Verified Expert in Project Management
With a career spanning over 20 years, Bella is an expert IT management consultant and project delivery lead, focusing on lean and agile practices, DevOps craftsmanship, and project management excellence. Bella is passionate about her field, as evidenced by her being an avid blogger, presenter, panelist, and most recently being selected to review the early drafts of the PMBOK 7th edition and provide expert feedback.
Owner | Principal Consultant
- Founded Ardigent (an IT management consulting firm) and served as a principal consultant.
- Enabled an enterprise agile transformation by conducting an agency-wide Agile readiness assessment, authoring an SEC agile playbook, coaching the initial agile pilots, and co-authoring an enterprise transformation roadmap.
- Advised on agile and DevSecOps topics for a mid-tier government contractor by coaching the company’s software engineering practice SWAT team, strategically advising the executive leadership, conducting market research for new industry trends, and provided training.
- Consulted with a number of clients (mid-tier and large government contractors) and coached their teams through the engineering of fully operational ML-enabled solutions along with building the microservice architecture and deployment on AWS via CI/CD pipelines and advising the leadership team on developing advanced skills and corporate approach for continuous learning.
- Advised on agile and DevSecOps topics for a large government contractor client by coaching the client’s DevSecOps center-of-practice team, holding workshops and simulations, and advising the senior leadership on corporate capability growth.
- Coached and led three teams in incorporating agile and DevOps techniques for solving 3 different AI/ML problems. Each of the projects was a 2-3 week endeavor for developing a small MVP/POC. For each one, we were able to integrate AWS SageMaker notebook for batch-processing predictions, delivering data to a PostgreSQL/Elasticsearch datastore and microservice architecture application deployed on AWS OpenShift clusters, through fully automated CI/CD pipelines. Two out of the three solutions required the integration of an ensemble of algorithms for NLP, entity resolution, and photo recognition. (The third was an NLP and unsupervised clustering of corpus data.). Granted, each solution was small and somewhat synthetic, but my teams and I demonstrated a full command of the technologies and processes for delivering MLOps solutions.
- Conducted discovery-type workshops with the business owners for an internal agency system to define product epics for the backlog, create high-level estimates, generate a release roadmap and plan, and write a statement of work for the delivery contract.
Vice President, Development Services
- Led the line of business, agile, and DevOps services, overseeing the corporate capability development and growth, thought leadership, and P&L.
- Developed new corporate capabilities for agile delivery, DevOps, cloud migration, and cloud development.
- Served as the technical coach of the team that performed the DHS USCIS e-verify system migration to the AWS cloud.
- Established the agile and DevOps center of excellence.
- Built the internal R&D lab for innovation and prototyping of AWS cloud solutions and evaluation of DevSecOps tools.
- Coached the cross-functional team in adopting the best DevSecOps practices.
- Advised the client leadership at DHS OBIM and Coast Guard on planning and executing their agile transformations.
- Consulted with the DHS USCIS client leadership on best practices for scaling the agile methodology in large programs.
- Managed a portfolio of eight federal prime contracts (160 personnel, $15.5 million annual budget).
- Achieved in 2017: a budget under $1.7 million, net revenue of $1.6 million, and a significant increase in CPAR ratings, numerous client kudos and social media shout-outs.
- Brokered new corporate partnerships with AWS and scaled agilely.
- Developed strong relationships with clients, prime/sub teaming partners, and technology vendors to grow the business.
- Oversaw a Tier 1/Tier 2 call center support contract, gained experience with HDI best practices.
Agile Delivery Lead
Fannie Mae Common Securitization Solutions JV
- Developed a portfolio of shared services for continuous integration, build-&-release automation, configuration management, release management, code quality, test data generation, architectural POCs, and DevOps.
- Served as a system integration lead and enterprise release manager for a common securitization platform: an industry-wide mortgage securitization utility consisting of ten microservices and three COTS products.
- Established the internal standards and procedures for release management, API versioning, branch management, and code quality management.
- Championed SAFe (scaled agile framework) adoption to scale agility across a fast-growing team.
- Mentored and coached junior scrum masters.
- Managed the implementation of two generations of CI/CD pipeline and the automated CI test suite.
- Facilitated a major data center migration from the Fannie Mae infrastructure to AWS involving 240+ VMs and 50+ environments.
- Served as the first PO/PM for the new data validation rules engine.
- Completed the initial discovery with business stakeholders, created the initial backlog of rules, and worked with the technical lead to estimate them.
- Acted as the PO for the first two (three month) releases, building more than 100 data validation rules using Drools.
- Held several project and program management roles progressively growing in complexity and project size.
- Delivered high-complexity solutions with very high-risk profile and significant financial impact to Fannie Mae.
- Served as a technical program manager of a general ledger and financials analytics re-platforming initiative. The program included a project for implementing a new BI tool and converting the legacy reports.
- Formed and led a team of 15+ people supporting six (6) high-risk enterprise applications and improved the production soundness of the systems by hands-on incident management, and proactive maintenance and risk mitigation.
- Improved the quality and reduced the risk profile of critical projects by implementing proven project management techniques and software development methodologies.
- Led the full-cycle development effort of the Impaired Loans Accounting System for Fannie Mae (20 people, six-month-long project).
- Prepared the project charter and business case, during the discovery phase.
- Defined and prioritized the high-level backlog, estimations, and high-level delivery roadmap.
- Worked closely with the technical lead to staff and mobilize the team, and subsequently build the product.
- Delivered the project in half the time of the original schedule.
- Led three work streams/projects and a team of production support engineers.
- Replanned and rebaselined a failing project, established realistic expectations with the PMO and upper management, executed the remainder of the project on track, delivered 12+ major releases. The project involved a single-family GAGO restatement.
- Cured the riskiest project of a $2-billion Fannie Mae restatement program. The "project" was a series of monthly releases for fine-tuning and rerunning the financial predictive models used to calculate the fair value of a Fannie Mae book of business. (I consider it my first experience PMing an AI/ML project.) The high complexity of the financial models and algorithms and the trial and error nature of the model evaluation and tuning process created a communication and governance gap between the FNMA PMO and the small business unit of financial engineers developing the models.
- Closed the gap and brought the work stream into compliance with all new SoX requirements and PMO target milestone schedules by using my interpersonal and technical (math) skills.
Owner | Freelance Project Manager
- Served as a requirements manager for Freddie Mac.
- Led the BA team through a rewrite of the requirements package for the new-generation pricing system replacing six legacy systems.
- Directed and coached a team of more than ten business analysts in use case writing best practices.
- Piloted the use of wireframe prototypes to visualize user experience and facilitate requirements elicitation.
- Served as a project-management and IT consultant for an international finance corporation.
- Helped a team of international business policy researchers with a number of technology-related challenges.
- Introduced the team to project management concepts and tools for data manipulation and analysis.
- Operated in the role of a senior project manager for the DC Office of the chief technology officer.
- Managed the project for the DC government-wide intranet portal and integrated the Plumtree COTS platform, built custom features and portlets, designed the information architecture, and migrated content to the portal content manager.
Director of IT | IT Specialist | Various Other Roles
- Served as a director IT for the Kerry Company.
- Oversaw and managed the full-cycle delivery of approximately 12 web applications for external clients. My responsibilities included—initial discovery, project scoping and estimation, proposal response, implementation PM oversight, and final client acceptance. The project ranged from case management systems to eCommerce or content management systems—all 12 being data-driven web apps.
- Worked with Doing Business, the first eCommerce site at the World Bank.
- Consulted on Cuyahoga Community College Library's portal.
- Developed a case management system for social workers for the client, Welfare to Work.
- Consulted as an IT specialist for Optimos, Inc.
- Performed various IT support functions such as network administration, desk-side support, application development, and report writing.
- Conducted discovery sessions with the WorldBank client for the Doing Business system: the first eCommerce web system in the bank. My responsibilities included—creating the backlog with functional and non-functional user stories, working with the UX designers to create initial UI concept designs and wireframes, managing the project estimate, release timeline, team composition, and staffing plan, and overseeing the incremental delivery and client acceptance of the entire system.
Enterprise Agile Coaching | SEC
Conducted an SEC agile readiness survey, briefed the CIO on the recommendations, and authored the SEC agile playbook.
For this engagement, I capitalized on my 20 years of experience in project management and seven years as an agilist to help an organization reenvision a new operating and governance model for managing IT projects, moving away from their traditional waterfall framework to a new agile paradigm.
The consulting engagement required communication (interviewing and influencing) at all levels of the organization - from rank-and-file PMs to the CIO. Written materials (presentations, meeting minutes, user stories, Confluence wiki pages, newsletter issues, and 80+ page agile playbook) were also shared with all levels of the organization, passing several levels of reviews and quality checks.
I coached the first formal agile project for building an online catalog system for storing, organizing, and searching metadata for large datasets. The team achieved a record-breaking success for delivering an operational MVP in three months after the start (compared to the 6-9 months for similar-size government initiatives).
Software Delivery Portfolio Management
Oversaw a portfolio of eight federal government programs, 160 personnel, and a $15.5-million yearly budget.
My immediate team consisted of three program managers and six project managers. My organization totaled ~160 people consisting of software engineers and personnel with related skillsets.
All programs were at various levels of agile maturity (depending on the client's maturity and needs). My responsibilities included ensuring continuous learning and improvement of all programs.
Independent of the individual program execution, I chartered and led the formation of the corporate agile, DevOps, and cloud engineering center of excellence, where we developed prototypes and demo solutions.
Achievements in 2017:
• Developed a budget underrun of $1.7 million.
• Generated a net revenue of $1.6 million.
• Facilitated a 25% increase in CPAR (contractor performance assessment reporting) ratings.
• Earned numerous client kudos and social media shout-outs.
The Common Securitization Platform
Served as an agile/SAFe champion, DevOps lead/PO, an integration manager, and release manager.
I joined the team in 2012 as a 1-person scrum team (one microservice and an ESB) and left in 2016, (12 scrum teams, ten event-driven services, an ESB, three supporting unities, two major release branches, and fully automated DevOps processes for cloud deployment).
My role changed, evolved, and grew over four years.
Roles: Product Owner | Integration Lead | Platform Release Manager
• Managed the MVP version of the RulesEngine by planning an XML extension of the MISMO data format and defining and building the initial set for 64 data validation rules.
• Defined the processes and SLAs for fulfilling ops requests, and automating any repeatable requests.
• Drove efficiency and process improvement supporting a team of ~200 developers/testers.
• Established new processes for PI planning, dependency analysis, impact analysis, and integration testing.
• Designed the release management processes, versioning and branching strategy, stakeholder communication, planning, and coordination.
• Championed SAFe adoption for scaling in an agile manner.
Corporate Functions | Production Support
Formed the team, defined the process and procedures, and eased the knowledge and operations transition to an MSP provider.
I managed the operations and provided support for production for Fannie Mae's corporate functions systems. These systems included one PeopleSoft HRMS instance (supporting all HR functions for ~6,000 employees) and five PeopleSoft Financials instances supporting various accounting and financial processes (including the remittance service for ~$20-billion monthly remittances of mortgage service payments).
I segregated and formed an ops team of 12 engineers. I also trained them in ITSM best practices that included developing, documenting, and implementing our standard operating procedures, and ultimately—package and hand-off everything to an external master service provider retained by Fannie (all the while, performing the daily ops duties).
I did not have a single severity-1 incident for approximately one year while in this role.
Impaired Loans Accounting System
Handled the greenfield implementation of a new accounting system for Fannie Mae in only six months.
• Integrated and customized a large COTS accounting package.
• Built pre- and post-processing ETLs.
• Recreated all 20+ interfaces.
• Rebuilt 30+ reports for a 30-person team.
The project had a financial impact of $1.2 billion in impaired loan booking.
Fannie Mae GAGO Restatement
Cured the riskiest project of a $2-billion Fannie Mae restatement program.
The high complexity of the financial models and algorithms, the trial and error nature of the model evaluation, and the tuning process created a communication and governance gap between the FNMA PMO and the small business unit of financial engineers developing the models.
Balancing interpersonal and technical (math) skills, I was able to close the gap and bring the workstream into compliance with all new SoX requirements and PMO target milestone schedules.
Coached and led four teams in incorporating agile and DevOps techniques for solving 4 different AI/ML problems.
Two out of the four solutions required the integration of an ensemble of algorithms for NLP, entity resolution, and photo recognition. (The third was an NLP and unsupervised clustering of corpus data.)
Granted, each solution was small and somewhat synthetic, my teams and I demonstrated a full command of the technologies and processes for delivering ML-enabled solutions in a very short time period.
Developed ~12 small products from scratch for various clients of a small software development services company.
During my tenure, my team developed ~12 different solutions with various levels of complexity. Granted, all of the projects were relatively small and waterfall and developed in technologies from the late 90s/early 2000s. However, I still value this experience tremendously because it allowed me to experience and learn full product development and project management lifecycles—something that very few PMs can claim.
Executive Certificate in Management and Leadership
MIT Sloan Executive Education - Boston, MA, USA
Master of Science Degree in Computer Engineering
Technical University of Sofia - Sofia, Bulgaria
AWS Machine Learning
ICP-ATF (Team Facilitator)
ICP-ACC (Agile Coach)
ITIL v4 Foundations
AWS Solutions Architect Associate
SAFe Program Consultant (SPC4)
PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)
PMI: Project Management Institute
Program Management Professional (PgMP)
PMI: Project Management Institute
Certified Scrum Master
Project Management Professional (PMP)
PMI: Project Management Institute