In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, agility has become the foundation of success for organisations striving to stay ahead of the curve. At JLR, one individual who plays a pivotal role in driving agile transformation is Oliver, a Senior Agile Delivery Lead based in the Manchester Digital Delivery Centre (DDC). With his wealth of experience and passion for continuous learning, Oliver has become an integral part of JLR’s journey towards agility. In this Q&A session, we delve into Oliver’s career progression, explore his contributions to various projects, discover what makes JLR’s Agile culture stand out, and gain insights into his personal journey.
Q: What position did you start in and what is your position now? Please describe your current responsibilities.
I started as a communications manager on contract in 2020 before achieving a permanent role as a senior Agile Delivery Lead (ADL) in Manchester’s Digital Delivery Centre (DDC) in October 2022.
I form part of a software squad overseeing API development for Global Financial Services, currently transforming the financial services model for 8 of JLR’s European markets. As an ADL, my role involves mentoring, coaching and leading a cross-functional squad working in Agile and DevOps, comprising of digital engineers with varying skillsets to ensure consistent ways of working. Along with our team’s Product Owner, I coordinate the iterative approach we take to product delivery. As part of my role as an ADL, I regularly interact with the wider organisation to give talks and workshops about Agile, which is a definite highlight of my work at JLR.
Q: Are you involved in any other projects / networks? If so, please describe what they are and what your contributions are.
The Digital Engineering team have an internal projects workflow, where team members can use their allocated 20% development time on something that interests them and can have impact to JLR. I have used this time to team up with software engineers from the DDC to develop a Team Health Check integration for Slack, to help us better shape our working environment. Our aim is to develop this for MS Teams for enterprise use across JLR.
I am also proud to be part of Digital’s first ever Team Improvement Circle (TIC). This, traditionally manufacturing-based, initiative encourages small teams of people to identify improvements to where we work. Our TIC team has been focussed on improving the awareness of the Manchester site across JLR and the magnificent work our people do. I have found that there is always something to get involved with to help shape and improve life at JLR!
Q: What do you like about working here?
The energy around our team and office is exhilarating. I have never worked in such a diverse environment, in which everyone can be themselves, have impact, and help shape the future of JLR’s digital transformation. I love that when you walk into our office you would not know who ‘the boss’ is. Having a much flatter hierarchy ensures that everyone has a voice and feel enabled to work how they want to get the most out of themselves. Being new to software, I feel extremely fortunate to work in an environment that champions learning & development as part of productivity.
Q: What are your career aspirations? Do you feel that you get the necessary support from your management / department to help achieve your learning & development goal?
I am very fresh in the world of Agile and I adore working in this way, but fully understand that development is a never-ending endeavour. For now, my aim is to continue the steep learning curve I have put myself on and develop within my role in Delivery. In the future, I would like to make use of my background in teaching and tutoring to become an Agile Coach and help support JLR’s transformation to become a fully Agile organisation.
Q: Describe your team / department, and what makes it stand out from our competition?
As well as what I have mentioned above, my department does not just talk the talk, it lives and breathes the culture of Agile, which translates into each day being more exciting than the last. We work in an open and honest environment where integrity matters. Finger pointing and blame have no place in our department as it stifles collaboration… we want to continually push ourselves to develop and try new things and failure is a big part of that process – we learn quicker this way.
Q: Tell us 3 interesting facts about yourself.
I have a HUGE passion for cycling and encouraging others to get involved. While I am an aspiring Ultra-cyclist, I love nothing more than trying to inspire others to ride their first miles on a bike. I set up a cycling group within an addiction charity with funding from Sport England as an outlet for those in recovery, as cycling helped save my own life from addiction. I won the British Cycling National Outstanding Achievement award for this work.
Whenever I need to travel to another JLR site, I will commute by bicycle wherever possible, which sometimes means hundreds of miles per week. It helps with my training, my headspace and is my own contribution towards JLR’s NetZero strategy!
I set myself regular challenges on the bike, including Land’s End to John O’Groats in 4 days and completing 6 ascents of Mont Ventoux, in France, within a single day to become part of a club that has fewer people as members than have been into space.
Q: What hints and tips can you share with the potential candidates who are going through the application / interview process?
Be yourself! Our team only grows stronger with people who offer their own experience and insights into our work rather than a cookie cutter of what you may think is expected. Experience is always valuable, but we have a true focus on behaviours and how new team members from various backgrounds can help shape our culture. Have confidence in your weaknesses as well as your strengths as they could be you biggest asset in the right context. Demonstrate clear passion, not only for work, but what makes you a well-rounded individual.
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