapidly change the face of tech if they were supported more.
What does a typical day look like?
In true agile fashion, a lot of my day is spent participating in agile ceremonies and leadership connect sessions. As a coach, there's a lot of talking, listening, and communicating via tools like Jira, Miro, Slack, etc. One of the best parts of my day is getting to work with many different teams and asking probing questions to help them solve complex problems.
What is a memorable moment in your career so far?
We once practised a mindfulness minute with a large program team. The insights it brought us were phenomenal. People participated because our roles allowed us to both influence and position it as a safe space—something teams don't get to do often enough!
What's the worst part of your job?
Believe it or not, many people see agile practices as involving magic and don't want the hocus pocus of it all in their lives. Even though you show the data science and psychology studies behind so many agile principles and practices, you still get those stuck in doing what they've always done and who see change as chaos. You don't always win that battle with everyone and knowing when you have to walk away from that instead of battling it out is always hard and really sucks!
And the best?
My role has always brought me into teams with like-minded folk, a tribe that suits me and my passions—a culture that feels like a home away from home. I'm lucky to meet and work with fascinating people every day who all share my love of knowledge and improving teams. I especially love when we win battles—when the least likely person in a team shows all the practices we demonstrated.
What do you want to do next with your career?
I would like to share what we do and the results we get with a broader audience. Ideally, I would like to use what we learn from improving how teams work together to teach kids career-readiness skills.
What's it like working for Gravity Works as part of The Adaptavist Group?
I have found my people, my tribe. Every gathering is a meeting of the minds and a powerful mission to help people in organisations in every way we can.
How do you use The Adaptavist Group benefits?
I use the unlimited leave to make occasions extra special in the Naidoo household–I always take leave on the kid's birthday or special concert days, etc., so I get to spend time with the kids and make memories.
What would you have told your younger self about work?
That everything works out in the end. There's no point in spending all your time worrying about finding that one passion. Instead, expose yourself to as many different experiences as possible. That way, you can discover many different skills and passions, not just one.
What has being a woman in tech meant for you? Has it impacted your career or experiences?
It means getting comfortable with being the only woman in the room sometimes. And that in some situations, your knowledge and expertise will be questioned or overlooked simply because of your gender. So when you find men and women that support and champion you in your career, you need to celebrate and hold on to them and build your network around them.
Every day I have opportunities to reverse this trend and actively challenge unfair perceptions of women. For me, it's about being unafraid to show up every day and be counted, even when it doesn't feel that way. It works, trust me; someone out there sees you and is inspired, so keep going!
Anything else you'd like to share?
Joining Gravity Works was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I feel so grateful and supported to be in a role and company that both challenges me and brings me so much joy.
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Watch our Women in Tech webinar, to find out more about our technical roles, life at The Adaptavist Group, and what it takes to be a woman in tech.
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