Dec 31

2016 – Year in Review

Another year gone by and I’m glad to say that it’s been another great year of learning, overcoming challenges, achieving many goals, and doing some great, challenging, purposeful work. Sure just like every year, there were tough days, but even those days offer things to learn from. It’s been a very rewarding year on the testing side of things. I continue to work hard, and be the honest, transparent, ethical professional I take great pride in being. I continue to read, write, engage in productive conversations with some very smart and awesome people. On the blog front, I didn’t write as much as I would’ve liked to, but that wasn’t due to less learning happening, but rather me celebrating and being occupied by things on the personal end of things.

Technical side of things

This year I started worked with XCode, and different SDK’s to help test and deliver mobile applications for iOS and Android platforms. I also started working again with the command line after not using it much for the past few years. I got to see more C++ code, see and understand some Python code, understand Git a little better, fetch code commits to build iOS and Android applications locally. I also learned different ways to build applications pointing to mock servers running on my machine and how to mock different data that the application uses to allow me to test different scenarios and situations. I made better use of different tools such as Charles, Wireshark, iOS Console, DDMS, and others to help me test the integration of the different components and services that our applications use. I had the opportunity to test analytics, which enhanced my knowledge of analytics as I got to work with and test different services including Google, Adobe, and Apteligent. I continued to work on some very technical things that required me to do some research and learn more about the technology that I was testing. I continued to figure stuff out – and had fun while doing so.

Testing and leadership side of things

I am a very hands on Test Lead, and I work very closely with developers as part of an Agile team – it’s something I enjoy and look for in a workplace. I’m very glad I have it. I also lead, coach, and mentor a small group of software testers. This year I’ve done more workshops for my teams than any other year. My workshops this year covered many topics including mind maps, different ways a mind maps can be put together, test coverage, test reporting, exploratory testing, and testing missions. My workshop style is very engaging, and highly participatory for the attendees. I like everybody to be involved, to participate, and contribute – the goal is for active learning to take place. I always considered my audience when giving any workshop or training, and I’ve learned that different people have different learning styles and will learn at different paces – that is okay.

As part of my coaching duties, I also see that different members of my team learn in different ways, and that as a coach, its important for me to tailor my techniques to help different members for my team learn and improve how they’re doing things. I’m doing a lot of teaching, but I’m also getting to learn a lot while doing it. And most importantly, I am enjoying it – working with a small team of testers willing and able to learn is a big responsibility but a rewarding one as well. My job in leading the team is to help each member of my team learn, reach their goals, and become a better tester, and work together to help the team become better, more skilled, and better suited to add more value in different ways as a well-oiled test team.

2017 …

So with 2017 right around the corner, I want to continue doing great work, enhancing my technical knowledge both on the mobile and automation front, being an even better leader for the team and helping them reach new heights. I will try to blog more than I did last year – I have so much to write about! I also plan on getting more involved on the VR side of things, and may tweet and write some stuff about testing VR. I would like to attend CAST2017, so I’ll work on making that happen. I may finally enrol in the BBST Bug Advocacy course. With the course being offered twice during the year, my schedule the past few years hasn’t allowed me to do so yet. And most importantly, I’ll continue to have fun doing what I love to do.

 

Jan 08

2014 – My Year in Review

2014…

So here we are, a few days into the new year – eight days to be exact.  I haven’t written in a while, it’s been almost six months!  I have been reading though, reading a lot, and that re-energizes my mind and puts me in the zone to write.  After the amazing, unreal, AWESOME year I had in 2013, I went into 2014 pumped and full of energy.  The first ever Montreal Insights Into Software Testing workshop & peer conference – MOIIST2014 was just around the corner, I had started a new job a few weeks earlier, and I had plans to continue my testing accomplishments and learning from where I left off.

In January, we held the first ever Montreal Insights Into Software Testing (MOIIST2014) workshop & peer conference.  I had put in a great deal of effort in the months leading up to the workshop to help organize it and it was well worth it.  The workshop was great – I did my first presentation at a Software Testing event and met some awesome Testers, both from Montreal and Testers who attended from out of town, not to mention the chance to hang out and chat with Rob and Scott.

Plans can and do sometimes change

I had a lot of other plans for 2014 – to continue on that great road of Software Testing awesomeness from 2013, and the MOIIST2014 workshop – but in life things happen and plans sometimes get postponed due to circumstances and priorities.  The first half of the year was exceptionally tough, but I was able to stay optimistic, make decisions I needed to make (which turned out to be great decisions) and I’m happy to say that the second half of the year was great!  But before things could change and get better, they got tough (and negative) and I ended up learning quite a bit from the experience.

What I learned

In one sentence – it’s never too early to leave a job if you’re unhappy.  I was hired by a Test Manager with whom I wanted to work and a great team of fellow Test Lead’s and Testers (in western Canada).  I was hired to work at the office just outside of Montreal. I never thought the distance and not being in the same office would present the types of issues and challenges that it did – none of us did.  When the individuals (especially the leadership group) at the local office where you’re hired to work do not want you there – no matter how great of a professional, tester, and person you are, no matter the things you do to make things work and change their perception – it won’t make a difference, you’re not wanted – period (that held true in my situation).  It’s 2014 and the world is as connected and collaborative as ever, but in some toxic environments (like the office environment and location I was in) you can’t stop negative, backwards thinking.  I don’t regret taking the opportunity, I learned a ton working with my fellow Testers out in western Canada but I do regret staying in such a hostile, discriminative environment for the duration I did stay (I stayed a few months but should have left in a few weeks).

Now even though the aforementioned experience was a negative one – I always look for lessons learned and I took away some really positive and important lessons that have made me more aware and knowledgeable.  I learned more about myself as a person and as a professional and experienced first-hand what I had always known, what I stood for, and what I believed in – that my self respect and dignity was more important than a paycheque (especially one coming from a toxic environment).

I learned that sometimes it’s worth taking that bold risk and leaving a negative situation without that safety net to fall into – which is what I did. I also learned that when interviewing for a job where your manager and/or team will be in another location, its extremely important to meet (in person) the individuals with whom you will work with locally in the same office, including the leadership group. It’s especially important to speak with those in the leadership group to get a feel for how they work, the environment and atmosphere they promote, how they view testing & their goals regarding development & testing and collaborating with the team(s) located in different offices/cities.  I would take the time to ask about their philosophy and if they are actually in-tune with the testing approach being taught and encouraged from the leadership group (the ones hiring you) in another location.  There’s a lot that can be learned by taking the time to do that, and may also help you make a good decision by listening to your gut feeling.

Getting back on track

Once I made the bold decision to leave with no safety net to fall into – everything (professionally and personally) started to change – I was happy, full of energy and things started getting back on track!  While I had a plan, I didn’t have another job lined up (and that can be a scary thing considering bills, house etc.) – but I had/have confidence, optimism, and my testing skill-set that I am always working on expanding. It was a bold risk I took and I’m happy I took it. Things fell quickly back into place and I enjoyed the second half of the year much more at my “new” job and was having fun outside of work, and was also able to focus my energy on learning more about software testing once again and doing the things I enjoyed doing.

Wait – what about those plans?

There were a few plans and goals I had for 2014 that I wasn’t able “execute” in my roller coaster of a year. After CAST2013 (after which I was so pumped up to attend the next CAST), I wasn’t able to attend CAST2014 as I had planned too.  I can’t get that back but I will be at CAST2015!  After successfully completing the BBST Foundations course in 2013 I had planned to take the BBST Bug Advocacy course but with everything going on and the course schedule, it just didn’t pan out.  On the plus side, I am going to take the course this year and I’m looking forward to the learning experience and challenge!

Ending off the year

I ended off the year happy, relaxed and reading a book on the beautiful beaches of Varadero, Cuba.  I feel refreshed, energized, and extremely focused (professionally and personally) starting off this new year.  While I still progressed as a Software Tester in 2014, it wasn’t the type of progress and “jump” I experienced in 2013 – which is okay.  I learned a lot of valuable lessons as a professional and as a human being from the negative situation I found myself in.  I learned to turn things around and that only I had the power to do so.  While I try not to live with regrets, if I could go back and do things a bit differently I would – but knowing that now, is a part of what learning is about.

KMF – 2015 here I come!