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Nov 22, 2021

Ali Hajou, The Youngest SPCT Ever: “On The Crusade To Cut The Bull****!”

Ali Hajou has just recently received his SAFe® Program Consultant Trainer (SPCT) certification, making him the youngest person to receive Scaled Agile’s highest certification. Here’s how he reflects on his journey towards SAFe wizardry.

Doing things differently

Ali has been working to advance Agility since 2009, when he noticed how, at a pharmaceuticals company, “passionate people eager to develop new medicines spent the majority of their time developing documents instead of end user value … I thought ‘it shouldn’t be like this.’ Ever since then I’ve been in the business of sculpting customized ways of working using the design principles Agile provides.”

Ali later concluded that Agile alone was insufficient for a large organization, though: something was missing to account for the sheer scope of work and the increased difficulty in conveying information amongst a workforce. “It was about at this time that SAFe 3.0 had been released. In it, we found the framework we were looking for.”

Making sure people can do the “cool stuff”

Ali has made it his goal in life to facilitate the creativity and drive of other’s work. According to Ali: “Creativity has always been the driving force behind every technological and societal advancement. I spend my time working to enable the creativity of other’s work. You could say I’m on a crusade to cut the bullsh**: making sure people can focus on the ‘cool stuff’ and finding solutions, not bureaucratic crap and following instructions.”

Agile has been my weapon on this crusade. Or maybe more like a vacuum cleaner..

“Agile has been my weapon on this crusade. Or maybe more like a vacuum cleaner to suck away the slow, painful, brain numbing processes in big companies that kill the creativity of the people who are trying to create the next solutions, services, and products humanity needs."

Starting SPCT journey

Ali describes his Immersion Week as part of becoming an SPCT: “It was difficult, and it’s difficult by design. A single week ‘jampacked’ with activities, lessons, and social events. We were learning how the people at Scaled Agile give the trainings, and then were asked to give feedback on how we would improve the course materials for those trainings. It was just tremendous learning.”

I’m a seasoned SAFe consultant, so it was just a matter of providing proof of the work I was already doing.

Beginning the climb

After the Immersion week, Ali had a year to gather the rest of the requirements for his certification. According to Ali: “I’m a seasoned SAFe consultant, so it was just a matter of providing proof of the work I was already doing.”

Despite this, Ali still had to face considerable challenge. He explains: “You have to perform the ART launch ‘by-the-book’: so, using SAFe for Teams, and in the ‘correct’ order. That was a bit daunting because your clients might have different opinions about setting up an Agile transformation. However, I managed to do that with tremendous help from my mentor at Scaled Agile; Gerald Cadden.”

Summiting the SPCT mountain

Ali’s final pairing took place with Joe Vallone, one of the SAFe Fellows at Scaled Agile. “I was quite nervous: As a SAFe Fellow Joe knows an immense amount about the framework and its application. Thankfully, he is also a really, really nice guy and helped me greatly during the experience.”

“The training went really well, with participants who were very eager to learn, some who came very far – literally as well as metaphorically – with great results. All the students who took the exam passed. Everyone was energized: eager to learn, and curious. Even after 4 days and 491 slides!”

Next level satisfying.

The adventure continues

I asked Ali how it felt to have finally earned his SPCT certification. I took him a few moments to give voice to his feelings. He simply answered: “Next level satisfying.”

Upcoming Courses with Ali Hajou

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May 13

Implementing SAFe (SPC) - Classroom

Klassikale training - dagelijks 08:30 - 17:30 CEST
Klassikale training - dagelijks 08:30 - 17:30 CEST
  • Amsterdam
  • Dutch
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Written by Ali Hajou, SAFe Program Consultant Trainer (SPCT)