The Journey : Early Days to How I Got Here
I joined Microsoft as a Software Developer out of engineering school and currently work as a Group Program Manager for the Visual Studio ALM product line. From writing sample games for .NET developers when I started, to now being responsible for building an industry leading product in the multi-billion dollar ALM market, the journey has always been full of thrills, fun and loads of hard work!
Decisions That Mattered
My career decisions have mostly been dictated by my desire to learn about different aspects of product building in a very hands-on environment. So, I have taken on all 3 primary engineering roles that Microsoft proffers - those of Developer, Tester and Program Manager. This breadth of experience has helped me channel my passion for making a difference in people's lives into shipping great products that ease our customers' lives.
Work and Role: Then and Now
My current role involves building software while my previous job involved breaking software! As a tester, I could delight in finding bugs before customers do and making sure we deliver a high quality product. As a GPM, I need to find out what customers really want and how we can address their problems and deliver a great product. Passion for delivering customer value while shipping winning products are necessary for both roles though!
Two Years Down the Line
We are currently at an inflection point in the industry - where we are seeing a move in app building from the traditional client-server model to the connected device and continuous services model. In the next couple of years, I expect to be at the helm of a team that ships a couple of great VS services that helps users take advantage of this shift and cloud optimize their businesses.
What I Learnt Along the Way
One, there is always an opportunity to deliver significant innovation, no matter what level in the ladder you are on. I have 3 patents that were filed fairly early in my career from solving problems that weren't necessarily in my job description to solve. Taking on big problems and coming up with innovative solutions is always the best way to learn, grow and have an impact on your consumers.
Second, it is very important to have a mentor that can give you objective guidance and ask you the right questions that help you understand more about your own self. Getting the right mentor is critical - for instance, my current mentor, Amit Chatterjee, has given me very helpful advice and insight when I have needed it most, in a way that very few people could have.
Changing Days: Lessons Learnt
Developer tools have undergone a sea change in the past decade. With consumerization of IT, advent of the cloud and popularity of devices, newer application patterns are emerging - it is important to live the change to respond to it. Social networking has also changed the way we interact with the community and learn from them. I love tweeting on http://twitter.com/anutthara
Trends to Watch Out For
Cloud computing is an obvious trend that is extremely interesting. The way we think about infrastructure, software delivery, cost, high compute scenarios with big data is all fundamentally changing with the cloud becoming more mainstream. Agile testing is another trend that is making testers reimagine the way they do testing on modern products, encouraging more creative and lightweight styles of testing like exploratory testing.
My Advice If You are Starting Out
Irrespective of domain, my advice to newbies would be - think of newer possibilities, challenge status quo.
For example, a lot of the problems in today's testing tool industry have been the sharp divide the old tools promote between testers and the rest of the team resulting in code getting thrown over across the wall. When thinking of how we build our test focused tools in Visual Studio ALM, we decided to go beyond what is available in the market today and build a real sustainable solution that would break those divides between testers and the rest of the team and help the entire team speak a common language to be more productive.
Must Focus Areas For the Future
The QA industry has started seeing signs of change lately with QA teams becoming less siloed. It is critical for testers to really take ownership of the product and focus on customer value.
With apps using cloud based services becoming popular, there will be greater demand for specific facets of cloud and mobile testing. For instance, testing in production is a new way of testing that can give the most accurate picture of your service's availability, reliability, perf and responsiveness in ways that traditional in-the-lab testing cannot guarantee. Familiarity with production ops will be very useful for testers in this mode.
Do We Need Certifications?
I don't have any certifications myself. Well-designed certifications are useful for practitioners that want mastery over a tool or a practice in a compressed amount of time. I would recommend that you be clear about what your goals are from gaining the certification and ensure that the org offering certification is a credible one and is able to meet your goals.
Books/ Websites I Recommend
I love the thought-provoking blogs of James Bach, Lisa Crispin, Elisabeth Hendrickson and Michael Hunter related to software testing. I contributed to James Whittaker's book "Exploratory Testing" - so recommending that might be a conflict of interest. In general I would advise folks wanting to excel in QA to also be aware of general technology updates by trawling tech news sites like arstechnica, mashable etc.
Last But Not Least
Always focus on how you are solving a given problem and refuse to be boxed into only a specific set of responsibilities. End of the day, the only thing that matters was not how many lines of code you wrote or how many bugs you found, but whether you really solved the problem you set out to and made your consumer's life easier.