My first conference since TestBash in 2015 and I had genuinely forgotten the buzz that these events provide. There was a real sense of community, I made some new contacts, caught up with people I had met before and generally networked with everyone who would talk to me.
On top of that, I would also be giving my first talk on the 2nd day, something which typically, I had spent the week or so before stressing about it, but I really shouldn’t have worried.
There were some great talks which I really felt I learnt a lot from and others which have inspired me to do more of this!
Here are some of the talks which really stood out for me:
Christina Ohanian – Growing a Testing community of practice and navigating ‘traditional’ mindsets”
Christina’s keynote really set the tone for the two days. She talked about her journey to where she is now which included some of the hurdles which resonate with me. Hurdles such as the perception that testers are responsible for quality, testers are just there to find bugs and that everything needs to be automated. She gave hope that these hurdles can be overcome and also that working on the concept of a Community of Practice can really help convince some of the ‘old-fashioned’ mindsets which may be blocking progress. I’m hoping to start an internal Community of Practice for Testing and will be using ideas from Christina’s talk to help me get there.
Ali Hill – Learning to Become a More Technical Tester
Ali presented his first conference talk and went through the path that has brought him to his current role at Craneware. It was impressive to see the effort he has gone through to ensure he had the right skills to do his role, especially given he came from a background of a non-technical degree. Ali shared the steps he had taken to become more technical, including getting involved in the Automation Strategies, learning to code enough to help with the API testing, working on Performance testing and having monitoring in the production environment. The key points he made was really about finding allies and pacing yourself, these are key messages which anyone should consider when learning a new skill.
Isabel Evans – Leadership, Fellowship and Followship
Isabel’s keynote at the start of the second day set the positive tone for the day, it touched on some topics around how we could be made to feel in our teams as a tester and used examples of different animals to explain team dynamics. She also talked about the different types of followers and leaders, which I intend to use with my team to find out how we all fit together.
Isabel had a great way of explaining some of the tough issues and touched on mental health issues within work and it was very inspirational to hear her stories of how she has coped in difficult situations.
I also enjoyed talks from Richard Paterson where he talked about convincing people to share stories if they have something to share about Testing as too many people find every excuse not to. James Lyndsay’s hands on session was engaging while understanding the “Basic Pathologies of a simple system”. Marianne Duijst’s enthusiasm during her talk was just phenomenal and the concept of the 24hr Innovation event is something I would certainly love to try. I also loved the concept of the Conversation Track, I attended Yann and Viktor’s session on the Monday and thought the concept and the presentations were great. I especially related to Viktor’s talk aboth the Testing Survival as alot of the issues he mentioned (lack of documentation, having to automate everything etc), were things that are regularly being lived by many teams all over the world.
Both workshops I attended were engaging and I felt like I learned something new – Christina Ohanian and Nicola Sedgwick’s on Day 1 and Isabel Evans’ on day two. Both these provided the opportunity to work in groups with others and get a chance to talk to new people.
Then there was my talk… Part of a conversation track with Joel Montvelisky, I had spent some time with Joel before the conference and also attending the London Tester Gathering on the Monday night to see him talk. Joel is a great presenter and really enthusiastic about Testing and particularly the concepts of Modern Testing.
I loved presenting my topic, and hope my enthusiasm for raising awareness came through. I believe the general reaction was positive and I certainly had a lot of comments and questions which suggested to me, it’s a topic which needs exploring further. The key sticking points which were suggested were that we maybe shouldn’t just be looking at University students as some delegates said, they never attended university and they have since had a successful career. The other point to make was that the skills suggested for #MakeATester were all soft skills and a University would find these difficult to teach. This is something which needs more exploration, but having completed the talk, I have a few more people willing to work with me to keep raising the awareness.
The conference was a great experience and I really can’t thank the organisers enough for asking me to talk and giving me the chance to fuel my passion of continuous learning and growing my knowledge for my career.