All change!

Well, following the success of my January 1st posting, things on the blog front have been very quiet – but that doesn’t reflect my life in any way at all.

In mid January my role was put at risk of redundancy, meaning a 30 day consultation period that concluded last week. If I am honest, it wasn’t something that totally surprised me, as the tech organisation has been changing over the past 12 months, and the role I had didn’t really fit within the new framework.

So how did I feel? It was very odd, as I didn’t know how I should feel. What should I do? How should I be thinking? Where do I start?
There is no template, and not having been through this before, I used common sense to be honest. I decided to tackle this as a positive thing. My children are 18 & 21, my wife works, so its not as though I am the only breadwinner, and its not the end of the world. I have also worked full time without a break in employment since I left school over 30 years ago, so actually, I felt that I could do with one.

It also struck me that each job change has been to try to move onwards and upwards – and now the cycle has broken. It is really liberating to break out of that process! I had no idea how freeing it would feel.

I work for a great company who have really supported me through the process, putting me in touch with an organisation who support people in their job and career journey after redundancy.

My first task, literally 2 days after I was told, was to set about writing a list of things that I wanted to do:

  • Update my LinkedIn profile
  • Take advantage of the help offered by the company I was referred to for career guidance, and sign up for sessions/webinars etc
  • Update my CV
  • Speak to contacts
  • Order business cards to give out at conferences/meetups etc
  • Look into contracting (I have only ever been a permie)
  • Sort out my shed
  • Clean the greenhouse
  • Fix the shower grouting
  • Plan my radio shows in advance

And so on. It was a random mix of things that I wanted to do, including jobs I had put off and not done, so the idea was to keep busy.

I kept a list of what I did each day – job alerts, agency contacts, applications, webinars attended, shed tidying etc so I could see the journey, and it helped. Being productive and organised is important to me, and I made sure to get up around 7.30 each day so as not to get into the habit of sleeping in late!

So – why update now? Well – things don’t always go as planned. In my mind, I was all set to leave on the 14th Feb, I was fine with that, and had made plans for the 15th & 16th so I would not stop work and suddenly feel a bit adrift. And then the week before, I had a conversation which changed things.

I was asked to stay on until the end of June as an Interim Project Manager in the team I was with up until January 2017, as my domain knowledge would be beneficial. I said yes, and start on Monday 19th. I am looking forward to this – not only does it buy me some more time, but with stakeholder management, delivery and workshops a part of the role, these are things that will help boost my skills. It’s not strictly a Testing role, but there is a lot of crossover, as an increasing number of Test Manager/Head of Test roles are looking for these things, and I have the chance to be doing them now. It’s a win-win.

I feel very fortunate to have been asked, and glad that I approached the whole redundancy process with a positive mindset. Although the redundancy is deferred, I can pick up the search again in a month or two when I am ready, so nothing I have done or learned is wasted. If I hadn’t been through the process, my CV would not have received it’s overhaul, so at the very least, that’s been worthwhile!

Every experience is an opportunity to learn, and we all have the choice as to how we deal with whatever life throws at us. I can empathise first-hand with others who have gone through the same process rather than offering platitudes, with no idea of how that person may have felt.

It’ll be interesting to post again in 6 months and see where life has taken me. Who knows!


2017 – 3 weeks in.

A little belated, but I can get away with posting ‘Happy New Year‘ as this is my first post of 2017.

So, here we are, about 3 weeks in to the year and a lot has happened already:

  • I have taken on a new role in my company as Director of Quality Engineering – essentially Director of the QA function, for a different brand to where I worked before so this has opened up some new and exciting opportunities for me within
  • I recently joined the BCS and am hoping to get involved in their mentoring scheme for new conference speakers – I’d love to give something back to our testing community!
  • An article which I worked on late last year has been published in Test Magazine – and they have done a cracking job of the presentation and layout (thanks 31Media). Its all about where we should focus our efforts as testers when looking at honing our skills, so I would love to hear any feedback if you do happen to read it.
  • I am speaking at Testing Showcase North in Manchester in February on the subject of Tester Training, in a similar vein to the magazine article, but of course delivered as an interactive talk. Details available here
  • Then a week later I am joining my colleague Bhagya Perera in London at the inaugural UKStar event to deliver a session on ‘The Communication Bridge’, which I am very much looking forward to as well. More details here
  • Oh, and in May I will be speaking at the National Software Testing conference in London!

I cant believe how busy it’s been already, and that is without the workshop that I am running with my new team next Friday, and our ongoing QA Chapters that we run in-house.

But I am not complaining, I get bored easily (something that I am not proud of, as I wish I had more patience overall!), so doing a lot of things is good for me. One of my old team asked me last week how I found the time to do so many things. I do wonder myself sometimes, but my reply to her was that it comes down to having an in-built passion to do something of benefit. No-one can be forced to do anything extra – we have to want to. The secret is to find something that excites you, helps you grow as an individual, as well as in terms of job related skills. Giving something back by helping others where you can (it shouldn’t be just about personal gain), and making a difference – these are important to me, and I really hope that 2017 is even more awesome than 2016. Of course that depends on the amount of time and effort I am prepared to invest, so the incentive lies with me – but that’s what is good about it. I am in control and can do as much or as little as I feel capable of doing.

So, watch this space 🙂

Oh, one final thought – my job title is now Director, not Manager, but I think I will leave the site titled as ‘Musings of a Test Manager’, as I still think it sounds good to me. I tried thinking of alternatives, but ‘Doodles of a QA Director’ doesnt really have the same ring!

The Testbash legacy

In my previous post I waxed lyrical about #Testbash 2016, and rightly so.

Having had a couple of weeks since attending, I think I can put my finger on what made the event so successful:

  • Friendliness
  • Great locations around Brighton
  • The atmosphere
  • Everyone having fun and joining in
  • The legacy it has left.

I want to tackle the last one – the amazing amount of posts on Linked-In and Twitter from presenters and attendees who are all following up their visit with practical action – and that is exactly what we should be doing. if we attend a conference and then go home and apply nothing, then we have missed an opportunity to grow.

I brought back three things to try:

  1. Lean Coffee,
  2. Tester pairing,
  3. Understanding how to better work with distributed teams.

1. Lean Coffee

I had heard of this, although had no idea what it meant, so on Friday 11th March at 8am, I joined a queue of people going in to a large Theatre in central Brighton. Most people at that time of the morning had their focus on the coffee (as did I), but we quickly found ourselves sitting around tables with pens and post-it notes, self-organising our own session. I am not going to describe in detail here what it is, only that within 20 minutes we all got the concept, and spent just over an hour discussing many interesting topics, and as a group instinctivley knowing when it was time to move on to the next one.

So….I brought it into work. I run monthly Test Team meetings,m and as my team expands (currently 7 testers, and will be 10 soon), it is useful for testers from 2 locations working on different products to get together, and share ideas, best practices etc. We do a retrospective, and I changed it to a Lean Coffee Retro, explaining how it works, and we managed to get through 4 topics that had the most votes. I asked the team if they wanted to continue, and they said yes to doing this monthly, so thats my first post Testbash success!

2. Tester pairing

I have to thank Katrina Clokie @katrina_tester for her great talk on how she introduced a pilot cross training scheme back in her native New Zealand. The idea of cross training is something that I am very conscious of, but have struggled to really get sorted out in an organised way. Katrina explained a simple but effective way to do this, by having testers spend an hour with other testers on a bi-weekly basis, with the hour structured to enable both testers to have hands-on time (see I raised this with our Technology VP and am pleased to say I have the green light to implement this – and the testers in the team are really up for this as well, so thats my second post Testbash success!

3. Working with distributed teams

My colleague Bhagya was at the same session as me, and you can read a full account here so I wont repeat the session, however having sat in on the offshore team whilst Bhagya was on the corresponding onshore team, we both decided to run an in-house session given how much we learned from it. In fact Bhagya is so keen she has already contacted Lisa Crispin @lisacrispin and Abby Bangser @a_bangser to obtain the materials needed. Again, Idiscuss with my Technology VP what the benefits would be to our teams and I am really pleased to have his backing to run this course, so thats my third post Testbash success! Now we just have to make it work!! I think the challenge will be putting ourselves in the position of Lisa and Abby as Product Managers in order to run this successfully.


The next month will need some time to set these things up, around my day job (which is split between Test Management and Product Management), but thats part of the fun, I really want to do this as it would make such a difference. We write and talk a lot in the industry about trying new things and not standing still, and I really feel that this year will be the one where the testers in my team will see a noticable difference in their roles, helping them to grow in confidence, skills and to be better all round testers because of it.

So, once again, thanks to Rosie Sherry @rosiesherry and her team for organising a fantastic event, which is leaving a legacy

Take it as read that I will post a follow up to these three items to let you know how we get on.

#Testbash #legacy #alwayslearning