The Journey: Early Days to How I Got Here
I personally do not believe in associating career akin to climbing a ladder. In my view, a career spans (on an average) about 30-35 years. If you look at this tenure realistically, its divided into different eras depending upon the Career choices one makes. A professional era typically lasts 2-5 years. Start of an era could be you getting promoted to new role or changing the organization or transitioning to a new career or Undergoing some significant career change. In conformance to this thinking, ascending a career is primarily about making a positive difference in your role that helps the organization and its people.
I started my career with a company called "Quark Media House", world leaders in publishing software business. I was a part of a massive CRM product & not only got to understand the various aspects of Software Testing & fell in love with it but also gained crucial insights into how a large Software project is managed and important exposure to working in a global team.
Next, I worked at "McAfee Software India", Bangalore. The rich experience whatever I gained there helped me to grow through the various roles in Software Testing of fast paced consumer products and introduced me a vast domain of Computer security.
Currently, I am associated with Citrix R&D India, where I head Engineering function specific to provide Globalization Engineering specific services to entire range of Citrix products. My experience at Citrix has enabled me to gain valuable insights into Business and Management side of experience in addition to exploring the challenges specific to testing the technology that powers the Cloud computing. Decisions That Mattered
I think getting into the Software Testing domain was an important career decision. I had been from the Production Engineering stream with a strong interest and a natural inclination towards Product Quality. Late 90s were the time of Software Industry boom and it was a fad for people to choose Software development as an obvious career choice. In such a scenario, I thought joining Software Testing makes more sense, after all its always better to be a big fish in a small pond rather than a small fish in a big pond.
After having spent years in Software Testing, I of-course realize that it (considering Software testing as a "small pond") was a misplaced thought but nonetheless, it made me choose the right profession, so I am not complaining. Getting into Software Testing helped me gain a broader Software Engineering perspective that helped me scale up on non-test specific Engineering functions.The Turning Points
The careers have inflection points too - those moments where, due to events or new insight, suddenly everything is turned around or looks different. If I have to honestly look back, I would think the decision around my choosing to share my knowledge and experience with professional community by means of writing articles, delivering presentations at conferences, blogging (http://anujmagazine.blogspot.in/
)etc is a possible inflection point in my career.Why I call this an Inflection point is because of many reasons:
Work and Role: Then and Now
- It helped me connect with the professional community and learn a lot of good, relevant stuff which is otherwise impossible to learn within the closed doors of any organization.
- It helped me to think beyond my organizations environment and bring in lot of different perspectives to my job now and in the past.
- It has helped my self-esteem in a positive way. A simple word of encouragement & recognition from the peers is indeed the best form of recognition.
- It gives me a reasonable chance to leave a legacy keeping the broader picture of life in mind.
Currently I am involved in heading a multi-site (India, UK, US) group that deals with Globalization Testing and Localization Engineering, I am in this role quite for some time now and the role primarily focuses on Strategic aspect of work including Leading the site/Heading the different Engineering functional groups. I would also say that these are more of the surface level or visible changes that I see in my current job but inherently I honestly tend to work towards making positive changes in the way I do work every quarter/every year, even if I am doing the same job and role. Two Years Down the Line
I believe very strongly in Living the present and doing the best each day and each minute of the work life. At the same time I realize that it is useful to have a reasonable view of the future. In my view I should have grown in my skills and diversified myself further in Technical skills as well as around broader business/management areas. Trends to Watch Out For
In the coming years, most certainly Cloud Computing & Mobile Application Space - these technologies are going to impact the Software Testing Profession in a big way.
There are many new business models that are evolving around the Cloud technologies e.g. Whole of Test Management, Test infrastructure can be moved to cloud by many of the offerings available.
I do foresee the changes in the adoption of Usability testing in many organizations primarily because of the way Design is assuming a more Strategic place in Product planning.My Advice If You are Starting Out
In order to be a good tester, the first thing to do and master is become a good professional. Professionalism is often taken as given. I believe it is very important for the person starting his career to ensure a healthy balance between Skills required to do the job and attaining the required professionalism. I would recommend people to spend time reading "The Professional" by SubrotoBagchi to understand what it takes to be a true professional.
For fresh Software Testing Professionals, it is imperative to have passion for work you do. With Testing profession being so diverse, passion can be developed over a period of time. I am a committed runner and have learned quite a few things from running and remember one of the quotes from the Ultra-marathoner- Dean Karnazes
"Running has taught me that the pursuit of a passion matters more than the passion itself. Immerse yourself in something deeply with heartfelt intensity - continually improve, never give up - this is fulfilment, this is success."Do We Need Certifications?
My ideas on Certifications have evolved quite a bit over a period of time. Certifications "tests" our knowledge to some extent but they are in no way an indicator of Expertise. Certifications can help you do a focused study on the topic, learn the theory and application of concepts, prepare for the exam and then eventually pass it.
My advice here would be if one really wants to traverse the path of gaining the expertise, Certifications are not really necessary though it can help you setup on the path of gaining knowledge. Gaining an expertise in Software Testing, like other things, is a two-way street. Its not only about how much you feel yourself like an expert but also how others perceive you as an expert. Certifications may help in both but in general they should be treated as a means not the destination. Books/ Websites I Recommend
I think the best learning one could get these days in Software testing is by going through blogs. Blogs usually give one insights into the real life experience unlike other sources of knowledge.Some that I would recommend: http://www.developsense.com/blog/http://www.testingmentor.com/imtesty/http://testertested.blogspot.inhttp://www.testingeducation.org/BBST/
(Website with some remarkable contents to master testing basics)Some Books:
Lessons learned in Software Testing
Perfect Software: And Other Illusions about Testing