Excellence at Excella

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          “Initiative, Flexibility, and Passion,” these are the three qualities that come to mind when Margaret Archer, Manager at the local Extension Center for Virginia based Excella Consulting, considers the top qualities of ideal student team-members. The attributes are fitting. Mrs. Archer and her team have made good use of initiative, flexibility, and passion on their quick rise from just an idea into a full-fledged, project completing entity – all in only a year. I was fortunate enough to acquire a front row view as our resident Quality Guild members, Dr. Bailey and Mrs. Kylie Goodell, conducted a meeting with one of Quest’s newest potential corporate sponsors.

          As I watched and listened to Mrs. Archer and Joe, her in-house software developer, I felt an emergence of the “shining eyes” affect coined in a popular TED talk by composer Benjamin Zander*. They each spoke with spellbinding conviction when sharing the tale of their transformation in the past year: their struggles, their successes, and their collaborations with UMD faculty and students. To steal a phrase from Tony Robbins, it is clear that the Extension Center is nestled in a “positive upwards spiral.” Day by day, they are drawing closer towards their objective of providing more software and consulting services to their Washington D.C. clients.

          In the midst of this dash to the forefront, the Excella Extension Center team remains focused on building relationships with University staff and alumni and providing student team-members with one of their most valuable assets: their keen insight on the process of software development and consulting. As Dr. Bailey quipped, “coding is a contact sport!” With Joe as their coach, student team members are engaged in a learning intensive process for iterative, test-driven software development.

          It was a pleasure to see up close one of the results of scoping and the actions that the Quality Guild takes on our behalf to create mutually beneficial corporate relationships. Oh, and to paraphrase, here’s nugget of advice from Mrs. Archer herself, “Business majors…take tech courses.”

*You can view the “shining eyes” TED talk here

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