Robbie James joined CGI 18 years ago and couldn’t have imagined back then just how interesting and exciting his career journey with the company would be. Over the years he’s gone from technical newbie to Agile Engineering Manager – In this article he explains more about his role, as well as how Agile works at CGI.
I’ve been with CGI for over 18 years now and my very fancy title these days is Agile Engineering Manager. Over the years, I’ve grown from a newbie in a technical team, to a service leader across a small development group, and then, after some Scrum Mastering, have ended up running an Agile DevOps team.
I wouldn’t consider myself an expert as I am constantly looking to improve, but it’s been an incredibly interesting journey. Becoming an Agile Engineer and a Scrum Master for a fully functioning, example-setting DevOps team is something I am particularly pleased about and it gives me great pride to look back on all the progress I, and the company, have made since the day I walked in here for the first time.
CGI and Agile
We now have an Agile network, where I am able to ask for help and also provide support and assistance to others as and when I can. CGI has trained and developed me and given me the time and resources I needed to learn and grow, so I’m now able to assume a leadership role within my team. I'm a technically-focused “hybrid” leader responsible for both developing capabilities and leading a DevOps team across a client service.
I have a strong technical and delivery background covering all aspects of the development, testing and release lifecycle. I also take a lead role in the planning and delivery of projects ensuring that value is delivered across the service while maintaining quality and ensuring the overall service success.
Ultimately, with an Agile approach, ownership rests with the agile engineering teams. I’m really here to ensure the relevant methodology/framework is applied and that business value is delivered.
CGI’s approach is very much focused on delivering quality products and making customers happy, so that’s what I concentrate on and it’s always a refreshing place to start. Scrum and Kanban are the main Agile frameworks and I have been involved in using both in different ways as well as a hybrid version of the two.
Culture trumps all
CGI fosters an environment of innovation and sharing, which, in combination with the emphasis on partnership and quality, allows our DevOps team the freedom to run the services in the best way for us and the client. This is empowering for everyone on the team: it means everyone can maintain an approach that works for them while still following the best practices CGI encourages.
With Agile, it’s easy to handle changes in the scope of work. We discuss with the client the feasibility and the time frame for a new change. We are also given the freedom to make changes to any of our processes at any time. Everyone in the team is able to suggest improvements and these can be implemented without having to get agreement from senior management or people not actually involved in the services.
For CGI, culture is more important than anything else, including the leaders. We have full transparency with our clients and the nature of Agile has made it easy to not only know ‘why’, but also ‘how’ to go about it with a sense of ownership and a common goal.
I’m proud of both my work and my company
One of my very first experiences using Agile was a few years ago when we moved a client’s infrastructure from an old on-premise environment to the cloud, using Platform as a Service. It was a really enjoyable project to be a part of and despite some challenges, it was a thrilling ride. I had great team members and I learned a lot. The project was very successful and it was commended on several occasions, so it was very rewarding overall to be involved.
Work aside though, I’m really proud to be part of CGI in general. CGI has an important mantra of corporate social responsibility and we are always encouraged to think about it. I have turned it into one of my objectives for the upcoming year and put myself forward for some pro bono work.
I have also been engaging with a charity about ways we can help them with technical projects they otherwise couldn’t afford, facilitating mindfulness coaching sessions for the local community, and taking a small role in CGI’s Men’s Health Network. They are all small ways to help, but I love that it’s just part of life at CGI to be involved in that sort of thing.