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Certifications at Nortal

by Nortal cloud team , March 15, 2021

With new tools and technologies being released everyday, Nortal provides employees with the opportunity to stay up-to-date with certifications, where they can learn new skills relevant to continuing their education and project work. Continue reading to gain insight from Leigh Wunderlin, HR Business Partner, Shawn McCoy, Senior Delivery Director, and Kess Atuyota, Senior Technical Project Manager, on the certification programs at Nortal and why it’s important to our people. 

Our Technical Project Management (TPM) program has grown considerably this year. Can you tell us a little bit about the TPM program? 

Our goal with the TPM program is to establish a healthy community within the company for TPM’s to share different principles and practices around project management. As the company starts growing, that collaboration becomes really important because the sharing of experiences and deliverables can help elevate the tribal knowledge of an organization. The program includes goals of knowledge sharing, community, and a sense of belonging that go hand-in-hand with a project management community.

At Nortal, the sum of the team is greater than the individual members. We are leveraging the best resources we have, talented human beings, and infusing teams with best practices. The customer environments may be different but if we understand the root of the problem and what we should look out for, then we can deploy tools and technologies for the best approach to get the desired results.

Since Nortal’s TPM program has grown to have over 20 people who are now part of our delivery management team, it has been an incredibly important program to develop as we mature as a company. The TPM role has created a lot of value and velocity in what we can deliver to our customers.

Nortal’s certification programs allow employees to continue their education. Can you give us insight into the certification program as a whole and how the Professional Scrum Master certification came to be included? 

The cloud certification program allows software developers to continue their education and learn specific tools and technologies to further their professional development. Developers are given an education software platform, providing a structured program around what certification they are looking to achieve. It’s all provided for by Nortal and it is something they can work on as they have the time. Craftsmanship is important to our company values and having certified developers demonstrates our expertise in modern software delivery. Additionally, as an industry ‘stamp of approval’, it displays our competency to clients and partners, gaining their confidence in our work with cloud workloads.

The Project Management certification program was created out of an expectation that our TPM’s are equipped with understanding agile processes, as well as being competent in Scrum and Kanban. We are looking to elevate our TPM’s knowledge in an area that some clients are looking to be more strategic in. For example, some TPM’s are getting certifications in Safe processes so they can be productive in those types of environments.

Overall, it’s really important to provide opportunities for all Nortal employees to grow. Having a certification program for our TPM’s, equivalent to cloud certifications for our software developers, is crucial to round out our talent in continuing education offerings.

The following interview is with Kess Atuyota, Senior Technical Project Manager, about his experience with the cloud and TPM certification programs. 

What inspired you to achieve your Professional Scrum Master 1, SAFE Scrum Master, and AWS Certified Solutions Architect certification?

“I always try to set professional goals for myself to continue moving forward. Once you stretch yourself, new knowledge and a positive attitude are what help you move forward. I have been managing technology projects for decades and it’s imperative that you understand the technologies. For the AWS certification, it is really important to understand customer challenges and since AWS provides a huge landscape of tools and technologies, I wanted more knowledge there. Understanding AWS provides a huge knowledge depth of technologies and since cloud is here to stay, anyone who doesn’t have the AWS certification is doing themselves a disservice. I wanted to stretch myself to be more in tune with what the team is doing and since most of the developers on my team have this technical understanding, one of the benefits of the AWS certification is communicating more effectively with the team and customers.

I was motivated to achieve the PSM certification to get an understanding of Scrum processes for the customer. Getting the certification validated my goals for the year and what knowledge I need to gain in the TPM realm. This helped give me a frame of mind in regards to creating an open and honest team culture that allows for constructive feedback.

Overall, I don’t do certifications just for certification sake. All three of these certifications have given me skills that I implement in my day-to-day projects.”

How did you prepare for these exams?

“Reading blogs online and utilizing our education software tools were fantastic ways to prepare. I also used Whizlabs for both the PSM and AWS exams because they give you the most difficult set of questions that could potentially be on your test. If you can pass the exams there, then you can pass the real tests.

The key element is to have a plan. Having an understanding of the knowledge you need to know is especially key for the AWS exam. You truly have to understand the concepts, it’s not something you can just cram for.”

How have these certifications helped you grow in your career?

“The PSM certification has reinforced some of the work values that I have including respect, commitment, focus, courage, and openness. It has helped me communicate these values to the team and to create a team culture of not being afraid to be wrong. At one point in time we are all wrong, so it’s about applying the values above to projects.

With the AWS certification, I’ve had substantial experiences with the team to leverage the content. I’ve been able to identify project challenges and then discuss intelligently with the team to find a solution. This certification has helped me become a true consultant to the customer because it’s crafted in a way where you can use the tools and technologies to build solutions. From this, you can coordinate with the team to help clients find the best possible outcomes.“

In what ways has the certification been applicable to you in your day to day projects?

“In addition to aiding in brainstorming sessions as I mentioned above, employing skills that we wouldn’t have thought about has been helpful. For example, in project retrospectives and standups, providing tools and techniques for employees to understand themselves better has helped our team engage with each other in a more productive way.”

Providing employees with avenues to continue their education and grow professionally is imperative in this competitive talent market. Nortal’s certification programs allow our employees opportunities to continue working on their craft. To learn more about life at Nortal, visit our career page.

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