Lesley Bishop

Lesley Bishop

Project Manager Scrum Master at Charles Schwab

Making a 180 Into Tech: How Lesley Leveraged Her Counselling Skills to Become a Scrum Master

Had you asked Lesley Bishop ten years ago what she would be doing now, she wouldn’t have said working as a Scrum Master. Until two years ago, she didn’t even really know what a Scrum Master was. Lesley had always thought she’d pursue a career in counselling. After getting a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Iowa State and Masters in Counselling Psychology from the University of Colorado – Denver, she went into career counselling for higher education.

Mentoring has been the foundation of Lesley’s career, so it was only right that mentoring led her to where she is today. While working in higher education, she mentored students on their career goals and academic plans and met her own mentors along the way. One of her mentors helped her make the dramatic pivot from counselling to tech. After seeing Lesley’s interpersonal skills shine, her mentor suggested she consider applying those skills and taking a certification in Scrum. 

When I looked at it, it was such a great opportunity for me to use my aptitude, experience and abilities in a whole different way. And apply them to different organizations and industries. I’d always been interested in technology. I just didn’t see any way into that professionally without going back to school.

While researching Scrum and Agile, Lesley realized that her passions for leadership and organization aligned with the goals of a Scrum Master. She decided to follow her mentor’s suggestion, and take Agile for All’s Scrum Master certification. Though she assumed that her non-technical background would be an obstacle in her job search, she was pleasantly surprised to hear how interviewers valued the distinct skill sets she had developed from counselling. 

I remember sitting down [in an interview] explaining my background and my interests. And the [interviewer] said you would make an absolutely great asset to any team as a scrum master and that was incredibly impactful for me because it helped me envision myself in that role and really see my strengths, skills and experience as things that could be used in this new opportunity.

When Lesley landed her role as a Scrum Master at Charles Schwab, she was entering uncharted territory.  Not only was she changing workplaces and roles, but she was also entering a completely new industry. As she navigated this new world, she leaned on her network for advice, perspective, and comfort. 

Reframe it and give it perspective, certainly telling your own story to someone else and they can help you reframe it.  You can see [your story] from a different lens, understand it as new questions, and learn more about yourself. It can also help you destress and get advice, suggestions and just empathy and support.

Without mentoring, Lesley wouldn’t have been inspired to make the transition into technology. So she decided to pay it forward by volunteering with Anita B Membership and Mentoring. Lesley contributes to the mentoring program by recruiting potential mentors, creating mentoring resources, and providing support for mentors. Lesley strives to help other women interested in tech to find the mentors that’ll help them find their way. 

Absolutely have a mentor, have a few mentors, have many mentors. Relationships are so important. They not only help you with education and resources and how to best get into a company or get into a field or position they offer, they certainly offer the networking that you might need to go to that organization itself.

This story was written by Natalia Gutierrez, Wogrammer Journalism Fellow. Connect with her on Linkedin. Support our mission to celebrate more amazing women in tech, like the one featured here, by donating to AnitaB.org.