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Danny Ryan:Hello, and welcome to the Work Together Better podcast. Today we have a real treat for you. We’re catching up with our good friend Tricia Mercaldo Mercaldo. Tricia, how are you doing?


Tricia Mercaldo:I’m doing great, thank you.


Danny Ryan:Great. Wonderful to see you. Tommy, sorry I skipped over the, the intro of my cohost Tommy Ryan. Everybody knows him as the other ball brother is here with me as well. How are you doing Tom?


Tommy Ryan:Nice and shiny.


Tricia Mercaldo:Yeah, that’s right. Can you not move your head that way? No, just kidding.


Danny Ryan:And just to let you know, Tricia Mercaldo in our hearts, you’ll always be number one, but we did do one of these videos slash podcast with someone else before this.


Tricia Mercaldo:Yeah, I’m aware. I’m aware, but I’m good being number two as well. It seems to be my to be my lot in life, but it’s better than last, that’s all.


Danny Ryan:Just as long as, Alan doesn’t rib you about it or anything like that. You’ll always be number one to us.


Tricia Mercaldo:Okay, thank you. Thank you for that.


Danny Ryan:So I’m excited cause we haven’t caught up in a while and I want to find out what you’ve been up to and just find out what’s been going on with you recently.


Tricia Mercaldo:I’ve moved over to Advanced Auto Parts located in Raleigh, North Carolina. I’ve been here for 10 weeks, but who’s counting? Seems like a few years already, if that tells you anything. I went from a much slower pace than academia on the business side. I’ve moved back into IT, but in the PMO. So the exciting part about Advanced Auto Parts at this moment in time that we have new C Levels and we’re restructuring the entire organization.


Danny Ryan:Oh.


Tricia Mercaldo:The company is making significant investment in not only technology updates and refresh, but we call it leap frogging.


Danny Ryan:Oh, okay.


Tricia Mercaldo:It’s a very exciting time to be here. It’s a difficult time, because everything is being transformed. While they’re rebuilding a true PMO, introducing Agile to the organization and trying to get all the standards in place, we’re also managing very large portfolios of projects. I’m responsible for HR projects, finance projects, and supply chain. And we’re combining our different banners into one with all of those. We just recently went live with Workday across the board, combining all the different banners that used to be totally separate. We’re working on an Oracle ERP finance transformation where again, everybody has their own ERP and we’re combining those to one. And supply chain the same thing, we have 40 plus distribution centers and we’re going to one warehouse management system. And that’s just the beginning. So it’s exciting. It’s a lot. But it’s super fun and I’m enjoying kind of being back in the IT part of it, but not being responsible for a particular technology, which is kind of different for me too.


Danny Ryan:How does collaboration fit into what you’re doing now? I guess it sounds like you’re working with a lot of different moving parts with this.


Tricia Mercaldo:Indeed. So the interesting thing is, coming into yet another company, we have tools, we have Teams, people are using Teams.


Danny Ryan:Microsoft Teams, like what we’re using right now?


Tricia Mercaldo:Microsoft Teams, yeah.


We have Microsoft 365, but we’re just using email.


Danny Ryan:Okay.


Tricia Mercaldo:We have four different versions of SharePoint happening. You know, the usual and that the value of those collaboration tools is not being leveraged across the organization. So, while it is not exactly my job at this particular moment, you know that I’m very anxious to get people to use those. So I’m already working with a couple of people to build out our IT, PMO SharePoint site …


Danny Ryan:Nice.


Tricia Mercaldo:… so that we can show people what we are here to do, how the process will work, those kinds of things as well as an internal PMO site. We have a kind of an older, maybe 2010 site, but everything is locked down. Nobody can see things, nobody can find things that set for the two people who built it, right? So trying to change that mindset and show the value of the tools that you’re already paying for. I can’t get that out of my system, so … Trying to stay out of trouble. I have plenty to do, but I guess leveraging those tools I think is really important for where we’re trying to head.


Danny Ryan:You’ve, you’ve seen the impact of what goes on across the entire organization when people are given and enabled with these tools. And so I’m sure that’s a part of … but I think it’s really great you’re in the PMO because you know what’s you’re able to … you know, you’re part of the coordination of a lot of these projects.


Tricia Mercaldo:Right, right. It’s fantastic in that … and the really great part is from the board level, the CEO and all the other C Levels all the way through the organization, they’re very supportive of the transformation. So being in this place in the PMO, I do have the opportunity to influence better use of some of these tools. It’s exciting.


Danny Ryan:Now, with Work Together Better why I like the term is, it has to do also with process. Since you were mentioning earlier how we’re working together within these large organizations is really important and and progressing the way that we do work together. Now you said you guys are starting to use more Agile processes or what, what’s going on right now? I’ve got three or four follow up questions for you. It goes with the process.


Tricia Mercaldo:Don’t ask me any hard questions and make me look bad but …


Danny Ryan:We wouldn’t do that to you.


Tricia Mercaldo:So the portfolio that I have, they’re pretty large and they’re going to take a while. And so we’re using the waterfall approach with those. With some of our customer facing in the merchandising areas and we’re building out a data lake as well. So in those areas we’re hiring more people with Agile background, and some of the teams are kind of already going there. Not 100%, but they’re starting to get Scrum Masters certified …


Danny Ryan:Good.


Tricia Mercaldo:… bring them on board and actually start using the Agile methodology. As you know, that’s a tough transition in itself to get people to think differently. In the PMO we actually have been having some training sessions with all the project managers and you will watch the project managers get very anxious when they hear that the Agile methodology, you don’t really have a project manager anymore. You have product owners and Scrum Masters and other roles. And so, we’re just in the beginning discussions with that transformation in addition to all the other transformation. So it’s a little scary but very exciting at the same time. So, getting there.


Danny Ryan:Yeah, and I think it’s an opportunity for people that have done traditional project management to learn something new and that can be …


Tricia Mercaldo:Right.


Danny Ryan:… exciting or it could be a little bit scary. And we have found with the Scrum Masters that we’ve had [ missing audio 00:09:11] … with more command and control project managers that like to structure it in a certain way.


Tricia Mercaldo:Yup.


Danny Ryan:And they had a hard time moving to Agile, but some of them were able to make that move over into more of an assertive leader role of you’re facilitating and letting the team self organize. And that feels sometimes irresponsible as a project manager. So I think there’s a lot of challenge to the mindset of people that have done in a traditional project manager for a long time. But I think there’s a lot of common sense that I think very good project managers will realize the value for certain types of projects where scrum’s going to be a better fit for the business.


Tricia Mercaldo:Yep. Yeah. Especially on the customer facing side, right? Then you can start to deliver something very quickly that people see the difference and it’s just a transformation for the entire culture here. Advanced Auto Parts is kind of an older company. Carquest, it was a well established company. WORLDPAC and Autoparts International, those are our primary banners. They were all kind of established in their own way already. And so pushing those four banners together and then introducing all these new ways of working at the same time, is a lot for people who’ve been here for awhile. But there are people who are beginning to embrace it. But project managers in particular are going to have a challenge with the … [missing audio.00:11:05]


Danny Ryan:We had a, yesterday had an internal discussion, I actually got a couple of folks involved from within three. Well, the term that’s being used nowadays is digital workplace. So it’s sort of like the place where work gets done. And it really, it comprises not only your intranet. Is sort of all the backend systems. It’s everything. It’s where people are going to inside of larger, or midsize larger organizations to go get that work done. It sounds like you, as you’re coordinating these different projects, that’s a part of what you’re doing is having to integrate these different systems together, talk about how they fit together and, and how are they going to be consumed in the end as well?


Tricia Mercaldo:Right. So the interesting thing about here is, you have your corporate entities, the office workers, if you will, but the bulk of our employees, somewhere around 70, 80,000 people are in stores and distribution centers. And so, as we go through this transformation, keeping in mind the impact to those people is super critical. There’s a huge network upgrade happening across all of the stores and the distribution centers. Some of these groups as we move to cloud based products, like Workday for example, if the pipes aren’t big enough from the store, I can go get my payslip at the same time my manager is running a report. And I can’t make a sale at the store cause I’m using all of that. So it’s a very interesting mix of challenges to get that piece right. And to build trust and collaboration with the people who are selling the product directly to our customers and doing the corporate thing. So collaboration takes on a new meaning when you consider the different levels across the organization and each one being as important as the next.


Danny Ryan:One of the other things we were talking about yesterday is the concept of inner loop conversation. So the things that you’re working with the small team to go get things done. And then the outer loop is sort of outside that team. It could be anybody from like other departments to outside the company and you know, people you’re working with outside the company. And just how those two things are progressing. I’m interested to hear, you mentioned you’re using some of Microsoft Teams. Is that primarily for that inner loop type if you’re going and working on projects together to use Teams with? Is that, is that what you’re using it for?


Tricia Mercaldo:Mostly I’ve seen it you for instant messaging.


Danny Ryan:Yeah.


Tricia Mercaldo:So, as I mentioned earlier, we’re not really leveraging the tools that we have to really build that collaboration. So have Jabber but people aren’t using that for instant messaging. They’re using Teams and there are a couple of development group who are using Teams as a, you know, a real team. But I haven’t observed very good use of Teams as it’s supposed to be used outside of instant messaging. So, opportunities abound.


Tommy Ryan:It’s exciting.


Danny Ryan:Yeah. Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. Well this has been great to catch back up and I don’t want to hold you away from, you’ve got a date night tonight. Correct?


Tricia Mercaldo:That’s right, Valentine’s night early.


Danny Ryan:Happy Valentine’s Day to you.


Tricia Mercaldo:Thank you.


Danny Ryan:And I know I also want, you know, love to catch up even more so I’ll follow up later on as well. I know this is just a short conversation here, but really appreciate your time and staying in touch and say hello to Alan and, and thank you for doing this, Tricia.


Tricia Mercaldo:Thank you so much.


Danny Ryan:Absolutely. Thank you everybody for listening and have a wonderful day. Bye Bye.



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