Thursday, 1st June 2023

Pamela Anoliefo: Most immigrants struggle to find gainful work that matches their skill sets

By Esther Ijewere
13 May 2023   |   4:07 am
A famous person once said, ‘Use your unique gifts and talents to make a difference in the world.’ That is what Canada-based Scrum master, Pamela Anoliefo, is doing through her Redluxe Consulting Company. Through the organisation, she offers practical hands-on training to prepare students for real-world Scrum Master Roles.

A famous person once said, ‘Use your unique gifts and talents to make a difference in the world.’ That is what Canada-based Scrum master, Pamela Anoliefo, is doing through her Redluxe Consulting Company. Through the organisation, she offers practical hands-on training to prepare students for real-world Scrum Master Roles.
Anoliefo has over 13 years of experience as a Release Train Engineer, Scrum Master, Project Manager, Product Manager & Business Analyst across multiple industries such as financial services, retail, insurance, non-profit organizations, startups, cards, acquiring, payments & e-commerce. She is also a Release Train Manager in a prominent bank in Canada.

Apart from being an agile professional, Anoliefo, who holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering and a Master’s degree in Innovation and Entrepreneurship from Queen’s University, Kingston, is an active volunteer in the community and on the university council advisory at Queens University, Kingston, Ontario.

In this interview with ESTHER IJEWERE, Pamela shares her inspiring journey and how she became one of the most sought-after Scrum Masters in Canada.

Childhood Influence
Both of my parents were first-born children and the first in their immediate family to get graduate-level education, which meant they grew up with a sense of duty and responsibility to pave the way for the upcoming generation. As a first-born child to first-born parents, my parents raised me to believe that as a girl child, I could be successful.

While we were from a middle-class family, my parents spared no expense in giving my siblings and me a good education. It is noteworthy to point out that my mother was a teacher; not just any teacher, but a very passionate one. Therefore, every one of us grew up under her firm instructions, which set us up for success.
Finally, I discovered a love for reading as a young kid, which opened up my eyes early to magical worlds and assimilating millions of contents that shaped my thinking of the world around me, and how to thrive in it. I truly credit my parent’s role in raising me with confidence and my intense love for reading for preparing me to become the woman I am today.

The Inspiration Behind Redluxe Consulting 
I have over 15 years of expertise in technology across multiple roles such as business analysis, and scrum master, project manager and release train engineer. I moved to Canada five years ago and have been fortunate to get roles in technology doing work that I love and have the skills to do. However, this is not the story for a vast majority of immigrants and even more disproportionately female newcomers to Canada.

Most immigrants move to Canada and struggle to find meaningful work that matches their skill sets. Seeing this gap, I began to mentor and coach newcomers to Canada to help them land roles in Scrum and Business Analysis. And the more I worked with them, the more I saw how much difference it made in their confidence level and also their ability to land jobs.
Given this success, a lot of my previous mentors and friends urged me to consider starting my consulting firm to extend the impact and scope of my services to empower more people to get into technology even with no prior experience. As a trainer and coach, I know that empowering people with the necessary skills to start a new career goes a long way in empowering them financially, which in turn makes a difference in their families and the economy as a whole.

The Journey So Far
Being an entrepreneur is not an easy feat. As a training company, we have lots of competitors, so staying relevant and trying to get our market share has been challenging. However, due to our practical training approach, which offers hands-on experience on real projects, we have been scaling at a steady pace. There are lots of late nights to prepare for training, meet deadlines and do PR for the business.

Also, as a trainer, I keep investing in my training to keep learning best practices, which I can translate back into my services. The Journey is still unfolding, but when I take a look at the impact we bring through empowering clients with the skills required to become Scrum Masters or get an Agile certification, we continue to press forward and are very fulfilled to see the difference we have made since Redluxe launched.

My Multi-industry Experience
Multi-industry experience has made me a well-rounded professional, because I bring transferable skills from the different roles I have had in my career and these experiences help me stand out in the workplace and also in my role as trainer and coach.

Even though Agile has been around for a while, its implementation is still in its infancy in a lot of corporations and this is challenging, because as Scrum Masters, we have to influence teams to adopt a new way of working. Most times, people push back because of the fear of change and the familiarity of the current way of working. It takes time and patience to influence them to transform into being agile, this can become challenging when people are resistant to change.

Also, there is a lack of black females in technology and often times in meetings, I find I am the only woman in the room and sometimes the only black person too, which can feel lonely. Being female in technology means that the male voices dominate discussions and that I have to show up strongly to make my voice heard and my opinions recognised.

Other Projects And Activities
I am a current University councillor at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario; this role provides advisory support to the university leadership. I also volunteer at organizations such as Access Employment, Ontario and the Network of Nigerians in Canada

What I Enjoy Most About My Job
As a Scrum Master and Release Train Engineer, I am a servant leader, which means I help other people succeed and this brings me satisfaction seeing how high performing my teams are and the cool products they launch that address customers’ needs or solve a customer’s pain point. Most importantly, my role provides work-life balance; it is a high-paying technology role and so, it checks all the boxes.

Three Women Who Inspire Me And Why
Michelle Obama: As the first black U.S First Lady, she showed up with strength, class and deep knowledge. I found this very remarkable because it must have been a challenging role, but she executed it flawlessly. Even after leaving office, her impact has not waned; she continues to be an in-demand speaker at events. I like her humility and her can-do attitude. Even in the face of being the first black First Lady, she still blazed the trail
Beyonce: As a multi-award-winning artiste that has a global impact, I admire Bey’s consistent career; she continues to release hit after hit. I like the quality and effort she puts into her albums and the fact that she has led a mostly scandal-free career. Beyonce is setting good examples for girls that they can succeed without being controversial.
My Mother (Mrs. Anthonia Okeke): My mother was my first role mother; she taught us as kids and made us believe we could succeed. She set a good example for me by having an illustrious career as an educator while running a successful catering business. I learnt the value of getting a good education; good values and entrepreneurship all from my mum and can never thank her enough for the sacrifices she made for us while growing up.

How To Support Women Who Are Trying To Navigate Their Career Path
A lot of women struggle with making a choice between careers and raising a family. In general, there are still lower numbers of women in technology compared to men.

Society needs to support women by not guilting women who want thriving careers, as well as families, but rather creating an environment that supports the multiple roles women play in our society.

One Thing I Wish To Change In My Sector
It would be to get more BIPOC agile professionals into the role; there is still a gap in the number of people of colour represented in the agile project management field.

Being A Woman Of Rubies
I am incredibly passionate about empowering people to take charge of their career growth. Whenever I have the opportunity, you will find me mentoring and coaching people, to learn the strategies to build fulfilling careers. I believe that when people get the jobs they want, it has a multiplier effect on their families and the economy at large.

At Redluxe, we are all about providing superior training to give our students the knowledge they require to land roles in Scrum while coaching them to confidently believe that these career dreams are achievable. One of the recurring feedback we get from students who have attended our class is that we simplify the training process by removing complex industry jargon. They feel confident after the training and are still able to retain everything they learned after class. I jokingly say we make career dreams a reality.