Samir takes a short break to say “cheese

Inside ABOUT YOU

Get to know our growing family. Follow our Inside ABOUT YOU blog series and catch a brief glimpse of the people behind Germany’s most exciting e-commerce project!

Vol. 1: Samir — Agile Process Manager from our Lean Process Development team

1. What’s your job at About You?

I work as a Agile Process Manager in the Lean Process Development team at About You. My position in general is focused on two areas: agile process management and agile project management.

If I needed to describe the mission of agile process management in one sentence, it would be: Making sure the teams are focused on doing what they can do best — Develop the best and most innovative products. To ensure success, we use several frameworks, principles, and patterns from agile and lean development. My scope of duties support the entire supply chain within each team, such as stakeholder management, build up, prioritization, evaluation, and implementation of software product increments.

The second area, agile project management, is focused more on cross team topics and projects. Most teams already have a project manager which takes the responsibility of coordinating internal work flows. For projects that are touched by multiple teams and/or have a long timeline, my role becomes vital to the process. Here, my duties encompass drafting project plans, clarification of responsibilities, solving blockers, risk management, and monitoring project progression.

2. How and when did you discover your interest and passion for your current job?

I’m a process driven person. Since my youth, every time I’ve encountered a bigger challenge, my mind tries to construct a pattern in order to solve it. I also love to reverse engineer daily situations, like how bus traffic is managed, how super markets handle their supply chain, or how the production process looks for specific products.

I had my first experience with project management during my training as an IT specialist for system integration. I learned to coordinate projects and what it means to take due dates into account. My love for agile development was discovered during my traineeship as a project manager. I was fascinated with how agile teams work together. From that point on I realized that ownership, responsibility, transparency, and trust are essential principles for success. That is what makes us strong at About You.

3. Can you name 3 qualities or characteristics that an agile process manager needs?

As agile process manager you are often faced with more complex or even completely unclear problems to solve. Our job is to provide the teams with tools and options to shed some light on the problem and split it into achievable tasks.

To ensure the best possible support, we need to have a clear understanding of the problem, including the edge cases and possible goals. We are basically the navigators.

To ensure a smooth and efficient optimization of processes, we guide the teams to bear two essential values in mind:

  1. Enable change → Accept changes as a natural process.
  2. Leave the comfort zone → Courage to try new things, even when they seem unusual in the beginning.

In motivating a team to live these values, we need to be the role models. For that, these core values should be in our DNA.

Finally, agile process management requires effective communication. It’s our most powerful tool in order to connect different levels of the company and increase awareness of a specific topic. To put it another way, we have to be able to explain something to a CEO, as well as a developer or designer. We need to be sensitive with the manner in which we communicate, as many of the tasks we’re confronted with are handled on the fly.

4. What does your typical workday look like?

One characteristic of my job is the high level of flexibility in daily processes. As I have several teams and projects to manage, every day looks different from another. Daily stand up meetings are just about the only thing happening on a regular basis. The rest of the day is packed with routines, planning, reviews, coordination meetings, and a lot of one-to-one communication.

We experience a lot of theme changes and need to work on several topics / projects at the same time. For example, we always have an open ear for ad hoc support when colleagues and teams are in need. In order to stay focused on the highest priority and preventing tasks slipping through our hands, we manage our tasks through physical and digital boards. I for example, use Trello as a personal organizer — prioritization and good documentation is key.

As you can see, it never gets boring :)

5. What’s the most exciting project you’ve worked on lately?

Hmm, for instance, I remember one bigger project: process optimization for our operations team. We supported the team during several processual iterations until we worked out an efficient and good running process. The goal of the project was to increase transparency, work on the right priority, focus on the team and increase predictability for future efforts.

We started with KANBAN, transformed to a more KANBAN — SCRUM mix, and then found our optimal (for now) process in SCRUM with light support from KANBAN.

All in all, the project was an overall success as we now have a more motivated team, higher output and quality, and improved communication with stakeholders.

6. What does your workspace look like?

Minimalist as it can be — still very limited, logically arranged, and well structured…with a lot of post-its sticking around. The colorful bits of paper everywhere help me prepare for my retrospective talks.

At least two more things which should never be missed on my desk are my Star Wars figures. Kylo Ren and Darth Vader as my personal reminder to hold on to the evil process manager within me. (laughs) — Use the force, Samir ;)

7. What do you like about working at ABOUT YOU?

I’ve always been a fashion victim. I like fashion and I like to buy fashion even more, and therefore to work at About You didn’t require a much greater argument. But what I particularly like about the work is that About You does not hesitate in trying out new things and thinking in different ways, especially in terms of its product, processes, and market approach.

The motto is simple: New ideas appear, can be quickly realized, tested, and optimized.

The working method is characterized by quick and efficient decision-making with a process oriented approach. Thus, working at About You, one can expect each month to be different from the last. As a company, we see ourselves as one big family. Everywhere you go, you meet open-minded people. It doesn’t matter if you are a working student or lead. We all have the same goal — Make About You the number one fashion e-commerce player!

8. Your favorite spot at our office?

The completely new area on the first floor is, in my opinion, a great one! All this additional space is furnished, functional, as well as cozy. You can sit on the sofa and enjoy the view of our terrace through the large windows. Usually, I organize my spontaneous one-to-one meetings there, because it’s such a well conceived and casual workspace!

9. Your favorite lunch spot?

The Le Quan at Große Reichenstraße is my all time favorite lunch spot. There, you can have the best chicken in coconut milk (#44)! As a general rule, it is a must have at least once a week — if not, the week is bound to end in disaster.

Samir talks strategy with a member of the Operations Team