A couple of days ago, I was at the Test Management Summit, organised by Paul Gerrard, and in fact it was the 50th one he had organised having started in January 2004. I was privileged to do a talk on diversifying as a Test Manager, as there seems to be a decline in the number of roles Test Manager roles.
I wanted an open debate and discussion around this as it is important to understand the implications of this. Where will existing Test Managers move to? Where will Test Leads work towards career wise?
We had 18 people engaged in this topic and I have to say that the 75 minutes went very quickly. I was grateful that I had such a good bunch of interested people in the talk, as it was never intended to be a monologue. Sending people to sleep during the day isn’t really my thing!
We concluded a number of things:
- The stats I used to show a decrease in Test Manager roles were only for a 3 month period. if we look again in 3 months, would we still see the same thing? If we did, then it may be more of a worrying trend!
- We all have a number of key skills that we sometimes forget about, but can be used in other roles.
- My role has embraced product Management as well as Test Management and there are new skills I have learned which complement those I have from my testing background.
- It is up to us to look around and try to create new roles for ourselves – reinvent. One guy said he had spent his career making himself redundant, in order to move on. That is really brave, but it has worked for him.
- And Testing doesn’t stop at Test Manager – there are Programme Test Manager roles and increasingly people are looking for skills in Test Assurance.
I will review the same stats (number of Tester, Senior, Lead and Manager roles) again in 6 months and see what they look like. In the meantime, I dont see this as a problem – it is an opportunity for all of us to take control of our own careers and make decisions before someone else does it for us.
My advice – list your skills, you may be surprised at the things you do and take for granted.
Look at where you could utilise those skills, and also think of areas where you might like to get into, and plan how to close any skill gaps. We as Test Managers all need to move on to make room for those below us, or we get overtaken and become dinosaurs!