by rebecka


by rebecka


Meet Åsa Stark, our Agile Coach whose dedication and passion for agile work inspire both colleagues and clients alike. Åsa’s contributions to creating a stronger, more cohesive work culture are invaluable. This employee portrait delves into Åsa’s development journey, her current role, and her experiences of thriving and growing in Softhouse’s dynamic environment.

A Journey Towards Agility

Åsa’s professional journey reflects continuous development and adaptation. From her early years at Aspiro and Q-Labs to advanced roles at Sony Ericsson, Åsa has always sought ways to improve work processes and team dynamics. It wasn’t until she joined us at Softhouse in 2012 that she truly had the opportunity to pursue her dream of becoming a Scrum Master and later an Agile Coach. Åsa shares:

– I started working in 2000 at Aspiro and soon switched to Q-Labs after Aspiro laid off a third of its staff. At Q-Labs, I worked on implementing processes at Ericsson. After that, I joined Sony Ericsson and integrated software systems with several hundred developers. I’ve had numerous team lead and project manager roles at Sony Ericsson and later with the operator 3.

Åsa continues:

– Before joining Softhouse, I had tried being a scrum master in a project. I had wanted to try working agilely, having read about XP and attended XP days, but hadn’t had the chance where I was. I wanted to work in a more sustainable and enduring way since I had experienced high stress levels in my previous jobs, and I thought that agile could help with this by ensuring that one does not take on more than one can handle and that decisions are made at the right level.

We took the opportunity to ask Åsa what it’s like to work as a consultant and what she considers a unique selling proposition (USP).

– Working as a consultant might not be for everyone, but I enjoy it. You get to try working in multiple different workplaces. When you work with culture and improvements, it can be beneficial not to stay too long in the same place. Sometimes you might feel done with a team because they no longer need much support, and you often make the biggest impact at the beginning. But complex problems may require more time to address, and you often find these higher up in the organization, which becomes a natural path to follow once you’re done with a team.

In the Role of Agile Coach

As an Agile Coach, Åsa supports teams and programs in their efforts to become more agile. She contributes her expertise in mindset, culture, and work processes to create an effective and cohesive work environment.

– I support both teams and programs to work more agilely. I assist with mindset and culture in software organizations on their journey to become more agile. This involves helping them create and communicate good goals and visions to guide the development teams, as well as clearer work methods, visualizing the current state to facilitate decision-making, facilitating and coaching at workshops and meetings, trying to create insights into how we work together in a good way and the advantages of agile working methods, explains Åsa, continuing:

– This also means that I work with different roles in the organization such as development teams with developers, UX, architects, test and product owners, but also program managers, solution architects, integration and system testers, other agile coaches, and sometimes customers.

Currently, Åsa works as a Scrum Master on Neuron; an internal system that receives incoming leads from consulting brokers and matches them with consultants’ CVs to find assignments for our consultants.

– Right now, I’m working on supporting the team with how to work and run agile ceremonies. I’ve also interviewed the salespeople to understand how easy/difficult it is to use the system, which has made it clear that a redesign of the system is needed, Åsa shares.

A unique passion driving success

Åsa’s work is driven by a passion for making the workday more fun and meaningful for everyone. She strives to help individuals and teams reach their full potential by providing support and clear, engaging goals.

– I’m passionate about people and helping individuals and teams make their daily work more enjoyable. A fully functioning team has fun together and appreciates each other while being open and honest with each other, and strives to improve both the product and how we work together, says Åsa.

The most enjoyable aspect for Åsa is working agilely and feeling that her work helps get closer to customers and understand their needs, making it clearer what the need is for what we do.

– The most enjoyable part is seeing the joy in those who work. It’s fun when you feel you can make a big difference and clarify why you do what you do. Of course, it’s also fun when you work with nice colleagues who help each other and have fun together.

However, Åsa’s work and role are not just a bed of roses. There are many challenges that she, as an Agile Coach, has to face. Åsa shares:

– Sometimes you encounter people who don’t want to listen and change and want to do things their way, often due to various kinds of fears. Some people are not team players and don’t fit in working in a team, and others are in the wrong role. Sometimes changing the problem works, but not always, and I don’t have the authority to move people who have difficulties cooperating with others around them; I can only point out the problem to those who make the decisions.”

She continues:

– There are also organizations that struggle with certain types of changes more than others. This can also be challenging. Often, you hit a ceiling somewhere higher up in the organization where it’s difficult to work with agile methods and mindset. Something very common is when you have a budgeting process that isn’t agile, where you’re expected to provide many details for what will be developed in the coming year, but this doesn’t align with agile development.

Openness, support, and collaboration

For Åsa, Softhouse’s corporate culture represents an environment of openness, support, and collaboration. She particularly values the low hierarchy, freedom with responsibility, and the supportive leadership that enables everyone to grow and develop.

– It’s a low hierarchy here, and we help each other. There’s a supportive leadership here, which makes Softhouse a special place to work, reflects Åsa.

When asked which of our four value words is Åsa’s favorite, she responds:

– Team – I believe in the power of a team to accomplish things better than an individual. 1+1=3, meaning that you do better things together than you would have done individually, and it’s more fun to work together. But it requires that you dare to show your weaknesses to others in order to develop.

Asked if Åsa has a favorite tool or framework, she replied:

– I don’t have a favorite framework, but I often take inspiration from the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team model to build well-functioning teams. The same goes for Susan Wheelan’s ‘Creating Effective Teams.’ On different assignments, they might want to use SAFe or OKRs or some other framework, and then I adapt to those conditions and combine their ideas with mine.

From agile to stocks

Åsa’s interests outside of work are many and varied, from outdoor activities to family games. Her latest hobby, the stock market, is both a challenge and a pleasure.

– I’m more active during spring, summer, and autumn when I like to be outdoors, walk, take care of the garden at the cottage, but also indoor activities tend to increase during the warmer months. However, I play board games with the family and craft both with the kids and on my own all year round.

When we asked Åsa if she had any secret talents, we got an unexpected answer.

– I don’t know if I would call it a talent, but I’ve started with stocks less than a year ago. I felt it was time to learn how it works, so now I read Dagens Industri and Privata Affärer every day since June/July last year. I have a lot to learn, but I’ve started to understand a bit about how the market works. It’s fun to learn something new, Åsa tells.

Do you want to be part of our team? We are constantly looking for new colleagues. Have what it takes? Do our consultancy quiz or take a look at our vacancies and read more.

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