Inspiring meetup, but with -1

Test Practitioners Club is a Testing Meetup based mostly in National Capital Region , India. We have been in existence since January 2014, that’s when we hosted our first meetup.

We started with 8 subscribers to the thought and all of them attended.

And I was the only woman and I was a bit disappointed at this but not disheartened. I was determined to change this and I knew how to. Little did I know back then, that I am not thinking right.

We now have 943 members on the meetup group alone (excluding FB page followers)and at our latest meetup we had over 40 members join us. We try to do the meetup as frequently as possible. We would love to do it once a month but we are unable to. Regular members of the meetup are now stepping up to take more initiatives and sometimes they host the event at their venue, and find speakers too. That kind of leadership helps a lot to continue organizing the meetup.

Test Practitioners Club April 2018 meetup was held at Oracle office thanks to Manoj Jain, the Director (Software Development). Among the speakers were a few regular attendees and core team members (Gaurav Bansal (Snapdeal) / Nitin Mukhija (PayUMoney) / Omkar (Naukri), some from Oracle –  Amit Vashishtha and one surprise speaker – Siddharth Taneja (Make My Trip).

 

Siddharth Taneja came out to be a very special story. He is braving Cerebral Palsy .

He works as a FTE at MakeMyTrip and he is not just surviving there on compassionate grounds but is winning as one of the best performers in his team. A glimpse of his story can be seen at : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P600zzicDZc

 

He set us thinking that there can be no limitation too big to learn, if there is a strong will and desire to learn. When asked what he wanted to do – he said “I want to make a dent on the world“. He wants to be someone who is taken note of when he leaves.

With the overwhelming execution of the current meetup in April 2018 – we feel very successful in being able to mobilise the testers to a point where community learning is being enjoyed and looked forward to. We have consistently had over 40 members attendance and atleast 35-40% women testers participating as attendees.

But there is one aspect that has made us feel a bit like failure. Infact, not just a bit, but more like a big embarrassing failure.  Personally, being someone who has participated in different capacities in so many initiatives for including more women in technology and being a very known enthusiast for leading such initiatives, it feels like a big MINUS ONE when I am unable to bring women speakers to our meetup.

It gets even more disturbing to me when we are seeking women speakers from the best of the organizations in the region and we don’t get even ONE submission or interest from them. Occasionally we have had women speakers from “Srijan Technologies” thanks to our evangelist Anil Chandana there. But that’s about it.

Not sure where we are going wrong. I am going to continue tryng to fix it going forward. Our next meetup is in May 2018. And we are going to organize meetups as frequently as possible – hopefully once a month.

If any tester is interested in speaking at the meetup , please email me directly at smita.mishra@qazone.in or reach out to us at our Meetup page or Facebook Page.

My humble appeal – If you are a women tester or technology enthusiast, and wish to speak or know of some such women technocrats – please reach out to us. We will also support them in getting mentored on how to present if they have never done Public Speaking before. Point to note here – This doesn’t stop men from reaching out to us to get the same support.

Looking forward to having women speakers at our meet-ups.

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.