Tell us about yourself
My name is Michael Alakija, and I am a Scrum Master on the Technology Transformation team, supporting the delivery of core products and services. I am responsible for coaching Interac technology teams on the adoption and practice of Agile values and principles.
Outside of work, I volunteer in my local community with an organization called GC Agile Enablement Community where I provide mentorship to aspiring new Scrum Masters. Fun for me is watching football (not soccer!), playing video games and running around with my two-year-old.
What does a typical day look like at Interac for you?
On a typical day, I facilitate Scrum events such as daily huddles, sprint planning, refinement and retrospectives where we inspect progress on what was accomplished so far and coordinate the team’s work for the rest of the day. I remove obstacles on both a team and system level and ensure teams have the resources they need to do their work. I also coach Agile teams in moving up the maturity curve and improving practices, processes and ways of working. Lastly, I use Interac’s daily Quiet Hours to get out of my work bubble by going for short walks in the summer and using the time for healthy meal prep and working out in the winter.
What is your favourite part of your job?
Coaching teams and getting to experience their successes firsthand. It’s incredible to see real outcomes from our work, including improved scalability, more frequent releases, improved transparency, quicker turnaround of defects reported by our clients and improving the cross-functionality of the squad.
What comes to mind when you think about your journey at Interac?
I’ve worked at Interac for a year and a half now and have already had a lot of wins, learnings and career milestones. It’s exciting to enable the success of teams providing payment and value exchange services to Canadians, working on new and innovative solutions Interac is developing for market and most importantly supporting the Agile maturity of the organization… I have definitely enjoyed my journey so far.
What makes Interac a unique place to work?
The workplace culture and community investment. While the company’s focus is on shaping the future of the digital economy, Interac also takes inclusion and community investment very seriously. I have never felt out of place here and I have also seen first-hand the impact we have had on the community.
Through the Interac Experiential Learning Program, a partnership with TDSB’s Centre of Excellence for Black Student Achievement, I’ve been able to share my experience with the next generation. I was part of the 2022 TDSB Quarterly Leadership Series where we shared our experiences with Black teens – since then, one of the students from the program has reached out to me via LinkedIn for guidance and is now seriously considering a career in fintech.
What does inclusion mean to you?
Being treated as an equal and valued member of an organization and seeing people who look like me at all levels.
What advice would you give to Black youth looking to start their career?
Just start! You don’t have to have everything figured out… start with what you know, learn and adapt. It’s also important to not be afraid to pivot if needed – you don’t have to stick to something if you’re not happy with it and you’ll succeed at something you’re passionate about.
As a Black professional, I would love to see more individuals like myself in tech roles.
Interac is committed to supporting small businesses across Canada. Is there a Black-owned business in Canada you are proud to support and would like to share?
For Black History Month, I helped lead a lunch for all the employees in our Ottawa office. Since they were unfamiliar with African dishes and never tried it, I recommended Suya Palace, a local Black owned African restaurant in Ottawa, which I also recommend to anyone looking for a great meal. I worked with the restaurant to help create a customized menu for everyone to experience – we had smoked Jollof rice, Chicken and Beef Suya, Plantains and their House Salad. There were a lot of people smiling at me by the end of lunch!