Interview with Simon Prior

Welcome to one more interview from “Quality Talks with TLC Speakers” series. This time we have Simon Prior with us. And I am sure you will enjoy this interview as much as I did. 

What made you choose “Growing a Culture of Quality” for your session in TLC?

“Over the last few years I have worked in organisations where Testing and Quality have not been valued as highly as they should have been, this has to lead me to try to transform the mindset so that Quality is built in from the start in product development. The story of this talk is walking through my experiences where I’ve had successes in moving the teams forward in starting to understand that testing is more than an activity left to the end of a project. I felt it was important to try and spread the awareness of what can be achieved if others have felt like testers aren’t being appreciated for what they could really bring to an organisation. I also felt TLC would be a great platform to start spreading the word on the importance of growing the culture as it provided an international audience who could all take ideas back to help their organisations.”

How different do you think was the remote format of sessions compared to in-person format? And what do you believe will change in future?

“I think Anna and team did a fantastic job in making this virtual format feel inclusive. With this and TestBash Home this year, they have proven that the barriers we all felt previously with virtual conferences not being engaging are no longer valid. I believe more conferences will go forward with a virtual element in the future, I imagine that means there will be a plethora of virtual conferences as the overhead of running a conference will be less. This has to be a good thing with more platforms for people to share ideas and move the industry forward.

Of course, as a speaker, not having an audience to feed off, made it tougher to present. But the other breakout sessions and communication mechanisms really helped with the overall experience.”
What’s the biggest mistake you see leaders making and what would be your advice to rectify it? 

“In my experience, the biggest mistake I see leaders making is all around their teams and not giving individuals the time they need (especially in the current working environment), I definitely feel there needs to be more focus on nurturing and building our teams. Learning to adapt our styles as leaders to mean we are accessible to all team members, who may all need us in a different way. Some will need the metaphorical arm around them to encourage, others will need straight-talking. We as leaders need to lean towards the servant leadership style more with our teams. If you have happy people, the work will get done more effectively. Even just simple things like checking in regularly and taking courses for yourselves like the Mental Health First Aider courses will give leaders insights and tips on how to be there for your teams when they need it. Of course, our roles to be strategic leaders first will be more effective too if we have highly collaborative/passionate/energised teams to bounce ideas off and get them buying into your vision and helping to push the ideas forward.”

How would you explain your job as a tester to someone who is not familiar with the field?

“I would talk about it in terms of a simple analogy of looking at an aircraft or other safety-critical system. Would you be happy to board a plane if you thought no checks or tests to prove its working, had taken place? Would you be prepared to have a vaccine if it hadn’t been tested? I try to then take this back to software and explain that testing is not just about running tests to prove it’s working, but also to discover and communicate as much information as possible about how the system works and ensuring that it works in the way the user needs it to.”

What would be the one thing you would like to change in the testing profession of the present day?

“I’m going to be cheeky and say two as I can’t narrow it down to one.

Let’s try and be more pragmatic in our approach to automation. We don’t need to automate all the testing. There is just as much value in good quality investigative/exploratory testing alongside automation. A holistic approach to testing is needed.

I urge everyone to help push local colleges and universities to include testing/quality engineering fundamentals as part of their software engineering/computer science courses. Find opportunities to speak to students about testing and help plug the gap we have in finding new young talent into our industry. Check out #MakeATester on twitter to discuss this further.”

 Do you want to share anything else with the TMA community?

“Please take a listen to the podcast series I am hosting alongside 3 other awesome Test Leaders. Search for “Testing Peers” wherever you listen to podcasts or check out https://testingpeers.com. We’d love to get your feedback on how we can improve in sharing ideas around testing and leadership.”

Thank you Simon for this interesting conversation and being a part for my TLC interview series.

About the Interviewees:

Simon Prior

EasyJet, Test Manager

Simon is heading up the Core QA team at EasyJet. In his career he has worked in various roles across IT from C++ developer, Scrum Master, Build Engineer before finally finding his passion in Testing. He’s worked in various domains from CyberSecurity, Gaming/Gambling and now the Airline industry.
He has a keen interest in finding ways to improve the testing process and ensuring products are released with the highest possible quality. He also loves coaching/mentoring his team to be the best they can, enabling them to use all possible tools and skills to get their job done to the best of their ability

Simon is a well-known speaker and meetup organiser in the Software Testing world and also a keen advocate for companies to consider Neurodiversity as part of their inclusion programmes.

Simon has also just launched a podcast with 3 other Test Leaders called ‘Testing Peers’, more found at http://testingpeers.com.

 About the Host:

Astrid Winkler

Astrid is a budding freelance journalist and content writer from Switzerland. Creativity is her passion and writing is her lost-and-found love which she is willing to develop with more care. Connect with Astrid on Linkedin or follow her on twitter @AstridWinkler4