The Journey : Early Days to How I Got Here
Right from the start of my career I tried to bring in versatility in my work experience in a specialized field. Thus, once I chose to make my career in testing, I have worked in many streams of testing services, such as functional testing, test automation, performance testing, test process consultancy and testing programme delivery management. The versatile nature of my experience helped me to explore new opportunities with relative ease and thus could scale up the ladder.
Decisions That Mattered
The first important career decision was to make career in testing, even though that time (way back in 1994/95) testing was not considered as a good choice for building one's career. Also, I have a long term career plan chalked out for me and till now I have been successfully following it.
The Turning Points
The major inflection point was when I was asked by Tech Mahindra to set up and manage the Test Automation Centre of Excellence. It was the turning point in my career. Another turning point came when I was accidently drawn into test process improvement consultancy assignment, I realized that I have penchant for the process improvement consultancy and I revised my long term career plan.
Work and Role: Then and Now
In my current job, I am bidding for a large programme to provide testing services, something which I had not done at such a large scale before. We won the deal and now I am working on preparing for delivery of the programme. The nature of this programme management will be different since I will be managing not only Indian teams, but the freelance contractors from various countries and indirectly managing the teams of our partner systems which will be spread across world.
Two Years Down the Line
I clearly see myself working as independent Test Process Improvement Consultant providing freelance consultancy to companies to help them improve their test processes. My recent certification as TMMi assessor (acquired from Experimentus, UK) will certainly help me to pursue my career goal.
What I Learnt Along the Way
There are many lessons I learnt along my way, however, I would like to iterate one major learning, one is never ever consider that you are indispensible. Any person, however important role he or she is playing can be replaced and the world moves on. This lesson has taught me not to be complacent and be on my toes all the time to learn new concepts and keep myself abreast of the latest trends in testing.
Changing Days: Lessons Learnt
As everyone is aware, testing was not given as much respect as we give today. The general notion was all those who are not so good at developing the software, choose to go for testing it, to avenge the developers who could build it. We all know that today, testing has gained much respect and popularity as one of the highly regarded career options.
Trends to Watch Out For
One of the major technology trends is the globalization of software systems and the challenges faced by testing teams due to this changing trend. Another technology trend I would like to mention is the increasing complexity of business processes (especially in Telecom industry) which is demanding more intricate and interconnected software systems. These trends have pushed me to think of the potential to work as a Test Process Consultant, who will be in demand to cope with the changing trends and mapping process improvements accordingly.
My Advice If You are Starting Out
My advice to anyone opting software testing as a career is that the person should not only carry enough technical knowledge, but should have passion for quality. You should be ready and willing to adopt the fast changing technology trends. There are many career growth options in software testing and you will have ample opportunities coming your way if you keep yourself adept with latest developments in software testing.
Must Focus Areas For the Future
One of the very recent areas of specialization that come to my mind is the Model Based Testing. For those, who possess enough technical skills required for development of the Model AND capability of carrying out testing using that model, I guess those testers will be most sought after.
Do We Need Certifications?
Certifications certainly keep you updated about latest methodologies of software testing. Preparing for certification exams have personally helped me to sharpen those analytical skills which later proved to be useful while handling multiple tasks of testing programme management.
I would recommend CSTE (Certified Software Test Engineer, exam conducted by QAI, USA) for those who have 4-5 years experience and ISTQB (basic level) for those who are comparatively new to software testing.
For the veterans with more than 10 years experience, I would recommend CMST, again by QAI.
Books/ Websites I Recommend
There are plenty of sites giving you plethora of knowledge available over internet; however, the one magazine that I like and would recommend is 'Testing Experience'. It is quarterly magazine where latest topics of software testing are covered.
Last But Not Least
One point which is not mentioned in earlier questions, but I would like to mention here is, for all those who wish to pursue a career in Quality management, please remember one Mantra for successful career over the long years, every now and then take a look at your current scope of work and the scope of work done in same month last year. If more than 80% of your scope of work is same, take it as a sign that the change is due. This simple mantra will help you build a long and successful career.