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Embracing Agile: How Curiosity Turned into a Career

July 5, 2017 | Express Scripts

Marek is a senior software developer on the Home Delivery team working to develop and implement new solutions to better serve our members.

As a child, Marek was endlessly curious. Even at the age of five he could be found taking household items apart to see what was inside. He was determined to figure out how and why things worked, which, among other things, resulted in a few close calls with an electrical outlet.

Marek’s appreciation for creation and the delivery aspect of technology continued into his college years where he majored in Computer Science. “When it comes to technology, I love the process of starting with a blank page and having nothing to go on but an idea. You’re able to slowly start to build piece by piece and eventually, you end up with a complete working application. This actually applies to anything that you do. You can create a car, piece of furniture or a software system – it all starts with an idea,” shares Marek.

Curiosity Turned Career

In his current position as a senior software developer at Express Scripts, Marek works on the Home Delivery team, supporting the consumer website. “My team builds what is the face of the company to the outside world,” shares Marek. “Our members use the website to manage their medications and view their benefits. It’s my job to make that easier for them, by coming up with new ideas and implementing improvements to the overall design.”

Marek and his team see solutions through from an idea on a piece of paper to a full blown application. “Sometimes I feel like a kid in a chocolate factory. I truly enjoy what I’m doing. I’ve been here 15 years and even though every day has its own challenges and opportunities, I find working here really rewarding. I leave at the end of the day with a sense of accomplishment, knowing that my work actually helps people,” Marek comments.

Leading the Way in Agile Methodology

Recently, Marek had an opportunity to play the role of “Agile evangelist” for Express Scripts. “In an ongoing initiative to make Express Scripts a truly Agile organization, I was sent to New York where I worked with an organization to learn Agile methodology and its main concepts like test-driven development and extreme programming. I was then asked to teach teams at Express Scripts how to properly execute projects in an agile fashion,” explains Marek.

Currently, Marek is working with two teams in Franklin Lakes to spin up an Agile workforce. “I have members of our teams participating in what’s called pair programming. Teammates sit together, both with their own display, mouse and keyboard, but sharing one computer. Both take turns on the keyboard – one writes code while the other reviews what has been written. I love doing this because teammates are given the opportunity to bounce ideas off one another in real time and get immediate feedback,” says Marek.

As a technology veteran of sorts, Marek has always been interested in improving the ways teams manage their work to deliver solutions to consumers. When Agile methodology first came up, it immediately caught his attention.  “It’s an interesting concept because it focuses solely on the work required to deliver working software to an end user and removes any overhead which prevents development teams from being truly productive. You can read about Agile every day of the week, but until you actually practice it, you don’t truly understand its value,” he shares. “That’s why taking the time to not only read about, but practice new technology trends is essential to continually innovate.”

Tech Retro

Putting value in investing time to learn about new technologies is what led Marek to implement a team activity he calls Tech Retro.  “Tech Retro is a half-hour meeting we conduct in which every team member picks a recent technological advancement they find interesting and presents it to the team,” shares Marek. In a world where technology is always changing, Marek wants his team to stay at the forefront.

“My advice for anyone currently in the technology field, or those looking to make a career switch, is to make sure you don’t get comfortable with your skills and expertise. No one knows what big software framework or tool is going to become popular next, but if you are always on the lookout for new technology or ideas, you’ll set yourself up to stay ahead of the curve.”

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