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Zach Bonaker

  

Agile Coach, Willis Towers Watson

Location: San Diego


Certifications

Certified Scrum Professional
Certified ScrumMaster
Certified Scrum Product Owner

Credentials

Biography

Zach Bonaker

I believe that every creative business activity we engage in can benefit from Agile and Lean principles. I am wired to assist people in discovering their potential and I feel a deep passion for Agile-driven product development: to sense change, adapt to it, and respond with solutions that create a competitive advantage. Above all, my authentic presence is that of a servant-leader that cultivates growth, learning, and discovery.


The value of my input lies in my ability to solve problems that are not routine. In my career, I’ve served and mentored high-performing teams, steered products to financial success, coached executive leaders, and redesigned organizational structures to be more collaborative – all while evoking a culture informed by next-generation Agile thinking.

Work experience

Willis Towers Watson, Agile Coach
June 2016 - Present,
I joined Willis Towers Watson to bring my experience with Agile systems of work, teams, and change management to support the continued transformation of the company's software development systems. I started as a Scrum Master and guided a team through a brief reset, focusing on vision, shared values as a core foundation, and broke down role associations that inhibited the team from fully owning their work. After a few months, I was asked to transition into the role of Agile Coach for the Innovations development group and collaborate on the continued use, learning, and growth of Agile at the company. At the time of this edit, I've created a vision for "team coach" and described the skills demonstrated by the role, being deliberate in inviting our ScrumMasters to let a coaching culture emerge. A team of coaches supporting one another has taken shape and our teams are responding to newfound freedom to experiment, be unique in their approach to work, and--most importantly--focus on delivery. I've also started study groups to encourage learning new skills and introduced visualizations to facilitate conversations about areas we might improve on. I'm looking forward to updating this section with more of our journey in 2017!

Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Agile Coach
March 2016 - June 2016, San Diego, CA, United States
The County of San Diego selected Hewlett-Packard Enterprise to replace a legacy mainframe for property tax systems - and HP selected me to teach teams how to use Agile principles to implement the new system. During this three month engagement, I coached two teams to visualize the flow of work, slice backlog increments according to stakeholder value, and introduced retrospectives for continuous discovery. My most significant contribution was bringing together 15 people--senior leaders and team members--to begin the practice of regular continuous improvement for the entire system of work. In just three hours, I facilitated a retrospective that led to the discovery of improved backlog visualization and priorities.

Valuation Vision,
August 2015 - November 2015, Carlsbad, California
Change is—and always has been—about people. As Valuation Vision merged with Zaio Corporation, company leadership looked to me to guide the transition of work systems and people relationships. Taking a systems-thinking approach, I facilitated the design of activity spanning the complete concept-to-delivery flow of software. By engaging product leaders and team members with outcomes to achieve, I created space for adaptive systems to emerge and reduced friction between people. In just 30 days, the team reduced stale work in queues by 75% and cut production lead time in half. Shortly thereafter, executive change occurred and financial concerns resulted in my position being cut.

24 Hour Fitness, Agile Coach
September 2014 - August 2015, Carlsbad, California
24 Hour Fitness asked for help in gaining the benefits of Agile product development in a company where software development is not the primary activity of the business. While balancing consulting and coaching activities, I partnered with IT department management to improve the flow of software delivery to end users, both internal and external to the organization. I guided six software teams in the use of a variety of Agile practices (e.g., Scrum, Kanban) and helped team members discover adaptive systems of work. Further, I designed an organizational structure to accelerate the flow of software to the enterprise and consulted multiple managers on team coaching/leadership. I left 24 Hour Fitness shortly before the end of my contract to take a full-time position as a change management leader and coach.

RainTree Oncology Services, Agile Consultant
July 2014 - September 2014, San Diego, CA
RainTree’s products needed to be first to market and integrate complex data in a user-friendly web application. Recognizing the competitive advantage possible with Agile, I joined the company as a consultant and worked directly with the CIO to develop a data warehouse development team using Kanban and a high-performing application team using the Scrum framework. Further, I coached the CIO on practices for increasing team engagement with product backlogs, including user story mapping and canvases for goal-driven product roadmaps. After a successful product beta, I left RainTree to tackle an enterprise transformation challenge at 24 Hour Fitness.

Symitar, Strategic Project Manager
December 2008 - July 2014, San Diego, CA
In the final five years of my career with Symitar, I had the privilege of working with the Director of Product Development in leading an Agile transformation to reduce the long SDLC cycle times that plagued the company. I coached multiple teams in learning Agile practices, created strategic roadmaps for new products, designed empiric performance metrics illustrating transformation progress, and was the primary agent for advocating organizational change – often stepping across enterprise verticals to create new partnerships. I even started a learning community for Agile and Lean principles by bringing together more than fifty employees on a monthly basis to learn, discuss, and share ideas for both individual and company improvement. My proudest accomplishment at Symitar was collaboration with three business units – with no previous relationship – to form a product roadmap from customer requests for an improved transaction logging system. I led my team with Agile practices and built a new product in only 9 months that amazed our customers – and beat the prior “waterfall” estimate of 30 months for implied cost to market savings of over $1M.

Symitar, Multiple Positions
January 2004 - December 2008, San Diego, CA
I joined Symitar, a division of Jack Henry & Associates, after finishing my undergraduate degree at San Diego State University. I started my career in technical support and received multiple promotions for a variety of different roles, eventually becoming a systems analyst for Symitar’s operations. I enjoyed my early experiences and gained a tremendous amount of knowledge, especially regarding operational management and the use of multivariate statistics. Of note, I created forecast models that increased available programming hours for R&D by nearly 15% and reduced support cases pertaining to known bugs by more than 20% by redesigning operational schedules for patch releases. In 2007, I was awarded a bonus and included in a group of five “Critical Contributors to Symitar’s Success”. In 2008, I was promoted to work closely with the company’s new Director of Product Development.

 

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