ThinkTest 2015 highlights & acknowledgements

Finally – we did THINKTEST on 5th December 2015 that we were planning to do in 2013. I had so many emotions coming up through the entire month, that I purposely delayed writing the blog on ThinkTest , so I could give time for my thoughts to settle down and I only write what I truly mean . Frankly, this is not unlike me to get attached to my work but this event made me feel very different than my usual work.  I could be at risk of being called highly dramatic, but, I have to admit – the event almost felt like my third child – A feeling that probably Rosie Sherry or Peggy Libbey could share with me.

James + ThinkTest

One feeling that has not changed since the morning of 5th December 2015 though, is – ThinkTest 2015 was a resounding success!! Astounding and reverberating in every sense!!

Before I go further into my blog, I need to say this in bold & CAPITAL. THANK YOU JAMES FOR MAKING IT. I have seen your hotel bills and I have a fair idea of your travel costs too. And putting everything together, I know for sure, this was not a trip you did for commercial reasons. I am truly humbled by this respect and attention you have given me. I can’t thank you enough on behalf of the testers gathered here to meet you – they have loved your presence and your talks and would be so looking forward to seeing you here again.

full house - thinktest - james

Delhi, is typically known for being a little lazier than its other peers like Mumbai, Bangalore etc. However, the testers here broke the myth. We had the room full before James got onstage and that truly deserves a huge round of applause for the testers who made it all the way from Gurgaon / Faridabad / Ghaziabad / Noida and various far flung places in Delhi.  Besides the National Capital Region, we had testers from Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Jaipur, Pune and Kolkata joining us. We also had 1 tester who flew all the way from Colombo ( SriLanka) – just for the conference and the RST class – in short – just for James Bach. There was a total gathering of 157 folks, of which we had a team of 5 organizers (including me), and 11 speakers (including James) and about 6 sponsor representatives. The rest were the awesome software testers. Thanks testers for making it in such numbers.

The day before – We worked with the hotel staff and the printing team all night until 5 am of 5th morning to get the stage up and the backdrop done. The sponsor booths were put up and the standees placed. The registration desk setup. Each chair and table checked for cleanliness – Audio / Visual equipments tested.

20151204_234026 20151204_234019

 

 

 

 

At Utpatang office – collecting the gift packs at 00:00 hrs on 5th December 2015.

20151205_02013820151205_024225

 

 

 

 

 

At the venue (Holiday Inn) at about 02:00 hrs on 5th December 2015 – setting up the “decorations” for the ceremony.

Had a quick nap from 5 to 6:30 am and the day started again. Our first attendees came in about 7:30 am. Thereafter they started to pour in at the registration desk as the 2 volunteers were hurriedly letting them in with their delegate tags. There were few walk-ins who had not registered. They were initially not allowed – frankly we had seating of 120 and were okay for 130-135 folks around but handling 15 – 20 more than the already 20 additional registrations, seemed difficult. But they stood patiently and we didn’t have the heart to turn them down. They were not charged but instead given complimentary passes and allowed because they showed their keenness to hear James and learn from him. From there on, the day went by smoothly – everything that was planned went better than planned. A few unplanned situations cropped in – which I talk about, under learnings- later in the blog.

James with other speakers and delegates

Before, I started to write this blog, I asked a few participants and organizing team members, as to what should we put as THE highlight of the event. Most of the participants couldn’t have enough of James, long after he left India and so I wasn’t surprised when they were raving about his inspiring Keynote “Testing is not Test cases” and also his latest new presentation the “Question Hospital” – a concept very well received by testers and something they would like for James to continue to build on, so we get more and more examples to go through. The keynote also happened to be the most and best rated by the testers; shortly followed by Santhosh Tuppad’s “Your data is no more ONLY your data”. All the feedbacks were collected at a survey done post event and the results shall be made public shortly.

DSC_0066

However, there was also a surprising/comic response to the highlights – one that was made by a member of organizing team – who said  – ‘I barely got inside the room, so I can’t say much what all went inside, but I can tell you that crowd outside was very interested in t-shirts and cups and all the goodies sponsors had’. Frankly – I myself couldn’t see much of the action at one place, as I wasnt stationery but kept moving due to multiple responsibilities on me on that day. But at one point, I did notice – when the lunch break had just started, that the queue for Saucelabs and Parasoft was longer than the queue for food. So, THANK YOU SPONSORS – truly – heartfelt thanks to all of you – Saucelabs, Parasoft, Software Test Pro (STP) and Srijan Technologies. I hope you do realize that it was because of your generous sponsorship that we could open our hearts to have complimentary and discounted tickets. Your contribution to the community is well respected. Our special thanks to the support sponsors – Test Insane and Moolya and PoolWallet, for supporting the event; Our diversity partner- Sheroes for promoting the conference amongst female technology enthusiasts ; Our community partner – Test Practitioner’s Club for promoting the event on all its avenues (FB / meetup/linkedin) to testing practitioners in the region; Our gifting partner – Utpatang, for making the meaningful giftpacks for our speakers and delegates; Our media partner Tea-Time with Testers for helping us spread the word amongst the right audience; and our supporters in Agile Testing Alliance and Discuss Agile Network and Unicom.

Long queue..

Testers

At this point, it’s imperative that I mention Anand Bagmar for mobilizing Thoughtworks team towards their significant presence at the conference and the RST class thereafter. Thanks Atulya Krishna Mishra and Anmol Bagga for working on almost war footing to ensure the word reaches every nook and corner of the region, covering every interested tester. Thanks Saket Bansal and Sarabjit Singh Bakshi for guiding me with pointers and at times, simply handing me the solutions for what I needed- Thanks for taking my calls EVERYTIME I called, and answering with patience. Seriously guys – heartfelt thanks.

There is something more I need to mention, since I am thanking everyone involved in helping me towards making the event happen – I need to thank Pradeep Soundararajan. I need to thank him for various reasons but 2 important ones I will mention. 1. Thanks Pradeep for introducing India to James Bach and other global leaders, as a respectable community of testers. As much as I like my abilities – I probably couldn’t have done it better than you. 2. Thanks Pradeep for silently supporting us with sponsorship and saying – “I may not give much of money. But I don’t want anything in return. I am doing this because I have hosted James earlier and I know how it is”. I am not sure if you would have wanted me to quote you here, but I needed to express my gratitude and tremendous respect for you. Every drop counts and you knew it better than me. Your thoughtfulness for the community deserves our sincere respect.

I am consciously stopping the thanks here – apologies for missing out anyone who thinks she / he should have been mentioned here. I truly thank everyone including the hotel staff at the venue for their bit of contribution in our success. I need to move on to other aspects 🙂

James with testers -STP

Coming to the learning part of the event – every session by James was very well received. Attendees would hog on every available minute with him. There were tons of amazing conversations held by the thinking testers and curious testers and those who had the potential to be one and were on their path to transformation. James was loving the talks as much as the testers around him. Amongst the other speakers – every speaker did fantastic job – Anand Bagmar , Kapil Saxena, Tarun Lalwani, Santhosh Tuppad, Ajay Balaurugaudas, Shrikant Vashishtha, Charu Jain, Sachin GoelSumeet Gupta, and Rajdeep Varma. After James (all sessions) and Anand’s morning session –  Tarun’s session was most attended , closely followed by Charu’s session. Topics covered  at the conference were – “Testing beyond test cases”, context driven testing, test estimations, asking relevant questions (and the right way) as a tester,  Continuously delivery, automation frameworks, test data management, ATDD / BDD, Mobile apps testing, testing in agile teams, tester’s role and relationship with developers, data security and leadership. It was thrilling to watch the level of participation from attendees at various sessions. Testers as well as speakers enjoyed questioning and being questioned.

CSC_0471 CSC_0472 CSC_0465 CSC_0470

 

 

 

 

 

 

One name whose presence we missed, got her virtual presence – as James made sure her name resonated throughout the day in the room. We missed –  Parimala Hariprasad – or “A True Role Model” as James called her, at the conference. She holds my warmth as a friend and respect as a peer.

The day sDSC_0151tarted with lot of energy that DIDN’T decline through the day.  James’ intensity and passion to teach was consistent – though he spoke for most of the day. The time he was not on stage, he was answering testers, engaging with them and also getting interviewed by me. The day ended with James recommending Neha Asthana as the winner for the free seat at RST class, pulling lucky draws out of the fishbowl for 5 lucky winners who won online packages of selenium books and tutorials, courtesy: Saucelabs.

The very final episode was felicitating the respected speakers, graciously done by James Bach. Interestingly the gift packs were “black boxes” with some “white” on it – James almost made the speakers test these too.

DSC_0256   DSC_0311  DSC_0276

Presentations for all the sessions have been shared with the attendees. All the videos have been uploaded at youtube. You can subscribe to the channel Events Team to stay updated as more videos of future events are added. All official pictures of the event are uploaded at the QAZone’s facebook page .

How can an event of this scale happen without any learnings or disappointments at all? Well, honestly -The only 2 feedbacks that we got about something not going well were both about time keeping. Attendees felt they missed on some parts of their next sessions because of some track speakers over staying. I learnt my lesson to have better time checks in future.  May be having a track owner, who manages the time and A/V / Infra  needs of the speakers of that track, could help. Some other learnings threw me out of my comfort zone as an ethical entrepreneur – but I learnt that when someone comes with a surprise act and that thing bothers me and I want to say NO to that activity, I should say NO. Instead of giving into the pressure (of respecting guests) and then feeling resentful later.

DSC_0262DSC_0318

Atulya

 

 

 

Sometimes people surprise you with their lack of ethics and working in certain environment helps you see their strength of character more clearly. When working with immature / ignorant people, every detail should be in black and white, since they do not understand the common language of ethics, which defines what they can do but should not. Keeping it legal might help keeping the relationship strain- free. Speakers agreement and Sponsors agreement are good things to have – small but key learning.

The only disappointment I personally have is – not having enough women speakers. We tried to do everything we could, but we failed. We need to continue to work on this aspect.

Women Speakers@ThinkTest

With all the experience and learnings as a tester and organizer that this conference gave us, one thing that I could finally conclude as the highlight of the event , the best outcome of it, for all to notice – There are serious testers in the NCR region. Serious to make things happen. Serious to learn and grow. Serious to defy the law of gravity and move upwards in their career path and learning curve. Thanks to each tester who attended the ThinkTest 2015 with the intent to learn – YOU WERE THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE EVENT. KUDOS TO YOU – YOU MADE IT HAPPEN!!

Purpose

Been a week that I am back from an enthralling experience at STPcon Spring 2015 held at San Diego in the week of 30th March – 2nd April. I have attended a few conferences in past – this one being the best so far and plan to attend more in future . And always have a set of expectations and goals with each of them. Majority of which is learning, meeting new people, meeting people I have otherwise known and followed and liked in the online world (thanks to Facebook / Twitter / Linkedin), business networking, making friends. One of my favorite thing to do is to buy items from India that Indian women relish as fashion accessories and gift them to my favorite people when I see them. Makes me happy.

I truly enjoyed meeting so many of my favorite peeps at the STP conf and since I was meeting most of them not for the 1st time, it was easier to have fun and talk more freely. Knowing them from before, following them online and having previous interactions helped me know what subjects could we discuss to make the best of those precious moments of being face to face.

me at conf

Going back to expectations and goals that we have with any event, in this case conferences – lets call it “Purpose” for the lack of a better term. I would like to think everyone going to a conference, builds a purpose in their mind which keeps getting refined at each step – say for an attendee, as they are choosing a conference, a particular package and as they put their preferred sessions on the program. How well you choose your sessions will be a major factor on how meaningful was your experience at the conference.

ours

When I am speaking at a conference, my key purposes with which I measure my success ( how meaningful was my experience) would include – how well I connected with my audience, how much could I impart and if they could learn any bit or atleast get the basics and the approach, even if they take time to ingest all at once and we discuss them (post conference too) over next couple of weeks or months. Another purpose for me is what I learn from the attendees and can I takeaway some new perspectives.

I had an experience this last week at one of my classes that drove me to write about “Purpose” with respect to conferences. IMO – Conferences are one of the best places to learn, experience and network. And it really pained me to see an attendee sitting through the class for 8 hours and then say “I am a technical tester and am not sure if this session is of much use to me” . It pains me because that attendee paid for something that he felt he could not make much use of. Paid not only in terms of money but in terms of time that he can never earn back. Pained me more because I felt inadequate as a teacher. I should have been able to see through his adaptive camouflage during the sessions. I think i did somewhat. But there was so much to cover with respect to my subject that I could not have focused on that 1 out of 30 odd and fixed it right then in the class.

On a side note, I am thankful to STP for sharing each and every feedback and putting so much effort in compiling all of them, for me to come to a relative score that also helps me see if i am improving as a speaker. Back to topic – When I look back, I still believe it would be difficult on me to help this attendee if the same situation repeated. I assessed the attendee over the exercises and realized he needed to learn more of “testing” before he went to understand role of business domains in testing.

I am happy that I could help rest of the class – I got some raving remarks too and overall got rated as 4.42 on a scale of 5. Helps my soul.

But how must that attendee be feeling after the tutorial.Are we at a risk of losing a potential learner? How can we avoid such situations – What can you do to define your purposes better and feel more content with your learnings ?

I encourage you to share your thoughts too on this, while I am sharing a few from my end:

  • Build Purpose by knowing –
    • What skills do you need for your current job
    • What skills would you like to develop for future perspectives
    • What topics interest you
    • What is the direction your organization taking – would you need some new skill to support your firm
  • Map Purpose to Abstract –
    • Read the topic well (but sometimes with a pinch of salt)
    • Read the abstracts carefully – in detail
    • Look at “key takeaways” – almost all conferences have these upfront on their program details
    • Find contact details of the speakers – if in doubt – talk to him/ her in advance to understand what will be taught / discussed
    • Ask speakers to suggest some background study , if possible.
  • After Party
    • Connect with others in the class
    • Stay in touch and discuss how each is implementing the learnings
    • Go back to the speaker for clarifications and more help

Looking forward to your suggestions too. Hope this helps someone. And one last thought – DO NOT GIVE UP LEARNING BECAUSE A PARTICULAR TEACHER OR CLASS COULD NOT TEACH YOU. I AM SURE THERE IS SOMEONE OUT THERE TO HELP YOU.

Career Development for software testers

Hey there – We have some interesting roundtable discussions at the Software Test Professional Fall conference 2014. One of them is about “Career Development for Software Testers”. I am hosting it and plan to have some really meaningful and interesting discussions.

Most of what will be discussed there, will be the inputs from the attendees in the room. However, we are working to collect few data points around common discussion topics for tester groups, and hence am sharing a survey developed to do it.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/testerscareer

Please take the survey and be part of the discussions.

The survey results will be shared and discussed at the roundtable at STPCON Fall 2014 at Denver. Register for the same at :

https://www.regonline.com/Register/Checkin.aspx?EventID=1554743

Thanks friends.