I have a famous saying which is… in testing there is always a pattern, so if something does not work, you need to find the pattern that helps to resolve the root cause. I say this to people all the time and have been saying it for quite a few years now!
A long time ago (26 years to be precise), I started working for Accenture in an administration role but soon moved into a technical role as a developer where I discovered that I enjoyed testing. I evolved from there to be a tester then a test lead and now, I’m a manager leading our Quality Engineering Capability team at the Advanced Technology Centre in Newcastle.
I now look after 130 staff in the Test capability at Newcastle - managing their bi-annual talent discussion meetings and overseeing their training plans – and that’s side-of desk! My real job is currently as a Test Manager on a new project for a financial services client where I manage approximately 40 staff rising to around 75 people mid-year.
I’ve obviously been on a few projects over the years but the one that always stands out for me is my first ever project for a public sector client to help migrate them from a legacy system to a new system. I was on that project for 15 years – 6 years as a developer and the rest of the time as a tester. I think that was my grounding and gave me a holistic view of what testing could be. From there, I took on a new role to move a client from a delivery centre in London up to our Newcastle delivery centre. It was a big role and I built a whole team from scratch that stemmed from hardware to software specialists. It was my first opportunity to create a new team which I run for three years and, since then, I’ve spent a lot of my time getting new teams up-and-running for different projects. And, if I honest, the reason I’ve stayed here for 26 years is because of the teams of people I’ve been able to work with – and that’s not just Accenture personnel but fantastic clients too. It’s the people that make it enjoyable for me.
Newcastle is like a mini campus. We’ve got three buildings and around 60+ projects across all three buildings. The testing team is a very tight-knit community but because just about every project needs testers we also have a huge cross-over in lots of other areas so get to work closely with different teams and that’s fantastic. We try and keep up with all the emerging trends and technologies and from a test capability point of view we’ve created an Open Sourcing tool - an automation framework that provides a foundation and all the tools needed which saves our clients time and money. I personally enjoy getting involved with new initiatives such as this and I’m on the panel that engages with each project to sell-in the framework we’re offering.
That’s what we look for in new testers coming in – people who look at new technology and trends and think how they can use those to improve what we currently have. There’s so much technology now that you can use for testing and within our 130-strong testing team everybody has a unique skill set they can bring to the table. We have specific ISTQB certifications that we try to drive all our people towards, particularly around the foundations of software testing and agile testing and we also encourage our Testers to do AWS (Amazon Web Services) Certification and Cloud Certifications to get familiar with the platforms they are going to be working on.
The biggest change I’ve seen is the gender shift. When I started in 1995, I would say about 2% of the technical team were women - it was a very male-dominated environment. It’s a refreshing change to now see a lot more women working in testing. I would say that over 50% of my team are now women and Accenture have invested in facilitating that change with their aim of achieving a 50/50 gender balance across all our capabilities.
Away from work, I’m a single parent with two daughters. My eldest is a nurse and married and my younger daughter (who is 19) has cystic fibrosis. I had her during my time of working at Accenture and at that point, I thought my life had fell apart… but I had some amazing role models and really good help from the company. They gave me time-off when I needed it and when she needed to be in hospital - they were really supportive then, but they still are now considering I’m her full-time carer. We have a Carers Network here and I do get involved with that group at times as I find it’s a very helpful network. I also like doing charity work and have really missed this during the time of Covid-19. I like adrenalin activities and hope to get back to abseiling, white water rafting and jumping out of aeroplanes for charity very soon.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the career opportunities at our Advanced Technology Centre, visit our website.
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