Stoke Member Spotlight: Valerie Gurka

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Valerie joined Stoke this summer after her team shifted to working remotely, and she made the move to Denton from Austin. She chose dedicated desk membership with 24/7 access, as she’s a senior project manager with calls to make and people to see (virtually).

Valerie works for Clear Measure, a DevOps-Centered Software Engineering company that specializes in Microsoft technologies and cloud-based platforms.  She manages DevOps and custom software projects of all sizes.

Read on to learn more about how one of our newest Stoke members helped a delivery company save a whopping $1.5 million a year, and to learn about a pretty royal tribute band name hint hint.

How did you begin working with Clear Measure and in your current role?

I started with Clear Measure to help transform their project management department, implement processes, and to train and develop other project management team members.

What is a memorable project that you’ve been involved with and are most proud of?

One of my most memorable projects was for a delivery company that needed a way to optimize their routing instead of creating them manually.  The result of the software saved 1.5 million dollars per year by reducing the number of trucks that were needed for the deliveries.

What is your day-to-day like at work?

I’m always on video conferences through Zoom.  Typically, I am running daily scrum meetings and sprint planning sessions in the mornings and meeting with team members to solve problems in the afternoon.

What was your path into your business/doing the work that you do?

I started out in management at a financial organization and then I fell into Project Management as a happy accident.  I learned how to run projects more effectively after I achieved my PMP and Scrum Master certifications. Since then, I have been constantly learning effective techniques to manage projects and to make clients happy.

How do you feel about the coworking environment at Stoke and what it’s like to be a member here?

I love working at Stoke.  I moved to Denton from Austin where I have tried out several coworking spaces there.  Stoke actually feels like a family and it is also an awesome place where great things can happen!

Why did you choose Denton to work from as a remote worker?

I chose Denton because my son will be going to school in the fall at one of the local colleges.  I also chose Denton because it is close to the DFW airport and I love to travel and get non-stop flights!

How would you define success? What are your measures of success?

Success equals happiness.  Success also means making enough money to live comfortably and travel.

What has been your biggest business/work challenge?

My biggest challenge has been managing competing priorities while training and developing team members.  Sometimes there is not enough time in the week to do it all.

What's your definition of an entrepreneur/How would you describe one?

An entrepreneur is someone who takes their idea and decides to implement it.  They are the producer of ideas and positive solutions.

Do you have any advice or insight that you would offer to someone starting out in your field?

I would suggest starting out shadowing 1-2 projects while studying to be a scrum master.  I would also recommend watching agile/scrum videos on YouTube to understand the direction that the industry is heading.  In addition I would advise anyone to become familiar with the most popular project management tools that are on the market.

What are you looking forward to in the future for your career?

I am looking forward to having more time to teach some of the practices that I have learned to other colleagues in the industry.

Is there anything else that you would like for us/readers to know about yourself?

I have been a singer in seven different bands: tribute bands, cover bands, and original bands.  My most memorable band was a female-fronted Queen tribute band named Dairy Qween. If anyone around Denton loves to make music, I’d love to jam with you.  I also love wine and cheese parties and talking about technology and business leadership practices to whoever will listen.

Thank you Valerie!