Woman in Agile: Lola Li

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Woman in Agile: Lola Li

Woman in Agile: Lola Li
Christopher Chitty
6 min
29 Sep. 2021

People are our greatest assets. They are the foundation for a strong and positive culture. When people in an organisation are given the skills and authority to make important, autonomous decisions, the result is a group of highly engaged individuals who are driven to succeed.

We believe strongly in our people at why innovation!

They are our coworkers, our friends and our family. To celebrate their accomplishments, we want to shine a little spotlight on each of them, starting with our very own why! Woman in Agile, Lola Li!

Lola Li aspired to be many things when she was a child, including a teacher, a researcher, and even a businesswoman. Her father worked at a university and for 24 years of her life, she lived and grew up on campus. Through kindergarten to university, Lola’s growth was suffused with academia. Being in that environment through most of her formative years as well as counting cerebral games like sudoku and other brain-teasing puzzles as hobbies, Lola developed a perceptive and analytical mind.

But while studious, she has a soul for sports and adventure. And when the opportunity presented itself, she spread her wings first by exploring different cities in China, from Beijing to Chengdu before finally moving to Singapore with her husband and kids.

"Stepping out from my comfort zone was not easy," Lola says. Yet she did it anyway because she was, "keen to explore, adapt and enjoy."

A diligent professional, Lola is no stranger to working one’s way up. She started as a QA engineer, becoming a development manager, program manager, and now, a Senior Consultant at why innovation!

As a result of her experience and ongoing investment in the growth of her skills, her expertise expanded across different Agile disciplines.

A dedicated practitioner of Agile methodologies, Lola is also a skilled Scrum Master experienced with Scrum, Kanban, LeSS (Large Scale Scrum), Leading SAFe (Scaled Agile), Scrum of Scrums, DevOps and more.

This extensive background, including her 15+ years of experience in software development & engineering, has given her a keen insight into the workings and challenges faced by many industries, from security to retail to banking. When working with a client from these industries, Lola draws from that background to provide practical, tailored solutions to overcome those challenges.

She also goes above and beyond for her clients by establishing herself not just as a consultant, but a member of every team she joins.

Interested in transitioning into a career as an Agile coach? Join us today and learn from people like Lola. Click here for more

Being in the trenches, so to speak, alongside the people as a good team player is where she believes she does her best work. It's just one of the ways Lola distinguishes herself as an Agile consultant, a trait shared by her colleagues in why innovation!

While she may not have ultimately chosen a career of a teacher, researcher or businesswoman, she frequently finds herself in these roles and more as an Agile consultant.

Becoming Agile can be difficult, but Lola believes it is a worthwhile endeavor. It just requires a sound plan and commitment. And like all good strategies and plans, it begins with a small step in the right direction. Much of Lola’s professional approach and easy-going personality can be summed up in her favourite Chinese saying,

"千里之行, 始于足下 (a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step)."

This adage can be applied to anything, from her consultancy work and to her time at home with her children. It simplifies difficult situations by breaking them down into manageable tasks.

And if there was ever a global event that would put a person's ability to take things one step at a time to the test, it would be COVID-19. Lola like every other parent in around the world was suddenly faced with the daunting task of working at home with the kids, especially when the pandemic began in 2020.

Lola has had to compartmentalise and develop personal ways to manage the situation while balancing work and ensuring her children do not fall behind in school. It’s not a good idea according to her to, "underestimate a working mother’s potential’; to rise above the trials and keep forging ahead. Even so, she acknowledges that it’s not easy, even now. But like solving one of her Sudoku puzzles, she believes the key is an abundance of patience and strategy.

"Plan what to do and review what has been done daily with regular retrospectives," she says. It's not dissimilar to leading a Scrum team, which means that setting the right expectations is essential.

"As long as the kids can make their own plan, stick to the plan, and follow the agreed principles, that is already a great achievement."

That positivity and ability to adapt what she brings to the client’s table to her home is why Lola is such an accomplished Agile coach at why innovation!

November marks Lola’s fourth year at why innovation! In that time, she’s contributed hugely to the success of the consultancy, while becoming a more formidable consultant. She attributes that to working with talented colleagues from different backgrounds and capabilities, who provide not just new insights, but unique ones too.

Indeed, it is because of smart and capable individuals like Lola that why innovation! was recently acquired by global consulting firm, Wavestone!

Working with smart people, she feels, motivates her to be, "better today than yesterday".

With a culture of learning and a respect for people’s autonomy, why innovation! provides Agile and Innovation consultants with a space to truly own their work and make meaningful changes while working for their expansive list of established clients. It’s a tribe of like-minded individuals from eclectic backgrounds who come together for a common goal: building resilient companies and improving their ability to deliver value.

If you are an Agile consultant (or even looking to begin a career as a consultant) who wants to usher in positive agile transformations for companies struggling to digitalise and become more efficient, Lola invites you to join with this closing statement.

"why innovation! respects autonomy. If you are looking for a platform to shine with freedom," Lola says, "the why! Tribe is definitely a good choice."

We are hiring Agile coaches. If you are passionate about Agile and would like to join us, click here!

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