As part of our Meet a Making Senser series, we interviewed Jennifer Greyling, one of our top Project Managers. Jennifer came to Making Sense in 2014, and has enjoyed her time here over the past two years. She is able to focus on her work and the needs of our clients while also making sure she has time to spend with her three children and family.
Here, you’ll find my conversation with Jennifer, where it’s clear that she has a real passion for her job.
N: Tell me about your career.
J: I studied systems oriented for enterprises, so I have kind of a technical background, but I always enjoyed the aspects more related to the processes and functional parts of companies. I enjoy observing how people participate in different activities to achieve things, and I imagine how this process could be changed to be more efficient – faster and with less effort.
I used to live in the capital city of Argentina, Buenos Aires, and started my professional career at Accenture, as a Consultant, in huge projects, first doing programming and later leading teams. At the time, we used waterfall methodology and languages such as COBOL and DB2 tables.
We always wanted to move somewhere in the nicer neighborhoods of Argentina (“El Interior,” as they call it). We went on vacation to Tandil in 2004; it was a nice place that included a mix of small town and city. It also has a university, Universidad Nacional del Centro de la Provincia Buenos Aires and a growing tech sector. Tandil is named for a famous stone perched on the edge of rocky foothill in the early 1900’s. The city has a rich cultural history, and is known for its mild, humid climate and rocky geography.
At that time, I already had my first two children, and was expecting my third when we moved to Tandil, to acquire a better life quality and continue with my career.
During my career, I continued as a Project Manager and was in contact with clients; I became head of the office in several different IT companies in Tandil.
N: How did you start at Making Sense, and what do you like best?
J: I began working at MS in 2014. Every time I passed by the company office here in Tandil, it attracted me. The Human Resources department called me, and I was curious about the company. I liked the type of projects they worked on, as well as the familiar and family-oriented working environment. I also do home office every time I need it, as MS allows me to have a flexible schedule. I have freedom to decide the best decision for the family and the job. However, my main focus of my work is the clients and their needs, as well as attending any blockers of needs the team members might have.
N: What do you do right now? How is your daily work?
J: Right now, I work with two accounts, EVEO and COPsync, each of which include very diverse projects.
EVEO is a new account. We started the project by traveling to their offices in San Francisco together with the Tech Lead. Going to their offices was a good opportunity to work with closer with them, plan thoroughly the first project that we did together and coach them on Agile, which was new to the company (but not for many members that embraced that change). So we planned and did an Agile training at their offices with most of the company’s development department members, as well as managers and directors.
COPsync is an historical account here at MS and it was the first account I worked with and continue to do.
On a daily basis I perform management tasks such as building hours reports, managing staffing issues, planning new projects or existing ones, building timelines, backlogs, helping to prioritize work, etc, and for project, I cover the Scrum Master role where my main goal is to remove any blockers or issues the team members might have to continue building the products as planned. I am also the main link between the client and other team members at MS.
I schedule and participate in the regular Scrum meetings:
- We have daily meetings, where each member sais what they did, whet the plan to do for the day and if they have blockers
- Every 15 days, we host a planning meeting to map out the following sprint and estimate stories
- We also review the sprint in a demo meeting where we show the product owner the work we’ve completed.
- We have retrospectives meetings, where we analyze what went well, what went wrong and we all think about action plans for the things that went wrong.
- We also have meetings to discuss continuous improvement for all the projects.
As a Project Manager, I also manage the schedule of the teams, as well as the budgets, status reports were we assess risks, issues, backlog status, weekly objectives and our timeline with achievements. Here the general status of the project is reviewed.
I also participate in the initial phases of a projects where we estimate the effort, we plan a timeline, build the teams and schedule the required hours. During this time, we also establish the methodology settings such as sprint duration, meeting agenda, spin up the project in a tool such as JIRA, start working and defining the backlog, estimating it, etc.
N: What do you think about visiting clients? How is it working on-site with them although we are based somewhere else?
J: I’ve visited several cities in the U.S., including Miami, Chicago, San Francisco, Mountain View in the Silicon Valley. You build great relationships, get to know the team members, and can work in a more natural, closer way with the client. You get to know them in a different way. The relationship is more fluid, and it is much easier to work with them once you’ve met in person. You also tend to agree on any matter, specially in the planning phase much faster.
N: Why do you think agile is good to work with?
J: The whole team works together with the client and the product owner. It’s a transparent way to work, as the client is part of the whole process. Even in the retrospective meetings, the client is able to learn and become more aware of what went well and what didn’t. They are part of all decisions on how to improve and work toward our stated objectives.
There is more transparency, more predictability, and the process is more fun! Because the developers manage their own work, there is more camaraderie. They work and review each other’s code, and in that way, we preserve quality among peers.
We have a board where we can all see the tasks we are working on and the progress of each. I don’t have to ask the team about the status of each task, as I can see them on this board when ever I need to. We can support changes while we go through the project – this is a very well-known aspect of agile.
N: What do you do in your free time?
J: I have three kids and enjoy being with them. I also like to train myself in soft skills. Right now, I am taking a three-year course in coaching. My studies here help myself and others to get the best of them, it helps teams to be more effective in the resolution of issues. This course will also help review and resolve of any aspects that need change or improvement, including how to react better in every situation, even those that are a bit rough, and come up with a more satisfying result for everyone. Coaching helps to work with a team, and I can apply it for life and for work!
Here, it’s clear that Jennifer not only has lofty expectations for her work here at Making Sense and with her clients, but in her life overall. We’re very happy to have her as a Project Manager on our team.
Check back later to read more interviews with our Making Sensers, and learn more about our team.