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.

Looking for a testing job in San Diego?

Few months back, I started a meetup group – Test Practitioner’s Club. We have about 200 + members each on the linkedin group and facebook page and the meetup.

We have been meeting locally, to learn testing from each other and share our experiences. But lately, I noticed, lot of folks who came to the meetups, began to find new jobs with organizations, whose employees frequently participated in our meetups too. And I realized that these meetups were serving as the breeding ground for new relationships. It also became a platform for testers to network and evaluate opportunities – Opportunity to hire as well as to get hired.

Conferences / meetups /public trainings – are perfect places to meet new peers. These serve not only as a networking platform but also give an opportunity to evaluate a tester’s skill at length and in not so formal environment, thus possibly showing more natural side of the tester.

And, for the testers who are looking for a change, conferences serve as a priceless opportunity to find either the right job for them or an impactful referral. The passionate ones who have some fire in their belly to make it in the testing and technology world make the best of the opportunity by meeting maximum testers present there, exchanging thoughts with them, finding mentors and sponsors and leaders. These connects eventually result into more dependable support for one’s overall career growth.

I am about to attend a content rich testing conference that’s attended by big number of testers and decision makers of test department – STPCON Spring 2015 at San Diego. And therefore thought of writing few lines, to those testers, interested in hiring or getting hired, to participate in the conference and make the best of it.

Should you decide to attend STPCON, you could use my discount code – STPS15MISH to get a 10% off.

Would also like to add that I am teaching a class on “Implementing Business Context to Test Heuristics Model”, this could help the testers, in developing a transactional knowledge of various businesses and will help formulate an approach to learn different businesses and setting up the business context while implementing the test heuristics model.

I strongly recommend this class to those testers who have a good job and feel settled but would like to move up in the value chain and become a better tester and add more value to the product and gain respect as an expert. The class would tremendously help those testers, who are seeking for a change in a different business domain or are looking for a job and unable to find one in the same industry that they are familiar with.

Explore the program, find the sessions of your interest. Come and enjoy learning testing. Meet new testers, network and reach greater heights in your career.

Looking forward to see you there. Register at http://www.stpcon.com.

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.

Context Driven Testing spreading its wings

Recently, I happened to attend another test meetup in the region. To my pleasant surprise, it was very well organized by Gaurav Bansal of Xebia.

I spoke about the relevance and importance of understanding business and more importantly setting up the business context when performing testing. Further in the talk , I also bought up strategies for inculcating the trend and sustaining this business knowledge in the test teams and ways to ensure it keeps growing with new work , new testers coming in. Difference between business knowledge and business context. It was very well received and thoroughly participated by the testers attending it. It seemed they enjoyed questioning and understanding, as much as I was enjoying, listening to their perspectives, challenges, issues and answering them with my thoughts.

3rd meetup -1  3rd meetup -3

 

I had started with the statement – Testing is a cost for business and in itself adds no value. This sentence was debated by the testers in audience for good 10 minutes or more until we settled on it in the context of our discussion. Which also told me the kind of thought processes the testers were bringing in. I heard all sorts of terms – ROI, Quality, Value add, etc – coming to “Testing’s” defense. Some of the testers did seem to be very aggressively defending but it was fun.

Post my session – Gaurav and Rajneesh from Xebia gave sessions on Behavior driven testing and Exploratory testing. I could hear lot of resonance of thoughts from the likes of James Bach, Elizabeth Hendrickson and Michael Bolton. Both sessions were very interesting and informative. Attendees were loving these sessions. Brilliant job – Gaurav and Rajneesh!!

Rajneesh @3rd meetup

There was a surprise item of Lightening talks were the speakers could write their names and their talks on a whiteboard and speak to them for 5 minutes with or without presentations. There was a host of exciting topics and the speakers spoke to the topics with utter sincerity and thorough research and with lot of experience sharing examples.

Lightening Talks

 

I was proudly watching my fellow testers speak and learn through the enthusiastic cross debates amongst the attendees themselves, and with the speakers too. I had so much fun learning.

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As I was enjoying all the action &  looking around – I couldnt help but notice pretty faces sitting all over and it was such a pleasure to see such a huge turnout of women testers. I remembered those 4 girls at my earlier meetup. And then this one had so many more and all participated. It was a through treat to my heart and mind both.

Last meet up we did and then this meetup – number of women attendees increased manifold.

Women at 2nd meetup       Women in Testing- 3rd meetup

Thanks to Gaurav from Xebia and Kapil Saxena from Magic software to get so many team members from their teams to participate in the meetup.

All_Xebians

 

One thing that was noticeable was – James Bach was thoroughly loved and followed there. Everyone at the meetup knew James and mostly just him from the testing community. Mere mention of James, made folks standing nearby join our conversations. I hope James you read this blog.

This time I had a particular point on my agenda – to know what our testers thought about certification. So I mentioned that on the whiteboard and spoke on it as a lightening talk. To my surprise – everyone was looking forward to the talk that I hadnt even prepared for.

The moment I said – what do you think about certifications in Testing – the testers who had contained this thought with them for a long time now, suddenly burst with questions like  –

– What are the best certification in testing

– What are the most popular ones

– Will I get a better job if i do a certain certification

– if not ISTQB then what?

At this point I was tempted to tear apart the myths and tell these naive souls how they were getting caught in the populist theory. But I realized they were not to blame. Almost all of the attending testers said their organization gives preferences to ISTQB certification for promotions or hiring. As I tried to understand – what did they gain out of this certification – they clearly said –  does it matter?  I know i will get the job if i am certified so I will do it anyways. Plus we get a “common language” that we can speak across as testers. Standardized meaning of testing. One such tester also said – Exploratory testing was Monkey testing – only to realize later that he was absolutely wrong and the place he learnt that definition, actually taught him incorrect definitions thus resulting in “non- standardized language”. They really didnt know why would they even do this certification.

Okay – all those who are taking time to read this blog need to observe something – the speakers and topics were more than a hundred percent “context driven” in their souls and approach. But attendees clearly showed the lack of it. They were here to learn and they did learn but there will be so much unlearning to do before we learn right testing.

When I spoke to them – I mentioned that they shouldn’t focus on certification a whole lot. They should be keen on learning testing and that they should go for BBST.  And oh boy – who knew BBST there ? 2 of the lot. Only 2 had heard about it. Thats all.

But the bigger worry was – the way I looked at them – I felt they werent prepared for larger doses right now. I asked them to not bother about certification or even BBST but first go to http://www.satisfice.com and learn some testing. Then we can talk more about BBST. One of the attendees who knew BBST said – there wasnt enough information about it. Most of the attendees said – we can do BBST and would love to (after I could explain them somewhat , what BBST is) but our managements dont support them . The managements want all testers to be ISTQB certified.

As a tester who practices Context Driven testing, I have to admit that I was pleased to see what the speakers wanted to talk about and teach the crowd. But the level of ignorance testers had, about ways to learn testing was not encouraging one bit.

I am calling all CD testers to do better story telling, making ourselves more heard. We need to not only influence testers but also the managements to understand right testing.

For the benefit of those, who asked at the meetup – Will be publishing shortly what BBST means, in James Bach’ s own words. Meanwhile – go through http://www.satisfice.com.

Test Meetup – Test Practitioner’s Club

In the testing world, as I look around, there is so much going on – in terms of trainings , conferences, networking events, blogging , twitter patronizing or debating – many a times meaningful twitter talks and yet it’s always a pleasure to connect with testers in real and not limit our discussions to only virtual world. I guess that’s why we still have people wanting to attend such meets and conferences.

Without making any claims of being a learned one on human behavior and psychology studies, I think I can still safely say – It always feels easier to work with people whom you have met and can relate to them as a face and as the vibes you share with them.
Also in cases – when you are not able to mobilize the volume of folks online that you wish for, it might help to step out and meet some real transformers who could help you build a network. This was my case 🙂

With the thought of building a network of co-learners , we created a linkedin group – Test Practitioner’s Club and planned for its first meet .
We finally met on 1st Feb and though I will accept I expected more people to join in and it disappointed me to see some of the people not turning up after confirming multiple times (and we had limited seats – we could have let waiting list folks attend instead 🙂 ). But it all got compensated –once the core team present there got engrossed in the discussions.

During detailed introduction (since we all were meeting each other for the very 1st time)- I was pleasantly surprised at the profiles of the people there and how much they were already doing to support the test community in their own big and small ways. Truly impressive set of people on the core team. I can’t feel proud enough to be part of such a rocking team!!

Each one who attended, participated 100% in the discussions and contributed their inputs based on their experiences. Participants had mixed backgrounds – testers, non – testers and non- testers turned testers.
Personally for me, it surpassed all my expectations in terms of learnings I received. And I am hoping all the attendees, enjoyed the session and found it as useful as I did if not more.

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It was interesting to see the room make heavy consensus on topics like lack of value that certain popular certifications like ISTQB or even CSTE create, changing roles and needs of testers in modern day projects and the key skills required as testers.

I am amused with the disclosures made at the meetup based on personal experiences – Most of us knew James Bach and wanted to study his RST class (was a happy student moment) ; more girls prefer testing as career than boys at the start of their careers (coming from someone involved in campus recruitments, you have to believe it – But how cool is that ?? – makes me happy atleast 🙂 ) ; development team and test team on the same project are given access to different set of software and testers are not allowed to choose their set (UNBELIEVABLE – ARE YOU SERIOUS…gggrrrrrrr) ; BBST is the only test course that we could get a unanimous consensus on, by testers, to have confidence on its value and relevance to changing needs of testers ( NOT SURPRISED!! ). And then this one too -ISTQB certified testers with 0-2 yrs experience fair well in entry level interviews compared to those not certified (to be precise – certified testers knew the terms and terminologies better). These are all personal experiences shared by members of the core team and should not be taken as a generalist theory for now. However, since these are subjects of our interest, we would like to gather more data on these to make informed conclusions. Please do share your inputs on these topics!!

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As a core team, some of the objectives we have & actions we need to take :

1. First and foremost increasing membership of the group on LinkedIn -targeting 1000 members ( by when??)
2. Offer to provide trainings and activities to develop skills of local testers and to guide them on how to be better at testing.
3. Trying to find Infrastructure and logistics support with organizations within our network for meet ups and training sessions.
4. Online events – meeting on Skype as and when required.
5. All agreed to contribute in terms of time and effort and subject matter to train testers in different fields,based on skill, training and availability mapping.
6. Appealing each one of us to add more women testers to the group and work together to support more women to attend the test events and conferences all across the globe. To start with, it can be our local meet ups. Let’s bring in as many and support them in any which ways we can, to help them grow. Sometimes, even if it means going out of our way, please.

For now – status of the group – and tempo of the members looks promising with huge possibilities of value we could create together.

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Where you can help us and maybe yourself too –
1. Please join the linkedin group – Test Practitioner’s Club and participate. Also joins us on the group’s facebook page. This will help us meet our 1st objective.
2. If you have any stuff on testing that you would like to share with others – online or offline – please post it on the group site.
3. If you need to learn something about testing and you don’t know where to go – whom to learn it from – post your need on the group and surely there will be someone who can help you.
4. If you have Testing related jobs to post – or are looking for jobs in testing – please use the group for posting both.
5. Finally – my personal favorite – If you have any women testers in your network, please please please – ask them to be a part of this initiative. If they are far off and can’t take part in the physical meet- ups – its fair. So many things we will do will be online and we can connect them to test networks closer to them – where they can meet locally too. And we can suggest them online trainings given by folks like James Bach, Ann-Marie, Karen Johnson, Michael Bolton, Paul Holland and many more.
I am unapologetic about my will to have a better gender balance across geographies in testing 🙂

Looking forward to contributing in growth of the test practitioners and building a sustainable community. If you know of a rockstar Test Practitioner, please forward them the link for the blog or our linkedin group – we would like to have them on our team.

Please feel free to add your notes to the comments below or add them to the group.

Many thanks for your time!!