Girls in ICT: interview with our SCRUM Master Marisa Adinolfi

On the occasion of International Girls in ICT Day, we interviewed fellow SCRUM Master Certified, Marisa Adinolfi, who has turned her passion for science subjects into a varied and challenging job.


Good morning Marisa, tell us what was your STEM background and first impact with Italtel?

If I think back to my course of study, I chose to do high school science without any particular motivation, my passion for science subjects and Research developed year by year and perhaps it was by tackling subjects, such as Latin, that I built my own study method and developed a strong aptitude for problem solving.

Around the time I graduated there was a boom in Computer Science, and I remember during walks along the Salerno waterfront interviewing friends and acquaintances who were pursuing this emerging path of study. This was, in those days, the way of social networking and comparison!

University was a beautiful time.

The first few years were very selective; we started with 500 enrollees and ended up with only a few dozen in later years. We were a group of passionate and motivated students.

I graduated with honors and immediately received several job offers, including some close to home. At that time there was the Olivetti boom, and many chose to move to Ivrea.

There was a great shortage of graduates and therefore so many opportunities. By choice I was taking all the interviews that were offered to me by both companies and research organizations such as CNR, I needed to get a feel for the world of work and quickly too.

Italtel was one of the first companies to contact me, and from there I began the (long) path of selection first in Naples and then in Milan. The last interview, the technical one held in Milan, was the decisive one. I remember being impressed by the preparation of the engineer who interviewed me, the seriousness he exuded and the prospects he offered. The agreement with AT&T was being signed and I was to be included in the Software (SW) project group for the Intelligent Network with the prospect of going to AT&T laboratories in the USA (which happened a year later). The understanding must have been mutual as once the interview was over and after only a brief internal consultation, I was asked …. when I would be available to relocate!

Did the decision to move to Milan and your early work experience match expectations?

The decision to put eight hundred kilometers between me and my family, from my friends, and from my beautiful Salerno was not an easy one. But the prospects and the challenge of being part of a project on a global scale won out. Years later I can also say that it was one of the most important and formative projects, I think I was also very lucky to be able to be part of it. That project brought to Italy the Green Numbers, the first implementation of Televote, the management of mass calls (in those years games such as the bean game launched by Raffaella Carrà 😊 with live calls that sent the network into crisis were depopulated at noon) and many other services.

But the company did not let us rest on our laurels, and practically on the heels of the launch of Intelligent Network services with SIP (now TIM), the entire working group was diverted to an even more compelling challenge, that of mobile in GSM technology.

We had twelve tomes to study and implement (the ETSI specifications) and they were spread out somewhat randomly. The deadline was very close and we were studying and working relentlessly. I remember that Short Message Service (SMS) had been chosen to be addressed in low priority, customers were struggling to understand its possible use and importance!

The GSM period was the one that most absolutely caused me so many emotions. Indelible are the memories of the first time when in our laboratory in Castelletto we put in the air the base transceiver station – BTS (the rack with the transceivers and its leds that with the transition from SW loading to configuration data went from red to intermittent yellow and then settled on a stable green had an almost Christmas charm), the first GSM call , the first services but also the first inefficiencies (historical for us and for TIM the one in Puglia in August at 20.30 at the ‘entry into force of a favorable tariff).

After the GSM period, I moved on to fixed-line services and became increasingly interested in Technologies concerning integrated telecommunications systems. It was during this period that I began to cultivate an interest in IP equipment and protocols.

And now we come to your most recent work: what can you tell us about Agile methodology and the SCRUM approach?

When everything in Research now seemed defined, understood and settled came the Agile methodology revolution.

Once again Italtel allowed me to step out of my comfort zone, which inevitably comes when you keep doing the same things over time.

In the role of Scrum Master, I have worked with most of the teams and almost all of the Research products (from the NetMatch Session Border Controller family to the IMS Core and Application products called i-MCS and i-TDS).

This experience has resulted in further enrichments both from a technical/managerial and human perspective. My understanding of Agile and its paradigms was also cultivated by consistently attending the many meetings and meetups that Milan offers on the topic.

I think it has been an extremely good choice for our company to have taken the path of transforming development processes from Waterfall to Agile for more than a decade now. The ‘Waterfall approach (waterfall method) divides software development into distinct phases; you don’t move on to the next phase unless the previous one is finished while the Agile approach involves short, complete iterative development cycles that make it easy to adapt to changes and accommodate feedback.

This advantage became crystal clear in 2020 with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Being organized as a team, having Scrum ceremonies with daily and bi-weekly fixed appointments has allowed us to continue working remotely without blowback and to pull through the darkest moments. In addition to the organizational aspect, the Agile approach has given us a new way of approaching product testing and release: Continuos Integration-Continuos Delivery. This is how in the midst of lockdown, thanks to the mechanisms and processes that have grown and broken down over the years, we were able to meet delivery and deliver the expected SW releases. Hence the idea of spreading the approach of automatic testing also to our customers who, on the other hand, at that very time had found themselves unable to go onsite to perform manual testing.

Looking back on the choices you made, what would you recommend to girls who might pursue a STEM path today?

Looking back, I can say that I would make the same choices again: Italtel is a company that has always been able to renew itself and give its people the opportunity to gain interesting experiences, get to know and work in different realities, allowing them to develop flexibility, organizational skills and adaptation in different contexts.

To girls today who are in the process of choosing whether or not to pursue a path in STEM fields, I would advise them to let their enthusiasm and passion carry them as I did, to fearlessly choose subjects in science and technology, and then … the rest will come!

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