The Back Story – Rachna Verma

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The Back Story – Rachna Verma
Rachna Verma – a senior employee at our Sydney office, joined us for our monthly interview series- The Back Story.

Our Monthly interview with one of the ADAPTOVATE team. Each month we ask one of our team from around the world to answer a few questions. While not in the same league as The Proust Questionnaire – we think it’s a great way to share our stories with you.

Special COVID-19 11th question edition.

This month we sat down and spoke with Rachna Verma – a consultant in our Australian office.


1. First up – how long have you worked with us?

From March 2019.

2. Why did you join us? Were you in the industry previously, or looking for a new career direction?

I’ve been working in Transformation/Agile for 6 years. Firstly in Finance Transformation for an airline and secondly as Product Owner in Financial Services.
I relished both roles and saw the positive effects of change and how Scrum Teams can solve problems when collaborating together. I enjoyed the pace of Agile and Scrum and the value the team was delivering to its customers.
It was now the time to take the leap and coach Agile teams which has landed me here at ADAPTOVATE. I have a real passion for helping others and since starting at ADAPTOVATE in March 2019, I’ve been solving client problems, building consulting skills, broadening my toolkit, working with an incredibly talented team and learning constantly.
Its been an amazing journey and one I’m very grateful for.

3. How has your previous experience and career helped define where you are now? Would you have done things differently?

I’m a Chartered Accountant and having a finance/business background has been a great asset. My Accounting qualifications have enabled me to work in professional services, inflight catering and financial services. Over time my interests developed in projects/continuous improvement work and this utilised capacity outside of the critical month end period.
I enjoyed finding ways to solve problems that kept recurring at month end and without action, would continue to occur. My first role in Transformation/Agile was for an airline in a Finance Transformation team and just quietly I. WAS. THRILLED.
The airline had just announced a significant headcount reduction and it was the responsibility of the team I worked in to get Finance prepared to operate with reduced FTE.
I jumped into a finance projects role at a large Australian bank and worked on various projects and fortuitously for me, Agile was rolled out. After receiving training, teams were formed and the team I was in was worked closely with Consumer Bank, Business Bank and Group Finance to improve reporting.
With my newly found PO hat on and a great scrum team, collectively we delivered three applications to enhance and improve performance reporting.
I have fond memories of working with supportive and engaged customers, weekend releases into production environments and a “one team” view working towards critical deadlines. Would I do things differently? A resounding no! My work experience in accounting has set me up to understand finance which is valuable in and outside of work and I’ve been able to leverage this and my previous work experience now as an Agile Consultant.

4. How do you balance your work life with your ‘real’ life – Do you have a good balance and how important is it to you?

Work/life balance is key, its one of the great things about working in Sydney. I do this by putting boundaries in place. I’m a morning person so exercise is key to reducing stress and having the energy to be able to tackle the day ahead.
I try to finish work at a reasonable time to allow me to indulge in cooking, films, yoga, book club and catching up with friends. There are some long days but the great thing about being on a case team at ADAPTOVATE is that ‘we’re all in this together” and the long days are temporary.

5. With so many of our team remote working, we always like to ask how do you have your home office/desk set up? Organised or chaos? Any top tips?

Organised, Organised, Organised! It’s the only way to be when you are facilitating back to back ceremonies. Colourful sharpies and post it notes brighten up my study and having an adjacent wall is great to set up visual tools.

6. Do you play music during your Agile workshops with clients? What do you recommend on your latest playlist?

No I don’t unfortunately but it would be a good improvement to add to my workshop runsheets!

7. How do you think technology has best helped humanity and do you have any concerns about our future?

Technology has helped and improved so many things! I can FaceTime and text message family and friends overseas. Long gone are the days of cranking up huge phone bills to stay in touch! COVID-19 has shown me how good technology is at keeping us connected and working. MS Teams, Zoom, MIRO and JIRA are a few tools that have really helped in sharing and communicating information whilst remote working. I’m constantly impressed at innovations in technology and its positive effects:
  • Drone technology to deliver vaccines and essential medical supplies to remote countries and isolated areas
  • School children spending their pocket money to 3D print PPE equipment for healthcare workers
  • Automakers and a collaboration of engineers, intensive care specialists, a manufacturing company and a university research facility creating ventilators I am concerned about the jobs of the future and how much they will be impacted by AI.
I think there are still some things best left to humans, I don’t think you can accurately  ‘code’ empathy.

[bctt tweet=”I think there are still some things best left to humans, I don’t think you can accurately ‘code’ empathy” username=”adaptovate”]

8. Strategic Foresight allows companies to detect changes early and ensure action is taken quickly. Which companies have you seen able to change and adapt quickly. (and hopefully using Agile methods to do so)

COVID-19 has forced businesses and companies to change and adapt incredibly quickly and its been very interesting to see the following changes implemented:
  • Rapid rollout of WFH technology. Projects that would take years were rolled out in a few weeks
  • Accelerating small business loan approval process
  • Automating ID verification for banking purposes
  • Accepting e-signatures on bank documents
  • Telehealth technology rapidly rolled out to provide patient care and safety to healthcare providers and patients
  • Museums and galleries offering virtual tours of their exhibits
  • Live theatre transitioning to videos of script readings and rehearsals
  • Guided virtual gin tastings with the tastings posted to you
  • Distilleries shifting production from alcohol products to hand sanitiser
  • Luxury brands pivoting production lines to sew and create nursing and medical scrubs; and face masks

9. What does success mean to you personally?

To me, success means to set a goal, plan the steps needed to achieve the goal, implement; and then achieve the goal. In addition, being happy both personally and professionally and know that I am delivering value to my clients is equally as important.

10. Finally – You’ve time travelled back to your 10- year old self – What advice would you give?

Have an open mind, believe in your abilities and seize every opportunity. You never know where it might lead you.

Special 11th Question – How have you found 2020, and working through life and work during COVID?

2020 started off wonderfully with all my extended family but very quickly turned sad with news of the devastating bushfires. I was full of optimism and was looking forward to new work opportunities, adventures, travel and personal growth … and boy did I get the last one! It has been a very tough and challenging three months since March but I think that’s the same for most people, no one saw a global pandemic coming.
There is less uncertainty now but back in the midst of lockdown I knew I was doing all I could in my control to maintain a level of safety and sanity. Its good to remember that at the end of a downer there is always an up and Sydney and Australia are on the way up thankfully.
Advice I heard recently was “don’t waste a crisis, crisis is where careers are made. Know your strengths and supercharge them and lean in to your passions”

So it got me thinking of the benefits of COVID-19:

  • It helped the client meet their project deliverables. I think the teams would have struggled to achieve them in normal circumstances but remote working brought us together and we achieved our goals with high alignment and high autonomy
  • Time to slow down and focus on what is important
  • The realisation of how little we actually need to survive
  • How important the simple things really are and the difference they can make Technology has been a huge contributor to the effectiveness and success of remote working.
I would not have been able to deliver value to ADAPTOVATE and clients if I didn’t have access to tools that enable collaboration and communication. Personally, sticking to a routine has helped. I continued with morning exercise which helped me to focus on the day and have the energy to deal with various curve balls. I found an activity that I wanted to improve so road running commenced and I’m working on improving cadence to improve my time. We have a Strava group at ADAPTOVATE and its great to see everyone’s activity. Having the time to cook is a luxury and I’ve indulged in trying out new recipes and enjoying the simple pleasures of a well cooked weeknight meal.

You can reach out to Rachna on Linkedin here



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