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Sam Jarman 👨🏼‍💻
Sam Jarman 👨🏼‍💻

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Testing and Learning with Katrina Clokie

This is a article from my "Dev Chats" series where I speak to an awesome developer or techie every week or so. You can read more here. Let me know in the comments if you find these useful to you!

  Katrina is a tester, author and conference speaker.


Introduce yourself! Who are you? Where do you work?

I’m Katrina Clokie. I work as a Test Practice Manager at the Bank of New Zealand.


Who or what got you into software testing?

I entered the IT industry from a Bachelor of Computing and Mathematical Science majoring in Software Engineer. When I graduated, being a developer was the only technical role that I knew of. Once I was part of an organisation I saw that there were many career paths available. I quickly moved from developer to solution delivery engineer to tester.

Why testing? After my first two roles, I reflected on what I enjoyed and looked for a specialist area within IT that had the right mix of interaction with people, problem solving, and technical work. My move into testing was a considered decision.


How should developers and testers best work together?

As closely as possible. The more you collaborate, the more successful your developers and testers become. I encourage practices like peer review of test coverage, including testers on pull requests, cross-discipline pair programming or pair testing, etc.


How has your book helped your career? What’s the game plan there?

This question assumes that I have a much savvier approach than reality!

My book, A Practical Guide to Testing in DevOps, was primarily written for my own team of testers at BNZ. I wanted a single, consolidated reference to support our journey. I used LeanPub as the platform to write and decided to share my work in case it was useful to others. I wasn’t expecting it to be so successful. I published on the 1st of August 2017 and by the 1st of December there hadn’t been a zero download day.

From a career perspective, writing a book has created more opportunities for conference talks, webinars, podcasts, and interviews. All of these activities continue to broaden my audience and professional network.


How has doing conference talks helped your career? What drives you to give talks?

I was initially driven to speak at conferences so that I would be able to attend them. It’s expensive for New Zealand employers to fund trips to international conferences. Becoming a conference speaker has given me the opportunity to learn from and network with the international testing community.


What has been your toughest lesson to learn in your tech career so far?

There have been a lot of tough lessons. I think the worst was my first experience with sustained and unwelcome attention from a male colleague. It had a lasting impact on my professional personality and made me aware of how I might be perceived as a woman in technology.


What would be your number one piece of advice for a successful tech career?

It is never too late to learn something new.

I think this advice applies whether you want to get into a career in technology, or you want to switch disciplines within technology, or you just want to learn a new coding language. The pace of change in our industry can make it seem like opportunities are fleeting. I think that those who are most successful are those who are always willing to learn.


Have you got any hobbies outside of your job? Do you think they help your tech career in any way?

I have a lot of hobbies. I often get asked how many hours I have in a day.

Related to technology, I co-founded WeTest, the New Zealand software testing community, and continue to co-organise the WeTest Wellington MeetUp and our annual conferences. I founded Testing Trapeze, a bi-monthly software testing magazine, and have been the Editor for the past four years. I also blog regularly as Katrina the Tester.

Outside of technology, I am a leader of the Kelburn Brownies as part of GirlGuiding NZ. I’m a member of Altrusa International of Wellington, a volunteer service organisation. In Altrusa I’m the current secretary of our Wellington club, I’m the national leadership chair, I run the international social media accounts as part of the international communications committee, and I’m a member of a task force team to re-develop our international website.

I think that all my hobbies contribute to my career, though that isn’t their primary intent. These activities help me develop and practice a variety of skills.


What books/resources would you recommend?

For testing? If you’re curious about what is happening in the international testing community, the Testing Curator does a weekly round-up of software testing blogs that I find a useful summary. If you’re interested in a career in testing, I would recommend Heather Reid’s 30 Things Every New Software Tester Should Learn.


Finally, make your shoutout! What would you like the readers to go have a look at?

I think I’ve shouted enough within my previous answers :)


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