Friday, 7 February 2014

My first attendance at UKTMF

This week I attended UKTMF for the first time. I was accompanied by my colleagues Andrew (@CoyleTester) and Rob (@Rob_Lambert). In this post I am going to pen down my experience of  attending the event. I will not bother describing the agenda, speakers etc as all this can be found from the link above. Instead, I am going to focus on what I took away from attending.

As it was the first time I was attending, I was not too sure of what to expect. I was informed beforehand that it is not a standard 'Speaker will present - you sit and listen' kind of an event. It is an event where a facilitator introduces a topic for the first 15 mins and for the next hour everyone in the audience is expected to take part in an active discussion on the topic. It sounded like a good format but without witnessing it I was not sure if everyone does participate.

The event on the 5th of February was organised by Paul Gerrard and Susan Windsor. Getting to the event seemed a little difficult when I set off from home due to train cancellations owning to bad weather and of course the tube strike in London. Thankfully I managed to make it and it was well worth the effort!

The afternoon kicked off with a welcome note from Paul where he stressed that if the attendees were not prepared to be involved in discussions then this was probably not an event for them. Each attendee could attend 2 sessions and there were 3 tracks to choose from for each session.

I chose the 'Step up your career!' track by Susan Windsor for my first session. Susan had come very well prepared with a power point that had 86 slides!! Of course we didn't go through all of them, Susan gave a quick overview of what she intended to cover and the audience chose a couple of topics that we would like to discuss further. When the session started I was a little unsure of how involved the audience were going to be. However it didn't take long to see that there were a few very passionate people in the crowd who were more than happy to discuss the various topics. This session gave me a lot to think about and also a few tips/suggestions that I could well use.

The second session that I sat through was 'Addressing the apparent under-supply of SDETs: Take two' by Richard Neeve. You can find his blog and full slide deck here. I did not know much about the under-supply of SDETs (Software Development Engineer in Test) and this was real eye opener. Richard had presented the current situation, reasons that are likely to be behind this and his ideas on how this can be rectified. Again, the attendees took an active part in discussions. It was very interesting to see how people reacted to the topic based on their experiences of recruiting, level of management etc. What hit me more than anything else was that everyone seemed to agree that this situation was indeed very true, however there was an assumption that 'manual' testers do not like to code and hence the prospect of training manual testers to be able to take on these roles was being ignored. I personally feel that there are many testers out there who will happily learn to code such that they can fill these roles (including myself). What do you think?