Interview with Mark Winteringham

In his own words, here‘s a bit about Mark Winteringham:
I am a tester, coach, mentor, teacher and international speaker, presenting workshops and talks on technical testing techniques. I’ve worked on award winning projects across a wide variety of technology sectors ranging from broadcast, digital, financial and public sector working with various Web, mobile and desktop technologies.
I’m an expert in technical testing and test automation and a passionate advocate of risk-based automation and automation in testing practices which I regularly blog about at mwtestconsultancy.co.uk and the co-founder of the Software Testing Clinic. in London, a regular workshop for new and junior testers to receive free mentoring and lessons in software testing. I also have a keen interest in various technologies, developing new apps and Internet of thing devices regularly. You can get in touch with me on Twitter: @2bittester
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Interview with Rosie Sherry

Rosie is founder of Ministry of Testing (www.ministryoftesting.com) and an unschooling mother to 4 amazing children. She use to be a software tester, but now runs the growing Ministry of Testing whilst also unschooling her kids.You can find her on personally on @rosiesherry, RosieLand (www.rosiesherry.com) and UnschoolMe (www.unschool.me).

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Interview with Olof Svedström

Olof Svedström has worked as an engineering lead within software testing and quality at Spotify for 5 years, during a period when he has been part of the journey where they have grown from 5 to 100 million active users and from 150 to 2000+ employees. Before Spotify he spent some years as a tester in a spectrum of companies, ranging from small product ones to international giants.

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Interview with Maria Kedemo

Maria has worked in software development for 15 years with context driven testing as her main focus. She is passionate about learning and coaching and is currently teaching software testing at a 1.5 year vocational education in Sweden. Maria is active on Twitter ( and sporadically blogs (https://mkedemo.wordpress.com). She is also a mentor with Speak easy, a member of ISST and an international conference speaker. She is a bit of a foodie and enjoys lifting heavy things at the gym. 

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Google Hangout Interview with Katrina Clokie

Spent half an hour talking to Katrina about software testing.


Questions include:

  • How did you get into Context Driven Testing?
  • Why do you speak at conferences?
  • What advice would you give to someone who is in the first year of their testing career?
  • What is your biggest achievement of your testing career?
  • What’s the best thing about coaching a team of testers?
  • And what’s the most difficult?
  • What made you decide to start blogging about testing?
  • What do you wish more people knew about software testing?
  • Do you see a problem in the gender ratio in testing?
  • If so, why? If not, why not? If so, how do you suggest we address this?
  • What, do you believe, are the 3 most important traits in a tester?
  • Do you think it’s possible to be a CDT but not Agile? vice versa?
  • I am the only tester in an agile organisation with only developers and POs. How do I get mentored, because most people here do not understand testing.
 

Interview with Shirley Tricker

Shirley Tricker worked in a wide range of IT roles for almost 20 years before starting Elementum, a business that helps people in IT to develop skills, attitudes and habits to be productive and happy in tech roles. Shirley is active in the testing community as an organizer of the Auckland chapter of WeTest, an attendee at the KWST peer conference, and she runs the Auckland Testers Facebook page.She is also co-organiser of the Women in Tech Auckland meetup and she speaks to students via the ICT-Connect programme, which inspires and educates young people about a future in IT. She recently started blogging where she advocates for people to take back control of their careers and work happiness.

 
You’ve been an amazing mentor to not just me, but other people I have worked with. What do you find most rewarding about being a mentor?
I get huge satisfaction from seeing people achieve things they weren’t sure they could, and from helping people to do more of what makes them happy. It’s most rewarding when I see people take what they’ve learnt and help others to do the same.
 
 
And what do you find most challenging about being a mentor?
It’s challenging for me when it’s clear that the person I’m working with has valuable skills and attributes but they don’t see them. When people underestimate themselves I need to find other ways for them to understand their value so that they feel ready to take the steps needed to move towards what they want. I work with some really good people and many of them feel like imposters, so if any of your readers feel like that I’d say that’s a sign that perhaps they’re more talented and capable than they think.
 
What are some of the hardest decisions that testers face in their careers and how do you help them arrive at a decision?
The situation I come across often is testers feeling unfulfilled at work but not knowing if it’s better to stay on in their current company or move somewhere new and uncertain. To help them I try to get to the root of what it is they really want at work and in their life. This will depend on many things including their circumstances and stage of life as well as their skills and experiences and what makes them fulfilled at work and in their personal lives.
We assess if their current company can offer them what they want and if so what steps they need to take to make that happen. People often have more options than they think to improve their situation at their current employer.
If it makes more sense to move to a new company, I make sure they are clear about the value they offer to potential employers and we work together to plan a targeted job search.
What’s one issue you think a lot of testers face, but they don’t realise they’re not alone in this?
In my experience many testers feel at the mercy of poor practices in their workplace but they don’t think they have the power to change things. Maybe they’ve been told that it’s not possible to change, maybe they’re not confident standing up for themselves, or maybe they’re unsure what options they have.
My advice is to avoid merely pointing out what’s wrong. First, aim to understand the issues that contribute to these practices. Having understanding and empathy for other people’s constraints will make discussions about the impacts much friendlier and more useful. If one person feels frustrated it’s likely others do too so find them and work together to think of alternatives. Testers can also research better ways of interacting with the people they need to influence, as well as looking into how other people have made positive changes within their companies.
Testers are ideally placed to help companies to improve, but to do that they need to speak up and work together.
 
In your current role, you help develop people’s soft skills – which soft skills, do you believe, are the most important to develop and why?
Soft skills wrap around our technical skills and help us be effective in our jobs. They affect how we’re perceived and our ability to influence others. They’re called ‘soft’ but they can be quite hard to improve.
Communication is often mentioned as a critical soft skill, and I agree that it’s important that people learn how to present their ideas, listen and write. Since we hear a lot about communication, here are a few other soft skills that I see becoming more and more important.
Collaboration. This involves finding common ground with others, and working together as equal partners. Communication is obviously important for collaboration, but so is respect for the needs and contributions of others, and a willingness to share information and help whenever possible. Being able to collaborate is key in the lean and more iterative software development approaches.
Taking ownership. This is a great skill to develop if you want to be a leader (and there never seem to be enough strong leaders).
Taking ownership means you do things the best you can. We aren’t able to control everything at work, but taking ownership is an attitude and it’s entirely in our control. Be accountable to yourself and your team. Be enthusiastic. Be someone who steps up and takes responsibility. By taking ownership you’ll be more effective and people will be more likely to trust and respect you.

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Interview with Kim Engel

Kim Engel is a software test manager focused on user experience and fostering communication between stakeholders.
She is a regular attendee of the OZWST peer conference, an avid reader and occasional writer of testing blogs, and an infrequent tweeter @kengel100.
Kim is in the process of overcoming 10+ years of traditional testing experience to adopt a Context Driven approach to Testing.

What was the hardest part about the transition from a traditional Test Manager to a Context Driven Test Manager?

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Interview with Aaron Hodder

Aaron Hodder is an experienced and passionate context-driven tester. Before joining Assurity, Aaron worked at Metra Weather as a Test Analyst for the Weatherscape XT product, a weather graphics presentation system used by TV stations nationwide.
Aaron is active in the testing community, having co-founded WeTest, attending the peer conference KWST and presenting at STANZ on using Lean Visual methods to plan and report on testing activities. Aaron will be giving a presentation at CAST 2013 on Mind Maps – A practical, lean, visual tool for test planning and reporting

How did you find yourself being an advocate of Context Driven Testing?

When I started out testing, I was one of three testers in an organisation of around 50 developers. The testing budgets I was given was often in the order of hours or days, not of weeks or months. It was an environment where I put my hand up to be a tester, and now suddenly had to learn what testing actually was. I was very insecure for several months. I was testing in a primarily exploratory manner, and talking directly with developers, but I was worried, after all, the textbooks told me I should be writing test plans, and I should be writing test scripts with expected results, and pre-conditions. But it wasn’t working for me.

To write the test script, I had to interact with the application and learn about it. Then I would write the script. But I had already performed the test I was about to script! At a conference, I timidly approached James Bach, and expressed my concern that I wasn’t testing “by the book”. He responded, “Why would you want to test by the book? The books are wrong!”

At that moment, a door opened, and I realised that I could set up my own sail, and develop my own ideas on what testing could be; that what constituted good testing depends on the context you find yourself in. I started seeing other testers around me in other organisations writing massive test documents and saw it for what it was: mostly ceremonial paper pushing.

It was then I realised there are two futures in my chosen profession. A future in which software testers are interchangeable commodities performing clerical superficial checks and wasting a lot of money, or a future in which software testers are respected and skilled members of a software development team who bring their critical and lateral thinking skills to bear to find problems noone thought about. I know which I want to be a part of, and I try to bring as many people along with me.

I remember when we first met, you had us Grads play the dice game – what do you learn from the dice game that applies to software testing?

I don’t want to give too much away about the dice game, but it teaches that software testing is a process of learning, modelling and testing all happening in parallel. You cannot discover the answer to the dice game with loads of upfront planning and pre-scripted testing; it’s only through a variety of activities happening in parallel can you discover the answer. It also teaches about challenging the constraints of the ‘game’ you’re in (many projects are treated like games, with conditions for ‘winning’ and ‘losing’ and keeping score via bug counts and other silly things). It also demonstrates that testing can be a lot of fun!

What prompted you to start WeTest?

I co-created WeTest with Katrina Edgar. The goal was to unearth testers in the Wellington region with storie and to share those stories with other testers on the front line. It’s to build a local passionate testing community. The important factor with participating in WeTest is that if you are presenting, you must have skin in the game. You must also speak from experience. Then you must accept the challenges and questions from the participants, all of whom are also practitioners.
This wasn’t about talking about theoreticals, this was about sharing real stories. We felt there was a gap for this kind of event. It was also important to us that it remained free for participants; we wanted testers from all experience levels to attend. We want people who may have felt like I did at the beginning of my testing career to realise that they aren’t alone, and to give them the confidence that their feelings and concerns are legitimate. Thanks to the support of Assurity, this event has remained free, and it has gone from strength to strength. Our first half day weekend workshop is coming up in November to mark one year of WeTests.

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

There are several; I’ll give you two.
One, is the constant learning you must do as a tester. Every project has something unique about it which requires you to upskill quickly. Even having to rapidly learning about a new client, and what’s important to them, what they value, all about the problem that this software is supposed to solve, through tot he technical solution before you’ve even considered how you’re going to test it can be very challenging.
The second challenge, and the one most difficult is communicating that the way I test may be different t how you’ve seen others test before. There can be resistance when you suggest that pre-scripting tests upfront may not be the best use of your time, and it’s easy to displace your frustration at those asking for test scripts, rather than those that make money perpetuating the folklore that testing is merely the writing and execution of testing scripts.

What’s your favourite part of being in Testing?

To me, Software Testing is where computer science and social science collide. Working out what people value, then working to give them information that align with their values is incredibly satisfying. I love software development, and I’m glad there’s a role for me in it. Working in software development means you’re exposed to incredibly talents and creative people all working to solve a problem in which often involves creative solutions.

Interview with Michael Larsen

Michael Larsen retired from a career as a rock and roll singer to pursue software testing full time at Cisco Systems in 1992. Larsen has worked for/with a broad array of technologies and industries including virtual machine software, capacitance touch devices, video game development and distributed database and web applications.

For the better part of his career spanning 18 years, Larsen has found himself in the role of being the “Army of One” or “The Lone Tester” more often than not. This unique view point, along with ideas and advocacy regarding continuous education and learning/re-learning for testers, is frequently the grist of the mill for TESTHEAD

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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.