When I was given the brand new role of a reporter for the UKSTAR 2018, it felt like a blank sheet of paper. As there has been no reference for how anyone else had done it, I decided to give my own touch to this role and put on the hat of a journalist in all seriousness. I went about speaking to as many people as possible in the conference, which was one of the most interesting activities I have done till date! This role gave me a great excuse to speak to complete strangers, learn more about them or their role and also gain some insight into what they were looking for in the conference. So here as part of my UKSTAR 2018 review is a summary of my conversations:
Variety of Roles
The variety of roles I witnessed was amazing – test engineer, test analyst, test architect, test manager, test specialist, head of testing, agile coach, automation coach and so on. There were some people with absolutely no testing background but seemed deeply interested in the testing side of matters, which was quite interesting to note. There were representatives of big organisations like BBC and NHS, as well as from small, niche companies.
It was an event much more international than I thought! There was great representation from different countries and made the interactions even more interesting.
There was a lot of common ground around the challenges the delegates shared in their everyday roles –denial of the value testing brings, testers facing negativity or resistance, feeling undervalued, lack of support and funding etc. Some testers felt they were under pressure to learn coding to the point of nearly becoming developers. However not everyone felt technical expectation was overwhelming, some were actually raring to go for more intense technical content in their testing work – they seemed restless to see more innovation in testing.
In terms of expectations the list included aspects like gaining more technical knowhow on certain specific topics like DevOps, learning about how other companies were dealing with a certain aspect of testing, to gain new ideas, to get tips towards implementing a new concept etc. But one main expectation was in common – to meet more likeminded people! Networking was the most common expectation from the conference.
Most common take away points were around the idea of making the community of testing practice stronger, improving agile delivery mechanism, ideas for DevOps implementation and learning related to some soft skills too.
Organising committee member Natalie mentioned how there was consciously no theme set for the conference as it can sometimes be limiting but she was hoping to see the idea of connecting hearts with minds, which she felt had been achieved. Mike Jarred felt the conference should help testers broaden their horizon and he personally felt the event rekindled the spirit to get back into testing. Alan Richardson highlighted how the conference belongs to the attendees – it is up to everyone to make the most of it through conversation, observation and inspiration (from others). The UKSTAR team shared their excitement about the buzz and energy they were witnessing at the event. To see the event come together created a feeling of fulfilment as well as gave them opportunities of learning from the face-to-face interaction with people from the industry.
I feel inspired and influenced by many people I met in the conference. But here are the people who stood out for me in this event.
- A testing professional Tony Winrow who chose to switch to testing as a profession, after having been a developer for 20 years! I found it an extraordinary story as he felt it was a conscious choice and he felt the role of a tester was much dynamic – a very uncommon story!
- Marianne Dujist, a young and upcoming test specialist, who champions innovation in her organisation – her enthusiasm for innovation was infectious and has gotten me charged up to try something similar in my environment!
- The top slot has to be for two extraordinary women with well over 30 years of experience in the field of testing. For me, they were the rock stars of this conference! Dorothy Graham and Isabel Evans – hats off to these ladies who showed all of us how it is done! Their passion for testing was to behold. They both were very current in their knowledge of the trends, utterly engaging in their way of expression, absolutely own their subject matter and yet immensely personable. I am in awe of these two distinguished professionals who have filled me with inspiration, who reminded me of the immense contributions made by stalwarts like them to the field of testing and also made me realise what I would have missed if I had not attended this conference!
UKSTAR 2018 experience helped me discover the diversity in the testing community – something worth celebrating and appreciating. To be in company of driven professionals from around the world, who take great pride in their roles and truly enjoy testing – the tester in me couldn’t have asked for more!