Sixer Spotlight with Kunle Oyesola
Have you ever wondered what a successful workplace looks like? Kunle Oyesola, a Delivery Manager at Agile Six, shares his personal experience on the power that culture, trust, and collaboration have in creating a positive and productive work environment. We’ll discover the crucial role that openness, trust, and a "people first" approach play in fostering success and why these principles are so important. Learn about Kunle's journey to Agile Six and how embracing the open culture has helped him grow personally and professionally.
Q. Who is Kunle Oyesola?
A. I'm a Nigerian American, and I've grown up all over this country. I am an Agile Delivery Manager here at Agile Six. I'm a son, brother, and friend. I am a consummate grillmaster. I'm a huge Arsenal and Ravens fan. I'm somebody who's just trying to do what I need to do to help wherever I can in my little corner of the world. I think that's just the best way to sum it up.
Q. What do you do at Agile Six?
A. As the Delivery Manager/Scrum Master, my job is to help the team to accomplish their goals and to support the product owner and our team. My job is to make sure that we don't have any impediments and that we are able to work effectively. I help conduct our Agile ceremonies and, in general, help in any way that I can.
I'm very fortunate to work with the HCD team, the human-centered design team for the QPP program at CMS. At the core of almost everything that we do with technology, human-centered design helps us to design in a way that's inclusive for everybody and allows design decisions to be informed based on research.
I've learned some really great things from the folks I work with about the purpose of HCD and how it's helping, especially in the government space. There are so many wonderful things this HCD team is doing with the QPP program. I think there are going to be more opportunities in the CMS program, or with CMS in general, because of the great folks that we have here. They've done such good work that their work speaks for them, but they are also really good evangelists that share the benefits of what we're doing.
Q. What brought you to Agile Six, and what piqued your interest in this company?
A. Reading the description of how the company likes to work online really piqued my interest, especially when I read they did a virtual PI Planning online. I'm not sure if you're familiar with PI Planning, but it's a big event that has many different teams; usually, it's supposed to be in one room, and it's an opportunity to plan out many sprints in the future and plan out all your work. You’re supposed to go from room to room and be able to collaborate where everybody can look at what each team is doing, and you can find out any dependencies or risks. This is an event that is optimal for being in person, but reading about how Agile Six was able to conduct that event virtually and do it very successfully was very impressive to me.
The interview process also made me want to be part of this company because when I first interviewed, I didn't actually get the job. I was so impressed by the interview that I kept following up because I knew I liked this place and wanted to find out more. It was a great process, and that’s where I met Dotti, and then the final interview was with Robert, the CEO of the company. That really stood out to me because the person who's heading the company meets everybody and has a deep conversation. Robert said something that really stuck out to me, “you know Kunle, I know that people go to jobs and they leave, and that's just life and it happens. But I want this to possibly be one of the last places you work. I want you to feel comfortable enough to be here.” In everything that I've experienced so far, that's been true. It wasn't just lip service, and the way the company moves and the way the culture of the company is, that's something that really stands out to me, and it’s probably my favorite thing about Agile Six.
Q. How do you achieve work-life balance, working in a fully remote organization?
A. For me, I had to learn to compartmentalize my work time from my home time and try to structure my time because the personal and the work can easily blend into each other. I'm very fortunate and privileged to live in a home where I can have a workspace, and the great thing about that is you have that flexibility. If I need to do something for my partner, if she's not home, I can do that. As a physician, she can't have that same opportunity. She has to commute to her job. It has been great for my family life, because it takes some things off her plate. It's given me great balance, and I'm very grateful. I do not take it for granted at all.
Q. How do you flourish in a self-managed environment?
A. Initially, I think for me, it was an adjustment for sure. Because when you come from a command structure where you're reporting to, and you have people reporting to you, it's a different system to get used to. But once I got comfortable, I understood that, hey, you have to be a self-starter; you have to seek things out. I think that it changes the way people work. On our team, the HCD team, nobody feels uncomfortable sharing an idea. Everybody equally shares their ideas or thoughts about a process or anything that they want to see within the team. I think that structure is what affords that because it gives folks the opportunity to feel comfortable to voice how they feel about things, and I think it just helps make the work better.
Q. What's been the most rewarding part of working here?
A. The most rewarding part about working at Agile Six is learning to stretch and grow in whatever role you're in. I'm on my third contract right now, and with each one, I've been able to seamlessly move from one to the other. Before, I don't think I would have been as comfortable just trying to begin a new journey with a new team and a new set of people as I have been at Agile Six because I know that there's support there. There's going to be support from the people on the team to try and get you up to speed, and there's going to be support from people who are administering the project to help you get everything you need.
Q. I often hear at Agile Six, we do things differently. How do you see Agile Six doing things differently?
A. For one, I think the main thing is living by the ethos of people first. That's something that I think Agile Six tries to live up to. It’s not necessarily growth just for growth. Is the project right? Are the people there a good fit? Is it an opportunity where folks can do their best possible work? That’s one of the things that Agile Six does differently. Another is I've never been in an organization that has somebody who is very good at one area and so easily available to you at any time. If there's anything that a project might possibly need, there’s someone to help. There is a breadth of expertise here and a willingness to share that knowledge, and that’s something that really stands out.
Q. What has surprised you the most about working at Agile Six?
A. When I first got here, it was kind of a culture shock because of the ways of working and the way folks operate here. Especially when I first came in and learned about the teal organization and the whole concept of that. Like I said before, I've come from other companies where there's very much a command hierarchical structure, and getting used to that was different. The organization's flat; everybody's opinion and thought matters and is considered. You should look to try and improve not because you're being forced to, but because that's just something that helps you, which in turn helps the organization. It feels very open here.
Q. What core value resonates the most with you, purpose, wholeness, trust, self-management, inclusion, or all of the above?
A. I want to say all of the above, but for the most part, I think trust has been something that stood out for me. Based on my experience here, you can pretty much take things at face value from what's being shared on a company level or on a team level. Everything is very open; I go back to that word open again. This is really how most people here try to be, and that’s why trust might barely edge out all of the above because it's so apparent.
Q. What do you think makes Agile Six unique from other companies in the same space?
A. The people and the culture. Those are the two things that stand out the most. I think Agile Six has a culture like nowhere else. I know it sounds cliché. Everybody else always harps on culture, and says we do things differently. But it's very evident in the way we work, and from what I've experienced, the way we work with our partners and our subcontractors is consistent. I also think that focusing on doing the best job possible and taking care of the people doing the jobs is a good way to try and do things. I think it's the openness culture that really stands out here, and the way we do things and striving to be a teal organization.
Q. What lesson or key idea have you learned while working at Agile Six, is there something that stands out to you?
A. I would say the importance of collaboration is very important here, especially when you're working with a different company, and I think that Agile Six does that well. Even though we do things differently from other companies, we try to make partners comfortable. And it’s a collaboration where you try to have healthy team dynamics, and you stamp out dynamics that are not good or that are toxic whenever you can, and encourage ways of working or the methods that have shown to be positive.
Q. If you have issues working with different teams and whatnot, is this where the coaches come into play?
A. Absolutely, the coaches have been great because you have that place where you can get that feedback and springboard ideas off them. You also have that eye that's looking at things from a different perspective, a different angle. For example, the coaching that I've been receiving lately pointed out some things to me that maybe I just didn't see. They were pointed out not to call me out but because they are opportunities for us to grow and get better.
Q. What would you say to someone who is looking to start a career at Agile Six, and what do you want people to know about this company?
A. The first thing I want somebody to know is that from day one, it will challenge your notions of workplace dynamics and the dynamics that you're used to from all the other places you've worked in your career. They are different here. Experiencing openness, when somebody can just flat out ask a question about the company's finances and the whys of things in-house. That took me aback. So for one, you're going to have to get comfortable with unlearning. And also, there's probably going to have to be a little bit of learning because you're going to have to learn more self-management than you've probably ever been used to because everybody's paddling in their own boat. For the most part, you have a lot of responsibility for yourself, and you have to learn to do your best even when nobody's looking. That doesn't mean you have free rein to not do anything. There's nobody over your shoulder constantly prodding you and poking you. So you have to identify those things. What do I need to learn to get better? What do I need to do to help my team better? That's something I think becomes part and parcel of what you do at Agile Six because you're going to be asked to do different things sometimes, and with that comes learning. You have to learn how that team functions or how that program functions. So I think being open to learning is going to be important as well.
Q. Final Thoughts
A. I've been here for two years and it's been the most positive experience I've had in the workplace. I’ve learned so much and I've experienced so much. Your work is your work–it's not your social life or your family or anything. But boy, it is great when you have an opportunity to work in a place where you feel positive about it consistently. For the most part, there isn't negativity or toxicity that really jumps out at you. There's sometimes disagreement on things, but it's just it's been a great ride so far. I think it's just the environment here has been great. And you know, I'm thankful that I'm here to grow and learn more and do more within the company.
Agile Six is a place where you come to do great work, with great people and be your best self, and that's encouraged.
Sixer Spotlight is an ongoing series to share the stories of our team. If Kunle’s story piqued your interest in a career with Agile Six, explore our open roles.