A reflection on 2018

Well, this has been an interesting year, that’s for sure.

It started back in mid January when the role of Director Quality Engineering was made redundant, and I started a 30 day consultation period. Never having gone through redundancy, I didn’t know how I would feel about it, so decided to do two things: 1) create a plan of action, and 2) keep a diary,

The plan listed things I wanted to do – not just about finding work (although that was important of course), so I had CV update, LinkedIn update, contacting recruiters etc and then had other things I wanted to do – jet wash the patio, fix the bathroom radiator, start playing the clarinet (still havent done that yet!), and a host of other things.

Over the course of the first few weeks, I went for walks, to make sure I kept exercising, and bought an exercise bike which I probably manage to use a couple of times a week, ordered some business cards to hand out, and found my first opportunity when I attended the UK Star Testing conference. I logged things in the diary – who I spoke to, roles applied for, any feedback etc.

Then, 1 week before my finish date, I was asked if I would do a temporary job until the end of June on a GDPR project. It made sense to do this, deferring the redundancy and working on something interesting. I’ve blogged about this elsewhere so wont go into it here, but I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to work across a much wider team, helping people to fathom out exactly what they needed to do to be compliant.

I had already been asked to speak at the National Software Testing Conference in May, which I was pleased to do, and picked the subject ‘Dont just talk about Automation, Talk about Testing’. This is something you may well have realised from my other posts is very important to me, as I feel that we focus so much on one aspect of testing, and ignore everything else (but enough of that for now). This was my only speaking engagement of the year – with the uncertainty around my job, I didn’t feel able to commit to much more. As I look back, I wonder if this was the right thing or not – time will tell.

Jumping forward to June, as I was coming to the end of my temporary role as a Project Manager, I thought that this might be a good time to try this on a permanent basis. A role had arisen in a team I first worked with back in 2007, and I moved into this role in July.

It was a gamble, as I hadn’t a lot of real PM experience, but figured it would be doing more of the same, just in a different team. I soon realised though that the PM role on GDPR was very different, and was more of a PM in name rather than actual responsibilities. As part of the projects I worked on, I ran a UAT session for an upgrade project and went on to assist with running a UAT phase on another project – both of these used my testing experience. It was one of those moments when I realised how much I missed being involved in testing, and I started to think about finding a role back in Test Management.

As luck would have it, a reshuffle within the team back in November meant that the PM role was to be made redundant, and today (21st December) marks the end of my 30 day consultation period, gardening leave and end of employment after nearly 12 years at Reed Business Information. Sometimes these things are just meant to happen, and this is one of those times. I was worried that being out of testing for too long would make it difficult to get back into it, but I am pleased to say that I have secured a new role as a Senior Test Manager, starting at the end of January (more details to come), so am feeling very lucky indeed.

My year ended very differently to how it started, and not where I expected to be. Whilst it is sad to leave a great company like RBI after 12 years, I am excited by the chance to get back into testing again.

I don’t regret any decision I made though – I loved staying on to do GDPR, and I am glad that I took a chance to try out being a Project Manager, even though it wasn’t for me. The point is that had I not tried it, I would never have known. And that is something I will take from this year. To not be afraid to try new things – even if they don’t work out. I learned a lot about stakeholder management, and an appreciation of the logistics needed to get a project over the line, working with people who I didn’t line manage, but needed to direct them to perform certain tasks in specific timeframes.

What will 2019 bring? Well, a new job, hopefully opportunities to speak at a few conferences, and I shall continue to help where I can with the Software Test Clinic run by Dan Ashby & Abby Bangser, as I love being able to give something back to the community.

And what of you, dear reader, as you read this post? Did your 2018 work out the way you thought it would? Have you learned things that you never expected to? Have you spent some time reflecting on your journey? If you have and would like to share your comments, I’d love to read them. We can all learn something together.

I wish you a very Happy Christmas, and all the best for 2019.

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