Interview with Preeth Pandalay – Only trainer in India certified to teach Professional Agile Leadership
Preeth Pandalay is an agile and leadership coach from India who works with organizations in India and many south-east Asian countries. His approach is to kindle new thinking, insights and help individuals and organizations create a structure and process, which critically reflects and evaluates ‘What-ifs” to create an environment of continuous learning and continuous improvement.
Let me start by congratulating you on becoming the first and the only trainer in India certified to teach Professional Agile Leadership. I always like to start these interviews by asking people for their origin story. So, could you tell us a little bit about where you grew up, and how you first became interested in agile?
I was born and brought up in Kerala, a rather small state in Southern India. I did my schooling & college there and then like all job aspirants moved to Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India. Having experienced various aspects of Software Development, like coding, testing, release engineering, pre-sales, training and having held various management-level positions, my career has been a thrilling roller coaster experience. The journey so far has been enriching. Working with various people from different functions and various parts of the world has helped develop empathy and a sense of curiosity in me which has provided a vantage stance in my current line of work.
I was introduced to an agile way of working back in 2002 when I was working in a team that was heavily influenced by Extreme Programming. We were a highly productive team, an empowered bunch, that trusted each other and had each other’s back. This team remains my dream team till date and this is how I became interested in agile.
What exactly do you do? I mean, what is Agile and who is an agile coach?
Agile to me is a value system, a decision-making framework built on 4 values and 12 principles which when inculcated helps organizations make the right decisions to thrive in today’s world that’s described as VUCA, short for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous.
Similar to theories of evolution, it’s not the biggest or the fastest organizations that can survive but the ones that are capable of adapting to changes. Agility is that requisite capability in organizations to continuously evolve and be relevant.
An agile coach is that person(s) who can help organizations leverage the frequent and fast-paced change for it’s competitive advantage by incorporating the agile values and principles into the very culture of that organization.
Where do you see things going in the next 3 -5 years? What are your plans?
While agility is no doubt the need of the hour, it is rather unfortunate that many a transformation even today are focussed only on the process and completely ignores the crucial and mandatory people focus. Though this results in some improvement, it is not a sustainable one. The current trend of managing & controlling people in the complex work domain has to change, there is a need to rethink agile and reinvent leadership.
My plans are to continue working with the leadership teams to create a top-down intent & alignment and work with the development teams for the bottom-up execution to create sustainable agility.
You must be excited about being the first Professional Agile Leadership trainer in India. How will this help you?
Yes, it definitely is exciting to be the first trainer from India to be licensed by scrum.org to teach their Leadership course.
My experiences as Senior leader in organizations during their transformation and the mentoring by leaders of international repute in the agile space has led to Scrum.org recognizing my learnings, experiences, expertise and capability to train leadership. This coupled with credentials from International Consortium of Agile in coaching both at the team and enterprise level, definitely helps build credibility faster with clients. It also re-instils in me a sense of vigour and a sense of responsibility towards individuals and organizations undergoing their transformation.