After almost 15 years in the Software testing industry and after reaching a career milestone by being selected to present for my first International conference to be held in November (Check out Get out there! Share your story and Agile Testing Days: my profile ) I feel its the perfect time to reflect on how it all started.
The Story-back to the beginning
I graduated back in 2003 May with a Bachelor of Commerce degree, specialising in Information systems. It was the winter of 2003 when I decided to move to another city to improve my job prospects. After a frustrating 2 months of no luck on the job market, I was contacted by a Software Testing company who was willing to provide a full on hands-on training course and on the job training to promising graduates from around the country. I grabbed the opportunity with 2 grateful hands! We were trained on everything from the basics of Software testing, its concepts, where it fitted in the SDLC to Test Automation, its architecture and how it would be the trend going forward. I must say before this company contacted me, I did not even know that software testing existed, let alone it being a career. So I was super cautious and sceptical going into this training.
The first job
My nerves were almost immediately put to ease after week 1, where I found it a perfect match to my abilities, the thought of breaking things, being inquisitive and mixing technical and analytical qualities to achieve an end goal was something right up my ally! I never looked back. I managed to get through about 2 months of intense training and was ready to bring my skills to the working world. I was placed on a 6 month contract at the internet banking section of one of the leading banks in South Africa. A proud moment in my early career for sure. My main task was to play junior to a Senior Test Automation specialist and get Automation in place for this Internet Banking site. After 4 months the bank felt that I had showed so much promise and passion that I was offered a permanent role, and given the added responsibility of being the main and sole Test Automater on the project. It was overwhelming but I knew I could do it.
During this time I worked with some great people from Devs to Fellow testers and Senior Business Analysts, all of whom I gained vital knowledge from to help me further down in my career. At some point during my 2 year stint at the bank I was given an opportunity to change my career path and try my hand at the much more popular Business Analyst role. After some serious thinking I decided to stick to testing: my rationale as follows “Would I want to be just another BA or do something which is unique and niche in the market” (at that time). I stuck to my guns and continued on my Testing and Test Automation path. Sadly after 2 years at the bank it was time to leave, I realised that Software testing was booming and I wanted to gain exposure in the field across different industries. A strategy which I felt would stand me in good stead in order to be someone who would be seen as cross skilled and not limited to one or two industries.
Time to Explore
I then moved to another financial services company but this time a company who focused more on the insurance side. I did more of the same, test automation but this time being exposed to some Perfomance and Load testing along with business knowledge of the insurance world. After a short 6month stint there, my other half and I decided that we would like to move cities due to personal reasons.
We moved from the concrete jungle of Johannesburg to the much laid back, picturesque Cape Town. Shortly before I moved I interviewed for 3 different companies based in Cape Town, luckily I was offered positions by all 3 of the companies so I had the luxury of choosing the company I felt was right for me at that time. I decided to go to a company based in the EFT and payments industry, a company where I had to learn to cope after being thrown in the deep end. It was actually one of my best job moves as I learnt so much in this company in a short space of time. This was a much smaller company and because of this, many people had to play multiple roles. I found myself not just doing Integration testing, but rather also Project management, Database setup, networking, environment setup and so much more that I didn’t feel was part of my job duties. I used this to my advantage to understand a much more bigger landscape of the IT world. As great as this learning opportunity was, it was just not sustainable long/medium term. I decided to move once more after 9 months at this company.
My next assignment was a company based in the Software Development for Legal Market. Something very different once again. This gave me some great exposure in terms of learning the Legal side of the world and also picking up working with different Automation tools. It was around this time that Agile and Scrum methodologies started taking the world by storm. This company was one of the first companies in South Africa to experiment with this new methodology. Surprisingly I was approached by the IT manager to be a Scrum Master as he said he earmarked me as someone who has the right metal for this job. I decided to give it a shot this time but as long as I did 50 to 60% of my normal testing tasks. The whole experience was great, but after a few months I start to realise that something was missing. I was much more a do’er rather than someone who facilitates the doing. Co-incidently I received a call to join the Test Automation world again, and I must say I couldn’t resist the offer- more so because it was an opportunity in the Telecommunications industry at one the top Mobile Service providers in SA.
So back to Automation basics at this Telecommunications giant, it was no smooth process indeed. I got there with the view of taking over someone else’s Automation test suite. There were tons of scripts and all looked super advanced. The disadvantage was that there was no one present to give me an idea of what the scripts consisted of, also the Automation Engineer that created the scripts had re-located to another country. Ouch!!
It was an amazing challenge from that point on….watch my next blog post for part 2 coming soon 🙂