The wait to experience the conference was finally over this morning as I walked into the swish venue of World Forum. From the word go, I could sense the amazing level of organisation behind this event! Be it the expos for the sponsors, the talks / sessions, the various activities for huddle – the planning and execution seemed to be immaculate! A small team of 13 young management professionals seemed to be weaving magic and brilliantly orchestrating this massive event.
Opening Note by the EuroSTAR chair
The first of the sessions started at the magnificent auditorium at World Forum which was truly befitting for a conference of this scale. Programme Rikard started his opening note with introducing his fellow programme committee members. He then made all of us look for the playing card he had included in the conference registration pack and explained the how he wanted us to use it as a starting point to talk to complete strangers. He said that the key element of conferences is interaction with each other and sometimes you need ice breakers which he hoped people would achieve using the cards. He also went on to elaborate how the theme of ‘je ne sais pas’, which translates to ‘I don’t know’ is an important position for testers. He felt not knowing is what leads to questioning and challenging which is at the core of the role we play.
Key Note Speech
Alan Richardson, one of the stalwarts of testing world took to the stage next and delivered a highly engaging talk about ‘Exploring Testing from First Principles’. He started the premise around how we tend to over complicate the definition of testing and in the process get overwhelmed. He suggested simplification and building our own interpretation of what testing means to us. He elaborated the idea of how a tester can a bit of a scientist, a skeptic, a believer or a seeker. No matter which definition of testing we personally believe in, the most important aspect is to ask good questions.
Track session 1 – Competence is all about sharing
This session was of immense interest to me as I have experienced the challenge of building testing competency in big organisations is something I have been a part of many times and continue to do so. Highly seasoned speaker Ruud Teunissen, who has been a chair for EuroSTAR conference in the past, delivered a session with great impact about the four key aspects of building competence in teams – Developing a common understanding of big picture, communicating it to the multi-disciplinary teams, lining up local champions to drive changes and empowering the team with required support / resources. With many examples from implementations, he explained the importance of sharing and how this is key to building any capability within organisations.
Track session # 2 – You have the Right to Remain Private! Testing for Identity Privacy and Rights
Having met the young speaker from Romania at the huddle space earlier in the day, I decided to attend this session about testing for GDPR requirements. It was interesting to note the relevance of questioning why a given piece of information being taken from a user and how important it is to clearly explain to the user the reason for collecting a specific personal information. For example, why is date of birth being expected instead of a tick box to confirm whether the person being above 18? With a demo of a banking software he is currently working on, he showed how it is important to have information provided with every field of an online form to establish the purpose for requiring that personal data about the customer. He also highlighted the importance of a person’s right to erasure from a system. His session led to some interesting questions around how there can be regulatory requirements around holding on to transactions (for audit purposes) and whether deleting the records would impinge on such specifications. This topic clearly has an ethical element to it which the participants appreciated.
Networking event – Community dinner
This fabulous sit down meal at the Madurodam was truly memorable for many reasons. The venue of the world famous miniature city, the company of testers and a relaxed atmosphere made it utterly enjoyable. A young man Lukas who is currently the mayor of Madurodam (as it is treated as a city) addressed all of us. He highlighted the many initiatives they undertake for children’s causes and how the organisation supported key children’s charities. He also highlighted relevant innovation is in Madurodam to achieve progression. Conference Programme chair Rikard Edgren emphasised the importance of community and how it is not just about human nature to be social but also about how important it is for functioning effectively as testers. He shared his personal experience of how a lot of his learning as a young tester came from discussions with colleagues. There were indeed plenty opportunities to get to know people which the delegates made the most of. A sumptuous three course meal was served, followed by an opportunity to visit the Madurodam miniature city which was an amazing experience. The level of detail in those structures is unbelievable and left us awe stuck.
The day ended on that note and I was filled with ideas, thoughts and discussions I had throughout the day. The many people I met left me thinking about so many aspects of testing which I will share in my later blogs. For now, it is time to get some more action from the day 3 of the conference.