EuroSTAR 2015 – Do-over session – Julie Gardiner’s Survival Skills for Testers

I was very sorry, when I missed the original talk from Julie Gardiner on Day 2. The merrier I was that her talk was selected for the do-over session, the session that people wanted to see again, wanted others to see it, or wanted to see it the first time. The do-over session is voted for by the audience.

The introduction was planned by Declan, but Colin Cherry, or better Klaas Kers for a couple of days, got the honor to introduce his long time friend Julie.


Julie’s talk was all about what a tester needs to do today, to stay relevant tomorrow. A topic that I can’t agree more on. In times of rapid-changing technology, new approaches to development, faster times to market, it’s important for testers to improve their skills to have a job tomorrow. I have heard now more than once, that most of people working in “test” today, won’t work in test anymore in a couple of years. Those who want to, should better listen to what Julie has to say.


The first point is about mentality. Testers should no longer be the “quality police”, better see yourself as the “enabler of quality”. Testers need to provide value throughout the software development lifecycle. That works much better with a helper mentality than an enforcer. Enable by being a trusted advisor, the conscience, trainer and coach, quality guru, provide guidance, and implement quality in the whole lifecycle.

You should have a passion for testing. “If testing isn’t fun, you are doing it wrong!” This sentence is so much worth. You can make testing fun, by constant learning (new stuff), seeing improvements and make them happen, and find opportunities to test everything. Testing can be so much fun, if done right.
You need to understand your skills, and how to foster them. Julie suggests the Dreyfus model and an evaluation of your style of testing. Evaluate your scores, sum up the left columns for both X- and Y-axis, and place your dot on the map. Then you see what kind of tester you are:

IMG_4120 IMG_4124 IMG_4125 IMG_4126 IMG_4127

“Take ownership of your career” is an important message. Most people still expect their companies to help them with their career. But many companies can’t or don’t want to afford the huge amounts of time and money that it needs in current times to stay up-to-date and relevant, especially in testing. So you need to take care for yourself, if you still want to be relevant tomorrow.
What you can do, is learn (self-education), find a mentor who helps you, and create an action plan of where you want to go and how you want to get there.

Demonstrate and report the value of testing. Testing is expensive, but compared to what? Not testing is not an option. So show value by how much you saved the company, demonstrate effectiveness and use a language management can understand. Risk rules! Test cases don’t!

And it’s import to retain your integrity. “Integrity is the consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, and principles.” Avoid being a “yes” person. Be the conscience of the project management. And stand up and be counted! That was in reference to a story Julie told about an experiment in an elementary school, where someone convinced the class to trick one girl by saying that 2+2 is 5. When the teacher asked what 2+2 is, and everyone said it’s 5, the girl, who was still convinced that it’s 4, said it’s 5, because she didn’t want to stand up/ against the class.
As a tester it’s important to be the one who stands up!

Choose your battles wisely. Only some battles are worth fighting for. Save your energy and choose wisely!

Survival means standing out and making a difference. Julie closed with a quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt: “There are many ways of going forward, but only one way to stand still.”


My personal summary is, that this was one of the best talks I have seen at EuroSTAR, and I am so glad that I had the chance to see it in the do-over session. Julie has a wonderful stage presence and an enthusiastic way of delivering her talk. She was left, center and right, interacting with her slides and the audience, using the whole stage. The great topic and her presence made it really an outstanding talk.
I was just sitting there, nodding. The topic is spot on, I greatly support all she presented, and I hope that everyone who talks about that topic reaches many people.
I had the chance to thank Julie in person for her talk, and I would have loved to spend more time talking to her. Colin was so right about her! Thank you.


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