Join us each month for a series highlighting the unique career journey of employees.
This month, we talk to Agile Coach and Scrum Master Dave Sebek.
1. When did you start with Centric? Tell me about your career path
My first official day at Centric was April 11, 2005. My actual first day was the Friday before our company’s spring meeting in Wilmington, Ohio.
Prior to starting at Centric, I was developing and supporting add-on software for a small company in Columbus, Ohio that served as Value Added Resellers for the Medinformatix Electronic Medical Records system.
2. How did you end up in consulting?
My first job out of college was actually in consulting. “Body-shopping” would probably be a better name for it. I worked for ICC (Information Control Corporation), which staffed me as a VB3 programmer at Metatec Inc. in Dublin, Ohio.
Back in 1994, Metatec was in the business of publishing software to CDs – which was not an insignificant technical challenge in those days. In order to get a single CD cut we had to load all of our code and supporting files onto an external hard drive, get a signature from a manager and then take the drive down to engineering where – depending on the queue in front of you – you would have a single CD burned in around an hour.
3. If you had to pinpoint a definitive moment in your career, what would that be?
There have been so many. I will point to two – relatively – recent moments. The first was my assignment at an insurer, where I was working on a modernization project for their commercial lines insurance portal while simultaneously undergoing an agile transformation. This was my first exposure to agile and showed me a new way of building software (in this case).
My time at the insurer was empowering in that I felt that I had full control of what and how things were being built and was able to guide my experiences to suit me and my teams’ personalities and needs.
My second experience also occurred at this client and was the visit of Jeff Langr, an agile consultant and coach. Jeff’s time at the client crystalized for me what I was becoming passionate about with agile and showed me that I could make a career that married my technical skills and my desire to coach and lead others through their agile transformations.
4. How does your current role fit into your career path/goals?
I switched this year from architect to manager to reflect my change in career path. This year also saw my time at this client come to end, after 6-plus years.
That change has allowed me to work with several clients this year from as a Scrum Master and an analyst at a bank, where I am currently providing training as they progress down the path of their Agile Transformation.
5. What are some unique, funny or interesting stories you can share about your career journey?
I never pass up an opportunity to tell a story. Some that I can share:
- Accidentally sending my boss/salesman to a meeting with a nun (among others) at a Catholic high school in Toledo for a demo with a database of inappropriate test data. I was told that several people in the room had their vocabulary expanded that day. Fortunately, my boss saw the humor in it – but I learned an important lesson.
- Turning the code for my first career release over to my supervisor for his review, believing that it was “beyond perfect” only to have him hand me back a list of at least 25 items that needed to be fixed by 9 a.m. the next morning. If only I knew about TDD back then.
- Erasing, without the direct possibility of recovery, three million or so rows of live medical claim data when I thought I was working in a test environment but was actually in production. I became very familiar with Oracle support that night but had everything recovered from backups before nightly processing.
- Centric is the third company that I have worked with Shawn Wallace at. The other two are no longer in business.
6. What motivates your career and drives you to keep going?
Three kids that will be in college until I am 63 is what drives me to keep going. Seriously, I think that not believing that I am an expert in anything keeps me going, I am always looking to learn and try my hand at something new.
This attitude led me after 20-plus years in IT to change my career path from a technical track as an architect and developer to my current role as an agile coach and scrum master – a transformation I detailed in an earlier question.
7. What is your job like at Centric? Describe what your typical day looks like.
Like a lot of us, my day starts off with a family focus. My wife Shannon is a nurse and typically is out of the house by 6:30 am, two-to-three times per week. On those days, it is my job to get everyone on the bus and off to school.
We have a child at every level this year: the high schooler leaves about 6:40 a.m., the middle schooler about 7:30 a.m., and the kindergartner around 8:20 a.m. Depending on what’s on my calendar, I either work remotely from home or head down to the Columbus Dev Studio where there is always something to do or some mischief to cause.
About every third week, I am in Tulsa working with my client – typically flying out on Monday night and flying back on Thursday evening.
8. What did your recruiting process look like? Did you find Centric, or did we find you?
Since I started back in 2005 – my recruiting process looked a little different than what goes on today. Andrew Eastwood “recruited” me. He and I had known each other and worked together several times in the past. Andrew served as my technical interview.
My cultural interview was with Larry English – he and I met for lunch and talked about everything under the sun. I was struck by how genuine Larry was and how interested he was in doing the right thing not only by Centric but also by me.
My last interview was with Jason Pohl to talk expectations, roles and financials. Once those details were finalized, I signed on.
9. What mix of skills, personality, and values do you find most important for a consulting role like yours?
When I first got into consulting – right out of college – I was nervous because I thought that as the consultant I was supposed to be the expert on everything the second I stepped in the door. I certainly was not and am not that person.
What I have found in my career is that having a wide range of skills has served me greatly, I view myself as sort of a swiss army knife that can be used to get just about any job done and done well.
I’ve found also that it takes wisdom to know what I don’t know. I have to use honesty to communicate that to my clients and peers and confidence to ask questions to find out the answers where ever I am dropped in. This has enabled me to be successful and quickly build positive relationships with clients.
10. What tips would you share with future Centric recruits?
Centric is an amazing place to work and grow. Find something that you love to do and are passionate about and pursue it – I’m sure you will find more than a few people who will be very interested in helping you along the way.
11. Given that Centric values work-life balance, please share some of your hobbies or special interests outside of work.
I have been happily married to my college sweetheart Shannon since 1997. We were married the night that Mike Tyson took a bite out of Evander Holyfield’s ear! We are the proud parents of three girls: Hannah, 16; Sydney, 12; and Alexandra, 5.
Living with four women was never really something I thought about or planned growing up but I am proud to say that I can tolerate pink, can do ponytails and can “sorta-kinda” braid hair. I am also an expert on Doc McStuffins, My Little Pony and American Girl Dolls.
In addition to the full-time job of raising three daughters, from the time I started until the spring of 2015, I like to think that I had two full-time jobs – Centric consultant by day and soccer coach by night. I served as the head boys soccer coach at Olentangy High School in Lewis Center, Ohio from spring 2003 to spring 2012.
Running a high school soccer program – including travel – was approximately a 30-hour a week job. In addition to that position, I also coached my two older daughters club soccer teams during spring and fall from fall of 2009 to spring of 2015. These jobs added another 15 hours a week to my schedule during those seasons.
Through it all Centric allowed me to pursue my passion by working with me and trusting in me to continually provide unmatched customer experiences.