Kris Philippaerts, founder of iLean, joined a highly exclusive group in May 2023: the one of Certified Scrum Trainers. There are only around 200 of them worldwide, with five living in Belgium. The journey to becoming a Certified Scrum Trainer is long, and it is a career in itself. It requires a great deal of work, but fortunately, it also comes with numerous benefits. And Kris has one of the most crucial qualities for this role: passion! 😉
The Journey to Certified Scrum Trainer
Becoming a Certified Scrum Trainer is not an easy task. In addition to having several years of experience, giving countless training sessions, and developing profound insights, you must also pass a rigorous submission process through The Scrum Alliance, the largest and most influential certification organization for Scrum and Agile.
Kris Philippaerts: “Becoming and being a Certified Scrum Trainer is truly a career in itself. I have been working in an Agile environment since 2004 and have been conducting training sessions for approximately 15 years. Over the past decade, my career decisions have been focused on achieving the Certified Scrum Trainer certification. It takes time, but it’s necessary. The Scrum Alliance places great emphasis on quality, which is why the process takes so long and the requirements are strict. Not everyone can simply obtain the certificate based on book knowledge alone.”
Kris: “Before becoming a Certified Scrum Trainer, you must achieve all other Scrum Alliance certifications. It is a step-by-step process in which you prove your experience and insights, which is why it takes several years. In addition to earning certifications, you must also do a sort of apprenticeship with other Certified Trainers. You request them to be your mentor, observe their training sessions, and co-train sessions yourself. Ideally, you gain experience with different trainers because each trainer has their own style and approach.”
“Alongside the hands-on experience, you compile an extensive document discussing all your experiences. It covers how you deliver training sessions, the completed learning objectives, your didactic methods, how you handle feedback, and so on. It’s completed with training recordings and recommendations from other trainers and clients. It also includes your experience as a Scrum Master, Product Owner, and other roles.”
“When the application file is ready, you submit it to the Scrum Alliance for evaluation. And this is the tricky part, because there’s a very small chance you’ll succeed on the first try. It’s not like studying for an exam and getting a degree.”
“Once your application is approved, you are invited to the Trainer Approval Community at one of the Scrum Gatherings, which are large Scrum conferences usually held in Europe or the United States. There, you defend your submitted application, do an interview, and give a test lesson to a panel of Certified Trainers. It is an intense process… and honestly, it asked a lot of me.
“I was accepted after the second submission. The reason why the certificate is so challenging to obtain is that the Scrum Alliance truly wants to ensure quality. They only want to endorse professionals who invest a significant amount of time – all their time – in Scrum and Agile, who are deeply knowledgeable and experienced, and who are committed to further expanding and sharing that knowledge in the future. You can imagine it requires at least a decade of your time.”
Certified for Life?
Kris: “No, you have to keep working for it! It is an active certification that comes with a set of obligations. You are required to conduct a minimum number of Certified Trainings each year, contribute valuable insights to the community, and optionally be involved in screening others who apply to become Certified Scrum Trainers. You are also expected to attend conferences and participate in annual retreats with other Certified Scrum Trainers. It is an active international commitment.”
And what if you don’t fulfill these obligations?
“Then you cannot renew your certification. You don’t have to take an exam or evaluation every year, but there is a check-up to determine if it is valuable to renew your certification. If you lose it, you have to go through the entire process again. As you can guess, this is truly the top of the top in the world. And like many certifications, being a Certified Scrum Trainer also comes with a price tag.”
Impact on iLean and Work Life
Kris: “I don’t experience it as an abrupt change because I’ve been working towards it for so long. It’s not like I suddenly have a different job or an additional part-time position. However, I noticed almost instantly that my network expanded. With such a small group of Certified Scrum Trainers (only 5 in Belgium), you naturally gain some attention. So, it is a significant step forward for the external perception of me as a professional and for iLean as a company. People seem to trust me more. And if this helps iLean grow as a company, it’s only a good thing!”
“There have also been changes regarding our training sessions. I now deliver our Certified Trainings myself instead of relying on external trainers to do it for us. At the end of May, I conducted the first certification training, which was fully booked immediately. Furthermore, we now have greater control over the quality of the training sessions and have direct contact with the participants, that’s incredibly enriching because you hear about the stories and challenges they face on a daily basis. You can then provide tailored solutions.”
What does the future hold for you and iLean?
Kris: “The increased revenue we generate from conducting the certification trainings will be invested in enhancing the quality of new trainings and developing an updated offering. Now, we can actively market these Certified Trainings. In the next years, we will also focus on diversifying our training offerings even more. Having the certification allows us to work even more as a strategic partner and explore new markets, enabling us to continue growing. I am really looking forward to it!”
So are we, Kris! We are very excited to see what lies ahead.