Interview with Nadine Henderson

Nadine is responsible for Assurity’s HR, recruitment and graduate recruitment. She plays a key role in helping to drive the company into its next stage of growth.
Her strong background in IT recruitment – she worked as HR Manager at Intergen for three years – gives her the knowledge and know-how to recruit the best people in New Zealand

1. What do you like about working in IT?
While I don\’t officially work in IT, I do work in the IT industry and I really like enjoy that I get to work with people that have passion that oozes for what they do!  The people tend to be very clever, and like minded in that they have a natural tendency to what to know more, do better, get their hands dirty (so to speak!).   The IT professionals I work with are different to other professionals, and not in the stereotypical way!
2. What do you look for in a software tester?
The things mentioned above!  I love seeing people that love what they do, they almost have a spark in their eye when you ask about a particular tool/project/methodology – so having that enthusiasm and passion for testing is great to see.
Communication and client facing skills are extremely important in any consultancy.  Our employees are representing the company out on client site, so its essential that they do it well and to a high standard.
We also want people that have ambitions to develop their careers, training and development is something we encourage, so having people that naturally want to do this means we can work alongside them to reach their goals.
Culture fit is a biggie at our work – to have this means people should tick all the boxes mentioned above for starters.  They should get along well with others in the workplace and want to get involved in our many extra activities offers (e.g Toastmasters, Social engagements, Learning groups etc).
3. When you were at uni, did you see yourself working as the People and Culture Advisor at a Software Testing Consultancy?
Not in my wildest dreams!  I had no idea what I wanted my career to be when going through Uni, and I kind of fell into IT recruitment before also moving into the HR/People and Culture side of things.  Very happy with how things have panned out though!
4. Where do you see software testing heading in 5 years?
Probably somewhere we haven\’t even thought of yet!  But in the shorter term, say the next 2 – 3 years, I think Agile/Lean will start becoming a lot more common practise in Testing.
5. What’s the coolest thing you’ve learnt since you started at Assurity?
That I work for a company that isn’t just awesome at what it does, but a company that delivers on what it promises and that caring for its staff isn’t just a ‘catch phase’ they throw around, its something they live and breathe.

Interview with Markus Gaertner

Markus Gaertner has been a software tester since 2006 and is located in Germany. Personally committed to Agile methods, he believes in continuous improvement in software testing through skills. Occasionally he presents on Agile and testing related conferences. He is a black-belt tester and instructor in the Miagi-Do school of software testing, and a co-founder of the European chapter of Weekend Testing.

1. For those of us who are not familiar with the Miagi-Do School of Testing, can you tell us a little about it?

Initially Miagi-Do served as a filtering mechanism for people who really wanted to excel in their craft. As more and more people reached out to Matt Heusser for helping them advance, he figured, he needed to sort out the people that really mean from the ones that want quick and cheap answers. We solve this problem by giving out testing challenges. The ones that follow up on it are the ones we would like to work with.

Since I took the first challenge, we have grown a bit. Initially only mouth-to-mouth communication served the purpose. Right now we have a blog set up, and even communicate more to the outside world about the stuff we are doing.

You can think of Miagi-Do as the secret Fight Club from the movie with the same name. We are hard to find, we are sort of a secret club, and we really care about the stuff we are doing. From my perspective Miagi-Do is an apprenticeship model that seems to work at growing the next generation of software testers. We are not so sure about the scaling thing, though, that Cem Kaner mentioned in a recent blog entry.

2. What attracted you to software testing in the first place?

Seriously, I sent my resume in for a position in the release management department. I got invited to a job interview. In the job interview I was told I am interviewing for the position of a software tester. I got the job, I started, and found myself in a testing group leader position 18 months later.

It was not so much an attraction. It was more that I wanted to do work after finishing my time at the university. I started my job, started to like it, found out that I always had this nitpicky element in me all my life. That\’s when I started to like the stuff I was doing, and grow from there.

3. What’s the most difficult challenge you face as a software tester?

Right now, I am involved with lots of companies with traditional testers. With the changes of team-based software development, our industry faces a serious problem. Since decades we have been in the role of fighting for the quality in our products, we have been the last line of defense for the customer, and now we need to learn how to contribute to a group of people that we found was our enemy for the past decades.

This is a cultural change we need to overcome.

As a software tester that means that we have to find how to become a first-class citizen. A few years back I found myself in the “you are too slow”, “we need to deliver this stuff” sort of trap. Eventually I found out that our automated tests demanded too much maintenance. We were able to replace the crap we had “grown” over the period of one year within 18 weeks by using a new approach, using elements from the Agile and XP world, and considering test automation as software development. After we took these steps we were able to serve the project instead of slowing it down. That was the time when my team was seen as first-class citizens. As an industry we still need to learn that lesson, reach out to more testers, and help them become more valuable to the projects and the companies we are working in.

4. Where do you see software testing going in the next 5 years?
Oh, I am really bad at this. So don’t bet on any of these words.

To me the next step involves growing communities. Right now we are sort of separated in different schools of thought, as James Bach calls them. We have the school of thought where testers are seen more as a replaceable resource, we have the community around the Agile development methodologies, and we have a community around the context-driven school.

In the next five years we might not be able to reach common ground on our differences and commonalities, but I think we need to exchange our thoughts. Over time we might be able to find ways develop better products to start. Once software development as the larger industry is able to reliably produce code that works, we will find out that we need to fill in new roles, different roles, and find new frontiers.

5. When your friends (outside of IT) ask you “What do you do as a software tester?”, what do you tell them?

Seriously, they never ask that. I sense a problem there. In German, there is a word called “fremdschämen”. That means to be ashamed for someone else.
Most of the time conversations start with: “What do you do for a living?”
“I am a software tester.”

In that silence you can feel “fremdschämen” if you look for it.

From my perspective this has to do with the outside view to our profession. What really bothers me about that is whether we are helping the outside view improve by fighting with each most of the times.

I don’t have an answer for that.