Who Are Five Top Women Leaders in Agile

- Agile HR, Leadership

by Julia Gain

What is Agile? And why is it so popular? Agile is an approach to project management and software development. More than a method, it’s a framework and a mindset based on The Manifesto for Agile Software Development created in 2001.

Its four principles are:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

Originally, Agile methods were meant for software development and getting the software to clients in a faster and more efficient way. Today, a large set of companies have adopted it in order to be more flexible and responsive. Studies show that “Agile projects are 28% more successful than traditional projects.”

Why should we talk more about women in Agile?

Encouraging diversity is one of the main issues of the 21st century. Sadly, only 29% of senior management roles are occupied by women. Striving for more diversity in the workplace is a way to create better companies by hearing new voices and discovering innovative leadership styles. Women are thriving but it’s still hard to see it because of sexist bias in companies and in the media. Highlighting women leaders in Agile and their experience is a way to encourage other women to do so and learn about different leadership styles.

Gender socialization explains how society impacts the way we develop skills according to our gender. As children, we are brought up according to our given gender and we are encouraged to develop certain attitudes, personality traits and skills corresponding to the gender role that is expected of us. For example, characteristics like assurance and competitiveness are encouraged for boys while girls tend to be taught to be calm, have empathy and take care of others. 

Theses traits also apply to different leadership styles. Stereotypical male leadership partly relies on aspects such as competitiveness, assertiveness and aggressiveness. On the other hand, female leadership is often associated with skills like collaboration, communication and inclusiveness. 

These skills are key in Agile leadership. If men hold 71% of top management positions, we’re definitely missing out. Agile leadership requires listening and collaboration skills as well as inclusiveness. Don’t forget: “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.”

Here are five inspiring female agile leaders

#1: Laura Powers: Laura Powers is an Agile coach and trainer. She founded Powered by Teams to help companies develop new ways of working and new skills like communication, collaboration and conflict management. She also co-founded the Women in Agile – San Francisco Bay Area chapter in order to build a local community that supports Women in Agile and helps develop agile leaders of the future. Mentorship is key for Laura Powers and she helps women work on their communication skills, especially for public speaking and conferences. 

#2: Emily Robinson: Emily Robinson is currently serving as a principal solutions architect at Oracle Utilities after working at People Strategy, an all-in-one HR platform, where she implemented Agile and scrum methodologies in order to improve operations, boost communication and over all increase user satisfaction. Her vision consists in helping development teams solve problems while always seeking to improve product offering. She was selected as a Top Woman Leader by the Software Report in 2019. 

#3: Monica Yap: Monica Yap was the first female Agile coach at Accenture | SolutionsIQ where she currently implements large-scale Agile business transformation. She is a role-model for introverts in the workplace and talks about her personal experience as one to help others take advantage of their qualities rather than go against them to thrive in the Agile field. 

#4: Nadia Vincent: Nadia Vincent is a speaker, a consultant, an author, a digital transformation executive advisor and a senior IT management consultant. She has been passionate about combining business and technology for over two decades and travels around the world to share her knowledge about Agile leadership, change and innovation. She is CEO of Digital Transformation Leaders, a platform that provides coaching, training and resources to help leaders and organizations succeed. 

#5: Meena Venkataraman: Meena Venkataraman is an Agile coach at Aire, a data and technology start-up that brings actionable credit insight to lenders. Her job consists in implementing Agile training and processes. She loves understanding how people function and never stops learning. She uses existing research on human behavior and team dynamics and applies it to her teams. She is also interested in diversity and how to make the workplace more inclusive. 

What women agile leaders do you know? Share your thoughts with using the comments below!

Photo credit Yanapi Senaud via Unsplash

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