Interview With Ajay Balamurugadas

Ajay Balamurugadas, goes by the handle ‘ajay184f’ in the testing community and is continuously re-inventing his testing methodology. He co-founded Weekend Testing – a worldwide movement for skilled testing, authored multiple books available at bit.ly/booksaj and bit.ly/ajleanpub.

His friends associate the terms – ‘Change Agent, Idea Man, Motivational’ to him. He tweets under @ajay184f and loves to have long conversations on software testing and life in general. He is currently working at GSPANN Technologies, Inc. as Senior Director – QE. When not testing, he spends time with his wife and two children.

What inspired you to start the Happy Book Reading Club?

I love reading books. As work became a bit too hectic, I lost the joy of book reading but that did not stop me from buying more books. With so many unread books, I had to force my way to start loving book reading again - to get back to that habit. And then it struck me - what if I summarize a book every weekend and get people to pay me (accountability factor). When 8 people expressed interest in the first 24 hours, I got the money and then was now forced to summarize a book :) This continued for a few sessions and slowly due to the consistent habit, I fell in love with book reading again. Now, we have crossed 75 sessions of book reading after starting in Aug 2020.

The journey is awesome. Imagine 15+ members waking up early on a Saturday morning just to attend and network with like minded people :) You can know more about Happy Book Reading here.

You co-founded Weekend Testing - what’s been your proudest moment in that initiative?

I feel every weekend testing session made me feel good. There are many moments - hard to pick the proudest moment.

Right from completing our first session to Fiona Charles writing about us to getting our article published in Better Software Magazine to expanding to multiple chapters and having legends like Dr. Cem Kaner, Michael Bolton, James Bach, Dr. Meeta Prakash, Jon Bach spend time with us. It was awesome.

Even now, when we have a session, I feel a similar excitement.

I imagine you’ve learned a lot from the mistakes in your career, considering you wrote a book on the topic. Which mistake was the hardest to learn from or recover from?

Taking care of health and saying no to newer opportunities were the hardest lessons. In my initial years, sleep took a backseat, my posture took a hit and I used to say yes to almost anything and everything even though I knew that my plate was overflowing.

In recent years, I am learning to focus on health, rest and existing commitments before saying yes to more work.

For budding conference speakers, what advice do you have for them?

Record yourself speaking, play back the recording with a mentor and learn how you can improve. The stronger the hold on a topic, the easier it is easy to present. So, prepare well. Once you have prepared well, it comes down to practice. Some of the heuristics have been shared in the book - Heuristics For Effective Public Speaking.

You wrote a blog post on chrome browser extensions and also have a section on it in your book. Can you share one or two browser extensions that would be useful for testing that you’ve found a lot of people haven’t heard of?

You can find more at Ultimate Productivity Toolkit.

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