Category Archives: My year in review

2022 in review

It feels like much less than a year since I was penning my review of 2021, but the calendar doesn’t lie so it really is time to take the opportunity to review my 2022.

I published just 10 blog posts this year, so didn’t quite meet my personal target cadence of a post every month. There were a few reasons for this, the main one being my unexpected re-entry into employment (more on that below). Perhaps due to my more limited output, my blog traffic dropped by about 40% compared to 2021. I continue to be grateful for the amplification of my blog posts via their regular inclusion in lists such as 5Blogs and Software Testing Weekly.

March was the biggest month for my blog by far this year, thanks to a popular post about a video detailing how testers should fake experience to secure roles. I note in writing this blog post now that the video in question has been removed from YouTube, but no doubt there are similar videos doing the rounds that encourage inexperienced testers to cheat and misrepresent themselves – to the detriment of both themselves and the reputation of our industry.

I again published a critique of an industry report in November (after publishing similar critiques in 2020 and 2021) and this was my second most popular post of the year, so it’s good to see the considerable effort that goes into these critique-style posts being rewarded by good engagement.

I closed out the year with about 1,200 followers on Twitter, steady year on year, but maybe everyone will leave Twitter soon if the outrage many are expressing recently isn’t fake!

Work life

For the first few months of 2022, I continued doing a small amount of consulting work through my own business, Dr Lee Consulting. It was good to work directly with clients to help solve testing challenges and I was encouraged by their positive feedback.

Quite unexpectedly, an ex-colleague from my days at Quest persuaded me to interview at SSW, the consultancy he joined after Quest. A lunch with the CEO and some formalities quickly led to an offer to become SSW’s first Test Practice Lead (on a permanent part-time basis). I’ve now been with SSW for about seven months and it’s certainly been an interesting journey so far!

The environment is quite different from Quest. Firstly, SSW is a consultancy rather than a product company and I’ve come to realise how different the approach is in the consulting world compared to the product world. Secondly, SSW is a small Australian company compared to Quest being a large international one, so meetings are all standard working hours (and I certainly don’t miss the very early and very late meetings that so frequently formed part of my Quest working day!).

I have been warmly welcomed across SSW and I’m spreading the word on good testing internally, as well as working directly with some of SSW’s clients to improve their approaches to testing and quality management.

Testing-related events

As I announced mid-2021, I was excited to be part of the programme for the in-person Testing Talks 2021 (The Reunion) conference in Melbourne, rescheduled for October 2022. Unfortunately, I had to give up my spot on the programme due to my COVID vaccination status – though, surprise surprise, all such restrictions had been removed by the time the event actually took place. But I did attend the conference and it was awesome to see so many people in the one place for a testing event, after the hiatus thanks to the pandemic and the incredibly harsh restrictions that resulted for Melbourne. (I blogged about my experience of attending Testing Talks 2022.)

In terms of virtual events, I was fortunate to be invited to act as a peer advisor for one of Michael Bolton’s virtual RST classes running in the Australian timezone. This was an awesome three-day experience and I enjoyed interacting with the students as well as sharpening my understanding of some of the RST concepts from Michael’s current version of the class.

Two very enjoyable virtual events came courtesy of the Association for Software Testing (AST) and their Lean Coffees. I participated in the May and September events suited to my timezone and they were enlightening and fun, as well as offering a great way to engage with other testers in an informal online setting.

I had an enjoyable conversation with James Bach too, forming part of his “Testing Voices” series on the Rapid Software Testing YouTube channel:

Although I’ve interacted with James online and also in person several times (especially during his visits to Melbourne), this was our most in-depth conversation to date and it was fun to talk about my journey into testing, my love of mathematics and my approach to testing. I appreciate James’s continued passion for testing and, in particular, his desire to move the craft forward.

Testing books

I didn’t publish an updated version of my book An Exploration of Testers during 2022, but may do in 2023.  I’m always open to additional contributions to this book, so please contact me if you’re interested in telling your story via the answers to the questions posed in the book!

I made good progress on the free AST e-book, Navigating the World as a Context-Driven Tester though. This book provides responses to common questions and statements about testing from a context-driven perspective, with its content being crowdsourced from the membership of the AST and the broader testing community. I added a further 10 responses in 2022, bringing the total to 16. I will continue to ask for contributions about once a month in 2023. The book is available from the AST’s GitHub.


Paul Seaman, Toby Thompson and I kicked off The 3 Amigos of Testing podcast in 2021 and produced three episodes in that first year, but we failed to reconvene to produce more content in 2022. There were a number of reasons for this, but we did get together to work up our next episode recently, so expect our next podcast instalment to drop in early 2023!

Volunteering for the UK Vegan Society

I’ve continued to volunteer with the UK’s Vegan Society both as a proofreader and also contributing to their web research efforts. I’ve learned a lot about SEO as a result of the web-related tasks and I undertook an interesting research project on membership/join pages to help the Society to improve its pages around joining with the aim of increasing new memberships.

I really enjoy working with The Vegan Society, increasing my contribution to and engagement with the vegan community worldwide. It was particularly rewarding and humbling to be awarded “Volunteer of the Season” and be featured in the Society’s member magazine, The Vegan, towards the end of the year.

Photo of Lee with Lola in his arms, overlooking the beach, Corio Bay and the You Yangs

Text is a Q&A about Lee's volunteer work with the UK Vegan Society

In closing

As always, I’m grateful for the attention of my readers here and also followers on other platforms. I wish you all a Happy New Year and I hope you enjoy my posts and other contributions to the testing community to come through 2023 – the first public opportunity to engage with me in 2023 will be the AST’s Steel Yourselves webinar on January 30, when I’ll be arguing the case for a testing phase, I hope to “see you” there!

2021 in review

As another year draws to a close, I’ll take the opportunity to review my 2021.

I published 14 blog posts during the year, just about meeting my personal target cadence of a post every month. I wrapped up my ten-part series answering common search engine questions about testing and covered several different topics during my blogging through the year. My blog attracted about 25% more views than in 2020, somewhat surprisingly, and I continue to be really grateful for the amplification of my blog posts via their regular inclusion in lists such as 5Blogs, Testing Curator’s Testing Bits and Software Testing Weekly.

December 2021 has been the biggest month for my blog by far this year with a similar number of views to my all-time high back in November 2020 – interestingly, I published a critique of an industry report in December and published similar critiques in November 2020, so clearly these types of posts are popular (even if they can be somewhat demoralizing to write)!

I closed out the year with about 1,200 followers on Twitter, again up around 10% over the year.

Conferences and meetups

2021 was my quietest year for perhaps fifteen years in terms of conferences and meetups, mainly due to the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic around the world.

I was pleased to announce mid-2021 that I would be speaking at the in-person Testing Talks 2021 (The Reunion) conference in Melbourne in October. Sadly, the continuing harsh response to the pandemic in this part of the world made an in-person event too difficult to hold, but hopefully I can keep that commitment for its rescheduled date in 2022.

I didn’t participate in any virtual or remote events during the entire year.


After launching my testing consultancy, Dr Lee Consulting, towards the end of 2020, I noted in last year’s review post that “I’m confident that my approach, skills and experience will find a home with the right organisations in the months and years ahead.” This confidence turned out to be well founded and I’ve enjoyed working with my first clients during 2021.

Consulting is a very different gig to full-time permanent employment but it’s been great so far, offering me the opportunity to work in different domains with different types of organizations while also allowing me the freedom to enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle. I’m grateful to those who have put their faith (and dollars!) in me during 2021 as I begin my consulting journey and I’m looking forward to helping more organizations to improve their testing and quality practices during 2022.

Testing books

After publishing my first testing book in October 2020, in the shape of An Exploration of Testers, it’s been pleasing to see a steady stream of sales through 2021. I made my first donation of proceeds to the Association for Software Testing (AST) from sales of the book and another donation will follow early in 2022. I also formalized an arrangement with the AST so that all future proceeds will be donated to them and all new & existing members will receive a free copy of the book. (I’m open to additional contributions to this book, so please contact me if you’re interested in telling your story via the answers to the questions posed in the book!)

I started work on another book project in 2021, also through the AST. Navigating the World as a Context-Driven Tester provides responses to common questions and statements about testing from a context-driven perspective, with its content being crowdsourced from the membership of the AST and the broader testing community. There are responses to six questions in the book so far and I’m adding another response every month (or so). The book is available for free from the AST’s GitHub.


It was fun to kick off a new podcasting venture with two good mates from the local testing industry, Paul Seaman and Toby Thompson. We’ve produced three episodes of The 3 Amigos of Testing podcast so far and aim to get back on the podcasting horse early in 2022 to continue our discussions around automation started back in August. The process of planning content for the podcast, discussing and dry-running it, and finally recording is an interesting one and kudos to Paul for driving the project and doing the heavy lifting around editing and publishing each episode.

Volunteering for the UK Vegan Society

I’ve continued to volunteer with the UK’s Vegan Society and, while I’ve worked on proofreading tasks again through the year, I’ve also started contributing to their web research efforts over the last six months or so.

It was exciting to be part of one of the Society’s most significant outputs of 2021, viz. the Planting Value in the Food System report. This 40,000-word report was a mammoth research project and my work in proofing it was also a big job! The resulting report and the website are high quality and show the credibility of The Vegan Society in producing well-researched reference materials in the vegan space.

Joining the web research volunteer group immediately gave me the opportunity to learn, being tasked with leading the research efforts around green websites and accessibility testing.

I found the green website research particularly engaging, as it was not an area I’d even considered before and the carbon footprint of websites – and how it can easily be reduced – doesn’t seem to (yet) be on the radar of most companies. The lengthy recommendations resulting from my research in this area will inform changes to the Vegan Society website over time and this work has inspired me to look into offering advice in this area to companies who may have overlooked this potentially significant contributor to their carbon footprint.

I also spent considerable time investigating website accessibility and tooling to help with development & testing in this area. While accessibility testing is something I was tangentially aware of in my testing career, the opportunity to deep dive into it was great and, again, my recommendations will be implemented over time to improve the accessibility of the society’s own website.

I continue to enjoy working with The Vegan Society, increasing my contribution to and engagement with the vegan community worldwide. The passion and commitment of the many volunteers I interact with is invigorating. I see it as my form of vegan activism and a way to utilize my existing skills in research and the IT industry as well as gaining valuable new skills and knowledge along the way.

Status Quo projects

I was honoured to be asked to write a lengthy article for the Status Quo official fan club magazine, FTMO, following the sad passing of the band’s original bass player, Alan Lancaster in September. Alan spent much of his life here in Australia, migrating to Sydney in 1978 and he was very active in the music industry in this country following his departure from Quo in the mid-1980s. It was a labour of love putting together a 5000-word article and selecting interesting photos to accompany it from my large collection of Quo scrapbooks.

I spent time during 2021 on a new Quo project too, also based around my scrapbook collection. This project should go live in 2022 and has been an interesting learning exercise, not just in terms of website development but also photography. Returning to coding after a 20+ year hiatus has been a challenge but I’m reasonably happy with the simple website I’ve put together using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP and a MySQL database. Gathering the equipment and skills to take great photos of scrapbook clippings has also been fun and it’s nice to get back into photography, a keen hobby of mine especially in my university days back in the UK.

In closing

As always, I’m grateful for the attention of my readers here and also followers on other platforms. I wish you all a Happy New Year and I hope you enjoy my posts and other contributions to the testing community to come through 2022!

A year has gone…

Almost unbelievably, it’s now been a year since I left my long stint at Quest Software. It’s been a very different year for me than any of the previous 25-or-so spent in full-time employment in the IT industry. The continuing impact of COVID-19 on day-to-day life in my part of the world has also made for an unusual 12 months in many ways.

While I haven’t missed working at Quest as much as I expected, I’ve missed the people I had the chance to work with for so long in Melbourne and I’ve also missed my opportunities to spend time with the teams in China that I’d built up such a strong relationship with over the last few years (and who, sadly, have all since departed Quest as well as their operations there were closed down this year).

I’ve deliberately stayed fairly engaged with the testing community during this time, including giving a talk at at meetup, publishing my first testing book, launching my own testing consultancy business, and blogging regularly (including a ten-part blog series answering the most common search engine questions around testing).

Starting to work with my first clients in a consulting capacity is an interesting experience with a lot of learning opportunities. I plan to blog on some of my lessons learned from these early engagements later in the year.

Another fun and testing-related project kicked off in May, working with my good friends from the industry, Paul Seaman and Toby Thompson, to start The 3 Amigos of Testing podcast. We’ve always caught up regularly to chat about testing and life in general over a cold one or two, and this new podcast has given us plenty of opportunities to talk testing again, albeit virtually. A new episode of this podcast should drop very soon after this blog post.

On more personal notes, I’ve certainly been finding more time for myself since ending full-time employment. There are some non-negotiables, such as daily one-hour (or more) walks and meditation practice, and I’ve also been prioritizing bike riding and yoga practice. I’ve been reading a lot too – more than a book a week – on a wide variety of different topics. These valuable times away from technology are foundational in helping me to live with much more ease than in the past.

I’ve continued to do volunteer work with The Vegan Society (UK). I started off performing proofreading tasks and have also now joined their web volunteers’ team where I’ve been leading research projects on how to reduce the carbon footprint of the Society’s website and also to improve its accessibility. These web research projects have given me the welcome opportunity to learn about areas that I was not very familiar with before, the “green website” work being particularly interesting and it has inspired me to pursue other opportunities in this area (watch this space!). A massive proofreading task led to the recent publication of the awesome Planting Value in the Food System reports, with some deep research and great ideas for transitioning UK farming away from animal-based agriculture.

Looking to the rest of 2021, the only firm commitment I have in the testing space – outside of consulting work – is an in-person conference talk at Testing Talks 2021 in Melbourne. I’ll be continuing with my considerable volunteering commitment with the Vegan Society and I have a big Status Quo project in the works too! With little to no prospect of long-distance travel in Australia or overseas in this timeframe, we will enjoy short breaks locally between lockdowns and also press on with various renovation projects on our little beach house.

(Given the title of this blog, I can’t waste this opportunity to include a link to one of my favourite Status Quo songs, “A Year” – this powerful ballad morphs into a heavier piece towards the end, providing some light amongst the heaviness of its parent album, “Piledriver”. Enjoy!)

2020 in review

It’s time to wrap up my blogging for the year again, after a quite remarkable 2020!

I published 22 blog posts during the year, a significant increase in output compared to the last few years (largely enabled by the change in my employment situation, but more on that later). My blog attracted about 50% more views than in 2019 and I’m very grateful for the amplification of my blog posts via their regular inclusion in lists such as 5Blogs, Testing Curator’s Testing Bits and Software Testing Weekly. November 2020 saw my blog receiving twice as many views as any other month since I started blogging back in 2014, mainly due to the popularity of my critique of two industry reports during that month.

I closed out the year with about 1,100 followers on Twitter, up around 10% over the year – this surprises me given the larger number of tweets around veganism I’ve posted during the year, often a cause of unfollowing!


It wouldn’t be a 2020 review blog without some mention of COVID-19, but I’m not going to dwell too much on it here. I count myself lucky in so many ways to have escaped significant impact from the pandemic. Living in regional Australia meant restrictions were never really too onerous (at least compared to metropolitan Melbourne), while I could continue working from home (until my COVID-unrelated retrenchment).

The only major inconvenience caused by the pandemic was somewhat self-inflicted when we made the unwise decision to travel to the UK in mid-March, arriving there just as restrictions kicked in. It was a stressful and expensive time finding a way back to Australia, but I’m very glad we escaped when we did to ride out the pandemic for the rest of the year at home in Australia. (I blogged about these interesting international travels here and here.)

The end of an era

My 21-year stint at Quest Software came to an end in August. It was an amazing journey with the company, the only job I’ve had since moving to Australia back in 1999! I consider myself lucky to have had such a great environment in which to learn and develop my passion for testing. Of course, the closing out of this chapter of my professional life took a while to adjust to but I’ve spent the time since then focusing on decompressing, helping ex-colleagues in their search for new opportunities, looking to new ventures (see below) and staying connected with the testing community – while also enjoying the freedoms that come with not working full-time in a high pressure corporate role.

Conferences and meetups

I started the year with plans to only attend one conference – in the shape of CAST in Austin – but 2020 had other ideas of course! While in-person conferences and meetups all disappeared from our radars, it was great to see the innovation and creativity that flowed from adversity – with existing conferences finding ways to provide virtual offerings, meetups going online and new conferences springing up to make the most of the benefits of virtual events.

Virtual events have certainly opened up opportunities for attendance and presenting to new people in our community. With virtual conferences generally being very affordable compared to in-person events (with lower registration costs and no travel & accommodation expenses), it’s been good to see different names on attendee lists and seeing the excitement and passion expressed by first-time conference attendees after these events. Similarly, there have been a lot of new faces on conference programmes with the opportunity to present now being open to many more people, due to the removal of barriers such as travelling and in-person public speaking. It feels like this new model has increased diversity in both attendees and presenters, so this is at least one positive out of the pandemic. I wonder what the conference landscape will look like in the future as a result of what organisers have learned during 2020. While there’s no doubt in my mind that we lose a lot of the benefits of a conference by not being physically present in the same place, there are also clear benefits and I can imagine a hybrid conference world emerging – I’m excited to see what develops in this area.

I only attended one meetup during the year, the DDD Melbourne By Night event in September during which I also presented a short talk, Testing Is Not Dead, to a largely developer audience. It was fun to present to a non-testing audience and my talk seemed to go down well. (I’m always open to sharing my thoughts around testing at meetups, so please let me know if you’re looking for a talk for your meetup.)

In terms of conferences, I participated in three events during the year. First up, I attended the new Tribal Qonf organised by The Test Tribe and this was my first experience of attending a virtual conference. The registration was ridiculously cheap for the great range of quality presenters on offer over the two-day conference and I enjoyed catching up on the talks via recordings (since the “live” timing didn’t really work for Australia).

In November, I presented a two-minute talk for the “Community Strikes The Soapbox” part of EuroSTAR 2020 Online. I was in my element talking about “Challenging The Status Quo” and you can see my presentation here.

Later in November, I was one of the speakers invited to participate in the inaugural TestFlix conference, again organised by The Test Tribe. This was a big event with over one hundred speakers, all giving talks of around eight minutes in length, with free registration. My talk was Testing Is (Still) Not Dead and I also watched a large number of the other presentations thanks to recordings posted after the live “binge” event.

The start of a new era

Starting a testing consultancy business

Following my unexpected departure from Quest, I decided that twenty five years of full-time corporate employment was enough for me and so, on 21st October, I launched my testing consultancy business, Dr Lee Consulting. I’m looking forward to helping different organisations to improve their testing and quality practices, with a solid foundation of context-driven testing principles. While paid engagements are proving elusive so far, I’m confident that my approach, skills and experience will find a home with the right organisations in the months and years ahead.

Publishing a testing book

As I hinted in my 2019 review post at this time last year, a project I’ve been working on for a while, both in terms of concept and content, finally came to fruition in 2020. I published my first testing book, An Exploration of Testers, on 7th October. The book contains contributions from different testers and a second edition is in the works as more contributions come in. All proceeds from sales of the book will go back into the testing community and I plan to announce how the first tranche of proceeds will be used early in 2021.

Volunteering for the UK Vegan Society

When I saw a call for new volunteers to help out the UK’s Vegan Society, I took the opportunity to offer some of my time and, despite the obvious timezone challenges, I’m now assisting the organisation (as one of their first overseas volunteers) with proofreading of internal and external communications. This is a different role in a different environment and I’m really enjoying working with them as a way to be more active in the vegan community.

Thanks to my readers here and also followers on other platforms, I wish you all a Happy New Year and I hope you enjoy my posts to come through 2021.

I’ll be continuing my ten-part blog series answering common questions around software testing (the first four parts of which are already live) but, please remember, I’m more than happy to take content suggestions so let me know if there are any topics you particularly want me to express opinions on.

2019 in review

It’s almost unbelievable that it’s time to close out my blogging for the year already! I published 13 blog posts during 2019, right on my target cadence of a post per month but down in number from 2017 and 2018. In terms of traffic, my blog attracted a very similar number of views to 2018 and I closed out the year with 1,000 followers on Twitter for the first time.

If there are particular topics you’d like to see me talking about here (especially to encourage more new readers), please feel free to reach out.

Working at Quest

I reached a milestone during 2019, notching up twenty years at Quest! It’s been an amazing journey since I started here in 1999 as a new migrant from the UK to Australia and I continue to enjoy a varied role working with dedicated people around the world. I travelled extensively again during the year and visited our folks in China, Austin (Texas) and the Czech Republic. The regular opportunities to travel and work with people from different cultures remains one of the most enjoyable (and sometimes most challenging!) aspects of my role.


I spent more time through 2019 helping teams to improve their agility, while still assisting widely around testing. As Quest modernizes both in terms of its products (e.g. new SaaS offerings) and processes, there is plenty to keep me busy helping the teams to deal with the different demands of more frequent delivery.

Conferences & meetups

I had another quieter year in terms of conference and meetup attendance. While I didn’t speak at a conference in 2019, I was lucky enough to co-organize the Association for Software Testing‘s third Australian conference, Testing in Context Conference Australia 2019 (TiCCA19). Working with Paul Seaman, we put together an excellent programme and the fifty-or-so delegates gave very positive feedback on what we offered. Although we had hoped to continue the TiCCA event as an annual conference, our small delegate numbers and ongoing challenges in attracting sponsorship unfortunately made it impossible for us to commit to the continuation of the event. It’s sad that we couldn’t build a sustainable true context-driven testing conference in a city as large as Melbourne, but Paul and I are happy to have tried hard with both CASTx18 and TiCCA19 providing great content for our local community.

The only other conference I attended was a non-IT event and something very different in many ways, the Animal Activists Forum in Melbourne. I contrasted the experience of attending this conference against the typical testing/IT conferences I’ve attended in my blog post, A very different conference experience.

I made it to a couple of meetups, the first being a pre-conference meetup we organized around TiCCA19. This meetup was enjoyable to organize and attend, featuring an excellent presentation by Aaron Hodder and a panel session with four TiCCA19 conference speakers – in the shape of Graeme Harvey, Aaron, Sam Connelly and Ben Simo – ably facilitated by Rich Robinson. The second meetup I attended was one of the high-quality Software Art Thou? series and saw the UK’s Kevlin Henney talking on “What do you mean?” (which he quickly modified to “WTF do you mean?”).

Community work

It was disappointing to learn that EPIC Assist had decided to pull out of the Melbourne market during 2019, resulting in the end of the software testing training course Paul Seaman and I had been delivering through them, the EPIC TestAbility Academy.

We would still love to share our knowledge and experience of software testing (and IT more generally) in a community setting and we continue to look for a partner organization to make this happen.

Other stuff

I’ve found myself reading a lot more books during 2019, a very welcome return to something I really enjoy and a useful way to reduce screen time (yes, I’m a physical book reader!). Many of the books came from the library and we are blessed with an excellent service in Melbourne (they purchased a number of books I requested through the year). Some of the books were purchased and shared with others in my office. I didn’t read testing books per se, but I became very interested in the subject of algorithms, AI and so on, reading a number of books in this area. Other areas of focus were leadership and knowledge acquisition.

I’ve also been spending more time to educate myself around animal rights and veganism, plus contributing in small ways to animal rights advocacy. It’s been an interesting change of tack to read books on these topics and also to see the reactions to my posts, tweets, etc. when this is the subject matter rather than my usual content! A handy summary of my thoughts around some of this can be found in my post, What becoming vegan taught me about software testing.

I hit another milestone early in 2019 when I acquired my first smartphone! I still find the form factor challenging and it seems unlikely I’ll ever become addicted to my phone, but I admit that it can be very handy when out and about – and Google Maps on the go during our travels made life a lot easier (though I was surprised offline maps don’t work in China, not a huge issue as we don’t drive there and taxis are incredibly cheap).

It felt like I had a much heavier workload during 2019 as well as some hefty stints of travel, so my outside projects didn’t get as much attention as in the previous few years. But I was glad to have the opportunity to organize the TiCCA19 conference as well as turning some work travel commitments into enjoyable holidays to see some new and interesting places. This time last year I was hinting at a new (personal) testing-related project that I hoped to kick off in 2019 and, while this didn’t eventuate, the project is still alive and I fully expect to get it up and running in 2020!

Thanks to my readers here and also followers on other platforms, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas & Happy New Year, and I hope you enjoy my posts to come through 2020. (And, remember, please let me know if there are any topics you particular want me to express opinions on, I’m happy to take suggestions!)

2018 in review

I’ll briefly look back on 2018 to close out my blogging for the year. I published 19 blog posts in 2018, down a little from 2017 (with 22 posts). My target cadence remains one post per month so I feel like I’ve done “enough” over the year and hopefully provided some valuable and interesting content along the way. The stats indicate almost exactly the same number of views of my blog as during the previous year, but with a slight increase in the number of visitors. If there are topics you’d like to see me talking about here (especially to encourage more new readers), please just let me know.

Conferences & meetups

It was my quietest year in a long time in terms of conference attendance. I made it to just two conferences (both specific testing events), co-organizing one and co-presenting at the other.

My first conference of 2018 came in February with the Association for Software Testing‘s second Australian conference,  CASTx18 in Melbourne, for which I was Programme Chair and local organizer. The conference went really well, with a great programme (well, I would say that!) and lots of good vibes from the delegates. The Langham Hotel was a fine venue for the event and the success of the conference led the AST to commit to the 2019 conference (and beyond) – more on that below!

My only speaking gig of the year came in October up in Sydney, co-presenting with Paul Seaman at the inaugural TestBash Australia conference. This sold-out conference featured a good single-track programme and it was great to meet up with so many friends from the testing community there. Our presentation went well and the topic (our volunteer work running a software testing training course for young adults on the autism spectrum) seemed to resonate with many people in the audience. It was an enjoyable gig all round and we appreciated the opportunity to broaden awareness of the EPIC TestAbility Academy.

In terms of meetups, I only made it to those running alongside conferences. I organized a meetup before the CASTx18 conference and Katrina Clokie drew a good crowd, with fantastic hospitality courtesy of the Langham. The pre-TestBash Sydney Testers meetup in Sydney saw a presentation from Trish Koo and a decent bunch of testers turned up at the impressive Gumtree offices in the CBD.

Work stuff

Quest under private equity ownership continues to do well. I again managed to visit our major Engineering locations during the year, namely in China, California and Czech Republic (those three locations within about two months actually!), and the opportunity to travel and work with people from different cultures remains one of the most enjoyable (and challenging) aspects of my role.

I was promoted during the year, to “Director of Software Craft” (previously “Principal Test Architect”), giving me a broad remit to help the Engineering teams across the world improve the way they build, test and deploy their software.

Community work

My community efforts through 2018 were directed in two main ways, viz. the EPIC TestAbility Academy (ETA) and the AST’s conference.

ETA – a software testing training course for young adults on the autism spectrum (in association with the not-for-profit disability organization, EPIC Assist) that I present together with Paul Seaman – continued in 2018 after the good start we made in 2017. Although we originally planned to run the course twice during the year, we only managed to run it once and I was absent for a large portion of it due to work and personal travel commitments (with Michele Playfair doing an outstanding job of covering for me). For the first time, we had a couple of students finding placements at the end of the course actually doing software testing so that was incredibly rewarding. We hope to continue with ETA in 2019 if EPIC Assist can find a way to staff and fund the programme.

At the CASTx18 conference, I was asked by the AST to more formally take on responsibility for the ongoing organization of their Australian conference. It was not an easy decision to take on this responsibility, but I was honoured to be asked and decided to accept on the basis of jointly working with Paul Seaman to organize their conference from 2019 onwards. Paul and I decided to rebrand the conference and so “Testing in Context Conference Australia” (TiCCA) was born. We enjoyed coming up with a theme, inviting our keynote speakers (viz. Lynne Cazaly and Ben Simo), running a call for proposals, and selecting our speakers. Registrations are ticking along and we’re looking forward to running the two-day conference at the end of February at the Jasper Hotel. (More details on the conference and registration packages can be found at the conference website,

Other stuff

I got the opportunity to appear on two different podcasts during the year, something I’d never done before. The first one was for the New Zealand-based SuperTestingBros podcast where I talked about neurodiversity and ETA with Paul Seaman.

The second one was a long-distance affair, chatting with Johan Steyn from South Africa for his Careers in Software Testing podcast.

These were both good experiences, quite different in flavour but hopefully of general interest and I look forward to opportunities to do more podcasts in the future.

I feel like the year has been a good mix in terms of developing professionally while also giving back via a couple of community-focused projects in ETA and TiCCA. I’m sure 2019 has challenges in store and I have a new (personal) testing-related project hopefully kicking off early in the New Year, so watch this space for more details on that!

In the meantime, all that remains for me to do is wish you all a very Merry Christmas & Happy New Year, and I hope you enjoy my posts to come through 2019.

2017 in review

It really is that time again as another year comes to a close and I take some time to look back on 2017.

In terms of this blog, I wrote 22 posts in 2017, coincidentally exactly the same as 2016! This remains well in excess of my (internal) target cadence of one post per month and my blogging was much more regular in 2017. The stats indicate that Twitter was again the main driver of traffic to my blog and it received about the same number of views in 2017 as in 2016, so if there are topics you’d like to see me talking about here (especially to encourage new readers), please let me know.


I made it to four conferences during the year: two specialized testing conferences and two agile-ish ones, and I presented at two of these four.

My first conference of 2017 came in February with the Association for Software Testing‘s first conference outside North America, in the shape of CASTx17 in Sydney. This was a good testing conference and was successful enough for the AST to bring their conference back to Australia in 2018, more on that below! A review of this conference appears in a previous blog post.

It was another trip to Sydney for my next conference in June, the enormous Agile Australia event. There was no testing-related content in sight here, but there were some decent talks (especially the keynotes) that made it worth enduring the mass commercialism of this conference. I blogged about my experience of attending Agile Australia here.

My first speaking gig of the year came at the end of June, co-presenting with Paul Seaman at the LAST (Lean, Agile, Systems Thinking) conference in Melbourne. This community-focused event had a massive range of speakers and talks over two days and it was a good chance to share our story of building and running a software testing training course for young adults on the autism spectrum (much more on this to come below). It was an enjoyable gig and marked the first time I’d co-presented, so also served as handy presentation experience (see a previous blog post for details).

My last conference of the year in August provided my second speaking gig, at the AST’s main event, CAST held in Nashville. This small conference was very enjoyable to attend, with a lot of great talks from people with an interest in context-driven testing. My talk – A Day in the Life of a Test Architect – went well with a very active “open season” of questioning following my presentation. It was also great to catch up with so many familiar faces including my mentor, Rob Sabourin, and the chance to explore this part of the US some more after the conference was too good an opportunity to miss (including experiencing the total solar eclipse from the Great Smoky Mountains national park). My experience report of attending and presenting at CAST previously appeared on this blog.

I only made it to one testing meetup during the year, that being the Sydney Testers event held around CASTx17. This well-attended meetup was a great experience and the large membership base of this meetup group continues to reflect a vibrant testing community in Sydney.

Work stuff

It’s been a good year following the sale of the Dell Software group to Francisco Partners. We’re back under the name of Quest and our first year as a standalone company has gone well with my role thankfully not really changing as a result, so I’m still lucky enough to get to work with some amazing people all around the globe. Our big pockets of testers continue to be in China and the Czech Republic with a few others in the US and Australia. I expect to visit most of our overseas offices during 2018, having only been to the Zhuhai (China) office once in 2017.

Community work

My community efforts through 2017 were all directed to a new venture, offering software testing training to young adults on the autism spectrum with the help of the not-for-profit disability organization, EPIC Assist. Together with Paul Seaman, we have built the EPIC TestAbility Academy and completed our first run of the 12-week course. It’s been an incredibly rewarding experience, with a lot of learning opportunities both for us as presenters and the students on the course.  We both give our time for free and it’s nice to give back and share our knowledge in the hope of securing meaningful employment for some of these young people. We’re also looking forward to running the course again, starting early in 2018. The programme has received a lot of interest and Paul & I have been happy to present about it at the LAST conference, within the offices of Seek and Locomote, and also at an ANZTB SiGIST event.

Other stuff

My community work on the EPIC TestAbility Academy led to a couple of co-authored articles with Paul Seaman during the year. The first appeared in Women Testers magazine and the second in Testing Trapeze magazine, so thanks to these two publications for the opportunity to share our story with the broader software testing community.

In May, I was offered the chance to be Program Chair for the AST’s second conference in Australia, CASTx18 in Melbourne. I was very happy to accept their invitation and it’s been a busy few months organizing the call for papers and ultimately selecting a programme from the submissions we received. I announced the programme in November and it’s an excellent collection of local and international talent, all headed to Melbourne for the event running on February 28 and March 1 at the Langham Hotel on Southbank – I hope to see some of you there!

It’s been a busy year professionally and no doubt 2018 has some exciting opportunities in store. In the meantime, I wish you all a very Happy New Year and hope you enjoy my posts to come through 2018.

2016 in review

As another year begins, it’s a good time to look back on the last one and 2016 was another busy year for me professionally.

I managed 22 posts on this blog in 2016, well in excess of my (internal) target cadence of one post per month. My blogging was irregular, though, with not much activity in the last few months while I was travelling (more on that later). I’ve tried to focus on quality of posts over quantity and it’s pleasing to note that my blog received three times as many views in 2015 as it did in 2016, so hopefully I’m doing something right. (If there are topics you’d like to see me talking about here, please let me know.)

Community events

The testing community worldwide seemed to blossom during 2016, which was great to see. More and more meetups and other opportunities for testers to meet and discuss their craft can only be a good thing both for the industry and for the professional standing of testers too.

The first half of the year again saw me heavily involved in the TEAM meetup group here in Melbourne. Although I am no longer contributing to the group, it’s great to see how far it’s come from humble beginnings in 2015 to now being a very active and well-attended meetup. I hope it continues to provide an avenue for testers in Melbourne to come together and talk testing. (I blogged about these TEAM meetups here, herehere, and here.)

I also had the chance to attend an overseas meetup when I found myself in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in October. It was a warm welcome at the Belfast Testers Meetup and this young meetup group showed a lot of enthusiasm and passion for testing. (I blogged about my time in Belfast here.)

My last community event of the year saw me taking part in the invite-only Cambridge Exploratory Workshop on Testing (CEWT) in November. I was lucky enough to be in the UK at just the right time and readily accepted James Thomas’s invitation to be part of their peer conference. I always enjoy these small peer conferences as they allow for deep discussion and have always resulted in me making new connections with interesting testers from around the world – and this event was certainly no different in that regard. (I blogged about my attendance at CEWT here.)


2016 was a relatively quiet year for conferences for me, at least on paper, with just two testing conferences and one agile-centric one.

First up was the inaugural Australian Testing Days conference in Melbourne, for which I was a co-organizer. It was a huge amount of work pulling the conference together but also a lot of fun along the way and I’m proud of the great event that transpired in May. (I blogged about the experience of organizing this conference here.)

Next up was my first non-testing conference for many years, the Agile On The Beach conference held in Cornwall (UK) in September. It was interesting to hear talks of a more general nature and also on very different topics – and any conference with its group party event held on a beach has to be worth attending, right?! (I blogged about attending this conference here.)

Finally, it was over to California in October to attend and present at the massive  STARWest event. As my only conference speaking commitment of the year, I was really pleased with how the talk went and it was an enjoyable week at the Disneyland Resort taking in everything this enormous event has to offer. (I blogged about attending and presenting at STARWest here.)

Other stuff

I was pleased to be asked to act as guest editor for Testing Trapeze magazine for one edition in 2016 and it was an enjoyable experience bringing the articles together, getting them reviewed, and then finalizing the content in the magazine. Katrina Clokie has put a great team in place to ensure high quality in every edition and hopefully “my” edition added to its legacy in a positive way. (I blogged about my guest editor role here.)

Apart from my usual business and conference travel, I based myself in Europe for the last four months of 2016 and this gave me the chance to do some of the UK events I’ve noted above as well as catch up with friends and family in the UK. There were also some Status Quo gigs and the tragic loss of our rock and roll hero Rick Parfitt during this time (but that’s a story for another blog post).


Here’s to a successful and healthy 2017 – Happy New Year to you all!

My year in review

As 2014 comes to a close, it’s a good time to reflect on how I’ve spent the year.

My conference season kicked off in May, with the ANZTB Test conference in Sydney, Australia. This was a one-day affair of around 200 people, organized by the Australia/New Zealand arm of the ISTQB, and its theme was “Advancing the Software Testing Profession”. It was pleasing to see an acceptance of and changing mindset towards testing in agile, as evidenced by the ISTQB starting an agile testing certification. In talking with folks during the breaks, though, it was very clear how far many organizations have got to go in terms of ‘keeping up’ with changes in the testing world, even with something as mainstream as agile. I maybe shouldn’t have been but I was surprised by the lack of awareness of the context-driven approach to software testing, at least as indicated by a straw poll conducted by Rex Black during his testing schools talk. The talk of the “schism” between CDT and other schools seemed to have resulted from Twitter wars between Rex and some members of the context-driven testing community, and it was interesting in itself that he chose this forum in which to air his opinions so strongly. A short but interesting start to the conference year for me.

Just a week after the ANZTB conference, I was flying halfway around the world to attend a very different kind of conference, viz. Let’s Test in Stockholm, Sweden. I was joined by around 150 in a stunning location to live and breath testing for three days, under the theme of “Raising the bar” – and I was also presenting at this conference (on my experience of developing an offshore context-driven testing team in China). As a first timer at Let’s Test, I loved the vibe of this event and got the impression that the context-driven testing community is strong, passionate, engaged and highly vocal. It also become clear to me that being challenged to use clear language and justify what you say is a confronting but very effective means of learning. My experience of presenting at Let’s Test was both fun and rewarding, even if my natural introversion means that the lead up to such presentations is still a stressful time – however, being surrounded by supportive, passionate people really helps, so thanks to all who made my time in Sweden so enjoyable and rewarding (and also thanks to the programme committee for selecting my proposal in the first place).

My next conference trip in August was another very long journey for CAST in New York City. This was a big one in the Big Apple, 250 folks gathered under the theme of “The Art and Science of Testing”. This was my first time at CAST and the programme was amazing, as was the location in the heart of Manhattan. The size of the conference was a clear indication of the strength of the CDT community and how it is shedding its “vocal minority” image. It was also pleasing to see that, as a community, we’ve moved on from ISTQB certification bashing as our main focus and that’s great as we have such compelling stories of our own to tell about what makes great testing. The development of a significant software testing capability in New York via Doran Jones and the Per Scholas scheme to encourage on-shoring of testing in the US was very inspiring too. I’ve blogged previously on how I saw a real turning point for the CDT community happening – the movement against the ISO 29119 software testing standards that started at CAST, we’re finding a voice and using it. My first CAST was full-on, interesting and made all the more enjoyable by the location in the heart of the amazing city that is New York. A truly memorable experience.

It was finally time for a more local affair in September with the short trip to Let’s Test Oz in the Blue Mountains, near Sydney, Australia. This first-time full conference under the Let’s Test banner attracted a keen crowd of around 80 to the beautiful Blue Mountains for a retreat-style total immersion testing conference experience. The good attendance was a clear indication that the CDT community in Australia and New Zealand is strong and growing, and the conference committee did a fine job selecting some top presentations and attracting both well-known and new talent. ISO 29119 was a continuing topic during this conference and the displays of critical thinking around this standard were a delight to see. I also noticed a shift – perhaps thanks to James Bach’s keynote here – towards making CDT, as a community, more inclusive and I see this as a very good thing. We should be welcoming those with an interest to educate them and show the value of context-driven thinking. This was a very socially active conference for me as I knew many of the participants from previous events around Australia and it was also a great chance to renew overseas acquaintances as well as meeting new people with a passion for testing. An excellent first Let’s Test for this part of the world, hopefully this one becomes an annual event on our testing calendar.

To round out my conference season, it was another trip back to Europe in November, for EuroSTAR in Dublin, Ireland. As usual, it was a big one, with around 900 gathering under the theme of “Diversity, Innovation, Leadership”. The programme was extensive with lots of well-known names as well as plenty of newcomers, so it was good to see diversity across the presenters too. There seemed to be a real focus on testing in agile environments, which was perfect fodder for me and I got lots of great takeaways. Although the CDT community was not strongly represented at this conference, everyone I spoke to seemed to have a genuine passion for good testing. I had the good fortune to sit next to James Christie at the excellent conference dinner (held at Croke Park Stadium) so it was good to talk ISO 29119 and other less testing topics with him. An enjoyable end to the conference season, with Dublin proving to be a very hospitable host city.

I get the feeling that the value of attending conferences is underestimated by many and we should encourage more testers to experience conferences and local meetups, both to share their stories and hear the experiences of others.

Apart from conferences (and the day job of course), I’ve been busy spreading the context-driven testing message wherever I can. And I also managed to see Status Quo live a couple of times during the year, in fine form they were too as they march on into their sixth decade!

I’m currently planning my 2015 conference season and writing proposals over my Christmas and New Year break. I’ve been lucky enough to already secure a speaking slot at Nordic Testing Days in Estonia in June so I’m very much looking forward to visiting another different country and sharing another testing story.

Thanks as always to Dell Software for their incredible support of my conference attendance and willingness to consider context-driven testing as a way to help us produce great software.

I look forward to hearing inspiring stories from the testing community in 2015 as well as continuing to share my stories (via conference talks and this blog) as a way of giving back to the fabulously supportive community I’m lucky enough to be part of.