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Ed Fenton


Sr. Director, Digital IT, Univar

Location: Downers Grove, IL


Ed Fenton | Specialties: Project Management, Agile, Scrum | Beginning in January 2015 as Director, Customer Engagement Technology I have been working to bring Scrum and Agile development practices to Univar which has been a traditional, waterfall shop. Univar had previously experimented with Agile without success due to lack of executive support and failure to dedicate team members to project. With the support of the Chief Information Officer (CIO), Erik Viens, we identified a work stream that was suitable and launched the Ignite Program. The Ignite Program consisted of a number of highly interdependent projects with fixed budgets and firm delivery dates. While I had previous positive experience with single Scrum teams, I had experienced challenges when multiple Scrum team were required to work together to deliver a larger product. While adopting a Scrum-of-Scrums helped highlight and resolve issues, we needed a solution to ensure that cross-team dependencies were managed, individual teams were delivering at a sufficient pace, and risks were more actively managed. After some research, I felt that the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) consisted of some useful constructs and practices that could help us scale Scrum in our enterprise context. After attending the training and achieving the SAFe Program Consultant (SPC) certification, we launched an Agile Release Train (ART) with our first Program Increment (PI) Planning session in February 2015. All team members, with the exception of our offshore team who would start attending in PI2, were in attendance. After presentations from some Executives on the vision and context of the Program, the Product Owners presented their vision for the Product over the next 10 weeks (the length of our PI) and the top-10 Epics that they wanted to deliver. We also had the Architects present changes to data and technical models along with the top-3 technical Epics that they wanted to accomplish in the next 10 weeks. The teams then spent the next 2 days decomposing the Epics into User Stories, sequencing them, and assigning them to capacity leveled Sprints until they had a plan that all team members could commit to. Conducting this type of planning event, that was not tied to a release, was transformational. By having all teams co-located for the planning, we were able to identify and resolve, in real time, cross-team dependencies and resource constraints. We increased awareness of the activities that other teams were completing and how each team impacted the other. We were also able to dedicate time to identify Risks to the program and put mitigation plans or owners in place to ensure that those Risks did not turn into issues. Most importantly, we were able to create a PI burn down chart to understand if individual teams were making sufficient progress to advance the Program as a whole. Once the Program began executing, we began to really focus on our technical practices to increase our velocity, eliminate waste, and improve our quality and time-to-value. We implemented GitHub for source control and decided to work solely in the main branch. We implemented Copado for continuous integration and deployment to reduce the time spent by developers deploying code. We are now in the process of implementing Provar for automated testing as manual testing is no longer viable. In the past two years, I have grown to understand the need for Executive Support for an Agile transformation initiative. I have learned to treat things like SAFe as a toolbox – take out of them what you need / what is useful, and leave the rest behind. I have also seen, through experience, that Agile teams cannot be successful in the long-term by merely adopting Scrum if they do not change their development practices as well. My ongoing focus will be to embrace DevOps to automate and monitor “everything.”

Work experience

Univar, Sr. Director - Digital IT
June 2017 - Present, Downers Grove, IL, US
Business Partner to the Commercial Organization serving Sales and Customer Service with a technology portfolio including, IBM WebSphere Commerce, CloudCraze (eCommerce native on, Informatica Cloud, and Mulesoft.

Univar, Director, Digital IT
February 2014 - June 2017, Downers Grove, IL, US
Developing innovative solutions to focus on customer engagement with tight integration and alignment across, business intelligence, eCommerce, and other customer facing applications.

Univar, Program Manager
February 2011 - January 2014, Redmond, WA, US
Successfully manage / handle multiple projects simultaneously. Plan and execute cross-functional projects with scopes that have significant impact to the business. Oversee, coordinate and assist in the management of all facets of projects within a given program ensuring milestones and deliverables are met within schedule, budget and quality ensured. Direct and support project teams within the program balancing project priorities and tradeoff decisions as necessary, escalating issues as appropriate. Develop and maintain Master Program Plans (master schedule, risk mitigation plans, etc.) that provide insight into and resolution of any and all issues and risks. Manage vendor relationships ensuring cost control and timely deliverables. Develop and coordinate program controls and associated metrics to measure success. Manage adherence to approved company practices and policies within the program and PMO Methodology/Framework. Mentor Project Managers working under any given program.

Univar, Project Manager
August 2009 - February 2012, Redmond, WA, US
Responsible for the planning and execution of assigned projects through estimating, task planning, resource allocation, organizational change management and the application of project management life cycle methodology. Implemented a Global PMO including project methods and toolset.


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