Sharlene McKinnon

Moving Big Rocks to Accelerate IT

About Me

Geek. Multiplier. Leader & Mentor. Digital Humanities. I work at the intersection between humans + technology.

Vertical Photo of Agile Bootcamp

I’m a well-seasoned executer with a collaborative spirit, a large leadership tool kit, a healthy dose of pragmatism, and a pinch of sparkle. I’m a firm believer in creating important, exceptional moments on people’s journey to execute innovative ideas. I cut through the noise to find human potential and am able to unlock an environment to lead people to exceed this potential.

I’ve spent two decades working with people in IT environments and am cognoscente of how gaps in the human-based aspects of software development are frequently the most significant barrier to creating sustainable, high-performing, harmonious teams.

I have vast consulting experience (Thoughtworks) and a deep understanding of all stages of the software development lifecycle from leadership to implementation. Tactically, I am able to quickly identify issues and find solutions that sustainably unblock businesses and teams. I guide people towards autonomy in a fail fast / learn fast environment so they can be smart and meaningful about choices.

My Secret Sauce for Success

  1. Hire for potential
  2. Establish valuable direction & goals
  3. Build cultural and structural "safety nets" so people can exceed their potential
  4. Unlock teams so they can figure out "how" to implement goals

What I've Written

I write about leadership, innovation, startups, tech, and culture. Below are my top posts on Medium.

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Where I've Shared Brainpower (Highlights Only)

Element AI logo

Element AI - Montréal, QC

Head Corporate Agility, Research Program Manager

Defined and implemented Modern Agility best practices in a constantly evolving, in flux startup. Coached and mentored people in Modern Agile principles and practices at all levels as the company grew from a startup of less than 100-people to a global organization of 500-people in 1-year! Created and implemented team maturity metrics for the evaluation of teams on this journey.

Defined, set-up and maintained innovation lifecycle for the company’s Applied Research Lab; grew the Lab from 1-person to 30-people with a focus on building innovation in Retail, Robotics, and AI (Vision, NLP, Timeseries).

ThoughtWorks logo

ThoughtWorks - Global

Lead Consultant

In the decade that I worked with this company, I had the opportunity to share brainpower with amazing, intelligent, wonderful, and capable people!

At ThoughtWorks, I gained experience on large and small software projects, learned a variety of development methodologies (there’s more than just Agile), learned the “secrets” behind building harmonious teams, excelled in facilitation, portfolio management, effective personal coaching, and obtained experience in transformational change. Examples of all these things are peppered throughout the highlighted companies below.

West Corporation logo

West Corporation – Various US Cities

Program Lead, Corporate Transformation

Paired with West Corporation’s leadership to co-design a strategic transformation from a holding company model to an operating company model. Designed and led the workshops needed to evolve the company towards a Lean portfolio structure; built an evolving multi-year strategy with playbooks designed to help a newly formed transformation team reach their desired future state.

Travelled to various cities to coach teams during the transition. In 2018, West Corporation announced a rebranding to reflect the continuing evolution of the company. Their new company name is Intrado.

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Ticketmaster Entertainment, Inc. – Hollywood, CA

Program Lead, Lean Enterprise Transformation

Collaborated with a large ThoughtWorks transformation team to co-design a Lean transformation strategy for Ticketmaster. The foundation of this transformation came from best practices found in the book Lean Enterprise and findings contributed to the book EDGE — Value-Driven Digital Transformation.

Worked with engaged stakeholders to co-define corporate culture strategy, governance, and desired end-state culture. Worked with a bright and motivated internal Agile coaching team to implement the desired state and improve overall end-to-end development business and development processes for the company.

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Google – Mountain View, CA

TPM, Platform Development

Worked with an incredible team to build a *top secret* Angular and Dart Platform. We invented a new way to test Dart using Protractor and designed a scalable user experience in partnership with platform consumers. We introduced collaborative "Agile" testing and communication best practices to decrease the number of bugs found in production and increase the speed in which code found its way into the hands of end-users.

Google saw a $30-million dollar quarterly increase in revenue during the second phase of this initiative when media and analysts predicted quarterly losses.

Vision Critical logo

Vision Critical – Vancouver, BC

Product Designer, Community Portal Management

Vision Critical provides a cloud-based customer intelligence platform that allows companies to build engaged, secure communities of customers. Located in Vancouver, this project gave me the opportunity to work with a modern, service design team. I paired with VC’s lead designers to reshape the product design component of the software development life-cycle.

With this high performing group, we established the best practices needed to facilitate user-driven design principles (e.g. incremental product design through the investigation of “opportunities” and use of low-fi product testing with internal and external clients). This resulted in faster feedback loops and the rapid deployment of high-value features to the market.

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Unicef – New York City, NY

Project Lead, Rapid Family Tracing and Reunification App

Collaborated with innovator Jorge Just and Unicef to define, design, and plan RapidFTR (Rapid Family Tracing and Reunification), an open-source mobile application that helps humanitarian workers quickly collect vital information from children who have been separated from caregivers during disasters, and to share this information securely with people who can reunite them with their families. Before RapidFTR, humanitarian action workers relied on paper forms that were often damaged, lost, or forgotten during a crisis.

The app was first deployed and tested in a Congolese transit refugee camp in Uganda in 2012. Next, it was deployed in the Philippines after Typhoon Yolanda. Recently, RapidFTR was used to reunite 6,000 children with their families after years of separation in South Sudan.

Warner Bros logo

Warner Bros. Studios – Burbank, CA

Project Lead, Publicity International Translation Portal

Worked with teams from Australia, China, and California to successfully deliver a POC of a platform used by global PR managers to translate movie promotion materials for distribution in various countries.

After delivering the POC, we successfully delivered follow-on work with a team of 25 developers and QA's distributed between Beijing and Burbank. Continued to coach the customer PM, PO and release managers on Agile best practices. We worked together to define foundational product requirements and subsequently shepherded three successful releases to production.

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General Electric – Global

Project Manager, Various Divisions

Worked as a Delivery Principal with a ThoughtWorks team tasked with “helping” a 40-person, struggling project that had team members scattered over seven countries and eleven time zones. Rapidly deployed the best practices needed to identify issues with fluctuating scope, gaps in product analysis, and barriers to effective communication. Facilitated scope management sessions in partnership with the customer and worked with GE analysts to co-design product best practices.

In a short period of time, we were able to work together to transform a previously stagnant team to one that delivered three quality engineering software releases in a nine-month period.

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ThoughtWorks University – Bangalore, India

Lead Trainer

Joined a team of seven amazing Agile instructors hand-picked to teach ThoughtWorks peers from China and India in fundamental Agile practices, project management and business analysis techniques, and various consulting tactics.

Worked with this team to modernize the curriculum and improve classroom sessions, individual evaluations, and personal growth opportunities for students. Coached and mentored curious individuals at the beginning of their consulting journey.

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Shaw Communications – Calgary, AB

Project Manager, Agile Enablement, Tech Transformation

Part of a team of several Agile coaches placed on a 5-year, 200-person Agile enablement and Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) delivery project.

With other coaches, I worked to address multiple cross-team communication challenges by facilitating workshops that focused on cross-team iteration coordination. By doing this, we were able to build and continually evolve company-wide iteration, milestone, release, and delivery plans. This helped break down communication silos and sped up the flow of work.

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Solium Capital – Calgary, AB

Special Projects and Implementation Manager

Solium Capital Inc. is a leading global provider of web-based stock plan administration technology and services. Founded in 1999, Solium Capital was recently acquired by Morgan Stanley for approximately CAD$1.1 billion.

I joined the company as a data implementation specialist and did process-heavy financial data manipulation using Excel, Open Office, Java CSV import scripts. To make this tedious work easier for others and to improve the company, I worked with the team to conceptualize and create a task management system that was used to track ongoing projects and issues associated with each financial process.

Lexicom logo Internet Services – Calgary, AB

Project Manager, Designer, Developer is a "full meal deal" Internet hosting, website design, application development, and website management company. Lexicom is the setting of my "design and development origin story." It was here that I evolved skills in web development, design, multimedia, dynamic programming, and database design.

Later, I was able to create, maintain and motivate dynamic development teams who worked with clients in the US, UK, India, and Canada. Work was with organizations in the non-profit and not-for-profit sectors, political and public policy organizations, and many corporate clients.

Reach Out!

I'm Canadian-born but travel the globe in search of inspiration and great coffee.

Sharlene McKinnon

I believe in finding ways to help others be awesome. Feel free to reach out to to start a conversation! Or DM me at any of the social sites below!

© 2020 Sharlene McKinnon, All Rights Reserved