Luminaries and those who have given me inspiration in my testing career

It’s that time of year again when the Software Test Professionals open the voting for their Software Test Luminary Award and this year’s candidates are:

  • James Bach
  • Michael Bolton
  • Rob Sabourin
  • John von Neumann (posthumously)

The first three of these candidates have been inspirational in my testing career as I’m sure they have been in so many others too.

I first met Michael Bolton in 2007 when Quest Software decided to bring him in-house to run the Rapid Software Testing course at the Kanata office (near Ottawa in Canada). It was a long trip from Melbourne to Kanata to take part in this course but I’m so glad that I did – it quite literally changed my view about what software testing was, a true turning point in my career – and I have Michael to thank for showing me the light in terms of context-driven testing. Looking back on this now, I realize that this is when I actually started to have some passion for my work as a tester, despite being in software testing for seven years before that.

I had seen Rob Sabourin present many times at conferences before I finally had any personal interaction with him in 2013, when he acted as content owner for the Australian Workshop on Software Testing in Sydney. I presented an ER about my work with an offshore testing team in China doing session-based exploratory testing and he was very excited by my story (I know he says it a lot, but when he said “that’s so cool”, I was rather humbled) and encouraged me to share it more widely. He inspired me to submit a proposal to talk at Let’s Test 2014 in Sweden and I gave an extended version of that ER at this great context-driven testing conference. Rob was so supportive of my proposal and also “on the ground” at Let’s Test, so my thanks go to him once again for his inspiration and continued support. (He’s also a great fun guy to have dinner with!)

When people think of the context-driven school of testing, James Bach is probably the first name they will mention. James has been instrumental in getting recognition for the ideas of context-driven testing and continues to push the boundaries and encourages others to do the same. I’ve watched him present many times and I always come away with new ideas and feeling inspired, his passion for his craft is infectious. I was lucky enough to take all of my testers to see James present Rapid Software Testing in Melbourne in 2011 and so I got to see RST from his perspective to build on what I’d experienced with Michael Bolton in 2007. A dinner conversation over Indian food and red wine was a rare treat too and it was great to see him in fine form at the recent Let’s Test Oz conference.

These are my personal experiences of three people I respect and from whom I have drawn great inspiration during my testing career. If you have had similar experiences and been inspired by one or more of these guys, then I’d encourage you to cast a vote in recognition of that. If you don’t know much about any of these luminary candidates, then please use this as a trigger to go and learn more about them and devour the rich resources they provide for you to engage and become even better testers.

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