“At UBank, they really care about their people. Our feedback matters.” — Valerie Sandford, Scrum Master

Valerie Sandford is used to change. Originally from France, she’s a frequent traveller and has worked in London, Paris, the U.S. and now Australia.

But constant, ongoing change is also part of Valerie’s job at UBank. She’s a Melbourne-based scrum master for our API* teams, working across teams and functions for various projects. So, what does that entail, exactly?

“My role is really to make sure that a team follows the scrum process, which is an iterative way of working,” explains Valerie. “As part of an agile methodology, we work in two-week cycles or ‘sprints.’ One of the main objectives of scrum is to improve all the time.”

Each two-week cycle involves a retrospective meeting to check what went well (and what didn’t) from both a technology and a people perspective, with Valerie coaching her fellow teammates to ensure they are working effectively and making sure the work is truly useful.

Noting that UBank’s laser-like focus on customer feedback is unique, she says scrum is important for making sure teams can rapidly adapt and react to customer needs or a changing market.

It’s a way of working that’s helped Valerie and her teams deliver crucial projects at UBank. The one that made her proudest – “stupid-happy,” in fact – was the Fast Payments initiative announced at the start of June.

That sort of customer-focused delivery is at the heart of UBank’s culture and values, says Valerie. But she notes the empathy and responsiveness extend to how employees treat each other, too.

“At UBank, they really care about their people – our work-life balance, our mental health,” she says. “And our feedback matters. We can suggest things at any level and it’s taken into consideration. It’s similar to how the organisation is constantly responding to customer feedback.”

Working from home has created a distance, but as a small team in Melbourne, Valerie says everyone has stayed positive and connected through a few extra meetings, some small COVID-safe gatherings and the occasional funny hat during video calls. Still, she’s looking forward to seeing her teammates a little more often in the future – almost as much as she’s looking forward to finally going on her delayed honeymoon, a road trip from Melbourne to Brisbane (we’re jealous).

Regardless of whether she’s at home or in the office, one thing is sure – Valerie will be driving teams to adapt and improve, with a tireless focus on others’ needs and a sunny certainty that things can always be done better.

A few fun facts about Valerie:

  1. Valerie moved to Australia two years ago with her boyfriend-now-husband. Before Australia, she had travelled to more than 25 countries.
  2. Lately she’s been bingeing YouTube yoga videos and cult classic “Community” on Netflix.
  3. During isolation, she’s passed the time by cooking, and checking in on family and friends.
  4. She was born in France before moving to Réunion Island off the coast of South Africa (Google it, it looks amazing) and then back to Paris to study engineering when she turned 18 years old.

*API is the acronym for Application Programming Interface - a software intermediary that allows two apps to talk to each other.