The Journey : Early Days to How I Got Here
Technically started my QA career right from first job with SKF Bearings as Trainee engineer where the job-profile was to design & test chuck-tools required for bearing component manufacturing. It was an entry to QA world using AUTO-CAD. While pursuing post-graduation in Management, got an opportunity to work with Mercedes Benz in IT services and the role was to support CRM solution development (Scoping, design, vendor selection). Later Kale Consultants Pune gave an entry to formal-IT world which was instrumental in all round exposure - VB+SQL & Installshield development, Software Testing, Test Automation, Pre-sales/Marketing, Process implementation (includes Products as well as custom build applications). And for last 9 years (with a small 6 months gap with yet-another company) witnessing Cognizant's exceptional growth and enjoying being part of the journey. Cognizant gave multitude of QA opportunities across roles: Test Lead, Test Management, Delivery Manager and SBU Head, across range of domains: Manufacturing, Life-sciences & Banking, across Regions: US, EUROPE and APAC, across types of roles: Delivery/Program Management, Account/Customer Management and Pre-sales/Business Development. Currently exposed to BFS Domain Products and have set-up Products Testing Group from scratch.
Decisions That Mattered
Opting for a formal management education after some amount of work experience, committing an adequate and appropriate tenure with an organization to build working relationships and excel in the opportunity at hand, cautiously letting-go a lucrative opportunity during 2007 with a judgment of role expectations & experience carried.
The Turning Points
Setting-up a new group/practice right from scratch has given a real high & sense of achievement.
Work and Role: Then and Now
Always enjoyed freedom of work/decision making and was fortunate enough to get the same through-out my career definitely in different roles/capacity/span of control. While career journey has been progressive through various dimensions such as Test Project/Program Management, Test Consulting, Customer management, Pre-sales & Business development, Overall delivery management including P&L/skills etc, the current role demands experience in each dimension to play a role. Setting-up a new Testing group as a practice that too on an entirely new area of BFS Domain Products was a different ball game all together.
Two Years Down the Line
This industry is all about people, process and technology. People aspect has got lot potential. Continuing to help this people community in capitalizing their talent and help excelling them in their career through an advocative role is what would be the goal for couple of years from now.
What I Learnt Along the Way
Professional journey till today has been with plethora of lessons however few important ones to quote are -
>> Build & nurture human relationships
>> Positive attitude towards the situation at hand
>> Avoid hasty decisions in pressure scenarios
>> Always be ready for change
Changing Days: Lessons Learnt
Early days of the career, software testing as an industry was still maturing and service delivery efforts were more focused towards independence in testing, benefits through automation etc. However, over years the industry has matured and gone through whole big paradigm shift and now the service efforts are more wide-spectrum based around value, innovation, customer delight, testers as users etc.
Trends to Watch Out For
From Customer stand-point, body-shopping business has taken a back seat and customers have started talking about newer commercial/engagement models - such as capacity-based/out-come based models
From Service spectrum stand-point, gone are the days of traditional stand-alone services; customers have started demanding packaged services - such as catalogue based on-demand service
From Domain stand-point, just adhering to global industry knowledge is no more sufficient, demand is progressed to regional specialization and keeping up-to date with recent changes such as regulatory
From Life-cycle stand-point, preference is more for agile kind of models than the traditional models
From Value-proposition stand-point, customers are looking for more avenues for faster-better-cheaper such as innovation, partnerships, virtual solutions
And many more ..
Each of this demands much more vigilant industry professional than what it used to be and means learning something new every-day and thats the key !
My Advice If You are Starting Out
Being complex and dynamic and highly regulated industry; product testing becomes more stringent and complicated. Life-cycle approaches & methodologies, tools & techniques, solutioning & value creation requires special attention when it comes to testing of BFS focused products.
Advice (Internal focused) for new comer would be to focus understanding the product domain, product itself, product life-cycle, differentiating aspects in testing of products, integration scenario, re-usability etc. Advice (External focused) for new comer would be to focus on customer understanding customer needs & challenges, customer's expectations.
Must Focus Areas For the Future
Domain/Technology Products Testing, Mobile Testing, Security Testing, Performance Engineering.
Do We Need Certifications?
Certification acts as catalyst in accelerating the experience spread & growth. Certifications have two sides - demand side: customer considers certifications as a qualifying attribute as they definitely see a value. Learning side: certifications & post certification efforts (such as gaining mandatory points through training/similar contribution) are few means to keep-up with the subject and knowledge area. Definitely recommend to leverage such certifications available in the market. Obvious choices in the industry are - ISTQB/CSTE for testing domain, PMP/PRINCE2 for project management, and domain specific certifications such as LOMA. However there are many other quality certifications available which can be leveraged.
Books/ Websites I Recommend
There are a number of books & websites available today in the QA space. No specific recommendations however suggest readers to refer to quality and authentic knowledge base.
Last But Not Least
Net-net, QA world is changing like never-before, customer expectations are increasing dramatically, newer technologies are kicking-in. To keep-up with the change; out-of-the box approach, being current to technological changes, executing well-thought decisions & actions, looking beyond just day's deliverable right from early age of career, being proactive & self-starting is the need of an hour.
All the best for a wonderful QA career for readers !