1. Hi Clare, thank you for making the time to talk with us today. Your career, qualifications and certifications in Testing and tech are very impressive; can you tell us why you were drawn to a career in Testing specifically?
Well I’ve always been interested in technology but testing specifically and, like most testers I would say I kind of fell into it. I purposefully chose a sandwich degree which meant I could get my degree and a full year working in industry which I had working at Cheshire County Council. This was where I started testing, and I found I really enjoyed it and was actually pretty good at it so once I completed my degree that was what I hoped to do!
2. We also note that you were a server in a hotel whilst studying for your Bsc (Hons) in Information Systems, what did your experiences there teach you that have since became useful in your tech career?
Whilst studying for my degree I also worked at staples as a sales associate and for a short period of time elsewhere as a data entry clerk!
Personally I feel you get as much experience and life skills working as you do through studying. Through working you gain experiences that include working as a team, dealing with customers, managing budgets, training others and many other things. I think sometimes people can spend so much time studying they struggle to develop life skills and may struggle in a working environment once they graduate, so I believe part-time work can really help with this transition.
3. What are the day to day challenges you face in your current QA Manager role, and how do you best tackle them?
Depends what day of the week it is! I’d say managing resource effectively with frequently changing priorities is one of the most frequent problems, along with trying to support the personal development of the team alongside business priorities.
4. If you were to describe your career journey so far in Testing as a movie, what would it be?
No Idea! But it’s full of surprises and it’s nothing like I thought it would be!
5. Which qualifications or personality traits do you think are a key foundation for the best Agile professionals to build from?
I don’t believe any qualifications are required as such but there are certainly some key attributes that will help people along the way, depending on the environment they are working in and what their personal interests are. For agile ways of working I really think experience is key, everyone implements agile methods in different ways and sitting in a classroom, in my opinion, isn’t going to help you deal with all the challenges you may eventually face. I believe you need to get stuck in as soon as possible, learn from those around you and be willing to challenge and make recommendations.
6. When recruiting, what would be your 3 major no no’s when it comes to identifying your next ‘rock star’ QA or Testing team member?
- Someone who is too quick to point the finger at others.
- Someone who just wants to ‘do their job’ and isn’t interested in developing themselves
- Dishonesty/Lying; I’d rather have someone with little or no skills who’s upfront about what they don’t know and willing to work on it than someone who is dishonest about what they know or don’t know.
7. We note in your LinkedIn profile that you are ‘passionate about leadership and helping others develop to be the best’, how do you think that’s best translated into your practices as a manager?
I strongly believe in leading by example and never asking my team to do something I’m not prepared to do myself; something one of the first managers I ever had when I was a Sales Associate at Staples whilst I was studying always said, which I still use to this day. Equally, I don’t like to micro-manage, I’d rather set the goal and the deadline and allow the team to figure out the best way to complete the task. I find this is a great opportunity to allow the team to manage their own tasks and ‘lead’ for themselves.
I truly believe you succeed as a manager when your team succeeds and are happy in their roles.
8. There is often news in the press around working positively to encourage more women into tech, from STEM subjects selected to the career paths chosen from the University or college qualifications gained. If you were to approach a programme to encourage more young girls and women into tech, much like you would approach a Testing programme, what would you do?
The first thing would be to try and understand why women don’t often choose to go into technology related roles and try and tackle that. Having programmes and mentors available is fantastic, but if people women aren’t looking to get into these tech roles, then diversity will remain a challenge!
Unfortunately tech jobs are still often seen as a bit Geeky’ and not very cool by a lot of people, so it would be good to break that misconception apart. I believe we need to make learning affordable and easy to access for everyone so I think tools like the Raspberry-Pi are a great step towards this to help encourage coding from a young age.
9. If you could create an app for the greater good, what would it be?
There’s lot of things you could do I suppose, however the things that concern me the most right now are Forest destruction and rising sea levels, combined with the high volume of and the animals we are losing as a result. So for me an app for the greater good would be something with maps that showed environmental changes with the combined and overall impact to animals and vegetation. You could crowd fund to take action against it, e.g. raise money to plant more trees. We’re running a very real risk of destroying the earth at our current rate. If technology can help people better understand the rate of destruction and why it’s happening, then all the better to embrace it. If an app could provide us all with the information to make informed decisions to allow us to help in some, small way, then why not use it before it is too late!