Episode 108 – Share Your Knowledge and be Your Own Advocate to Succeed within the IT Industry with Lisa Crispin
Phil’s guest on today’s show is Lisa Crispin. She has spent much of her career working within the testing sphere. Today, she is also an author, public speaker and trainer. Lisa is the co-author of several books including Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Agile Testers and Agile Teams. In 2012, she was voted as the Most Influential Agile Testing Professional Person. She is currently working with mabl who specialize in automated regression testing services.
(1.02) – So Lisa, can you expand on that brief introduction and tell us a little bit more about yourself? Lisa explains that she has been involved in the industry for a long time, so has seen a lot of change. She is currently working with mabl out of Boston, a start-up that provides an innovative automated testing service. But, Lisa does a lot of other things too. For example, with Janet Gregory she has written books and put together a video course. Lisa also said that she likes to spend her free time looking after her donkeys, who are still adapting to the move from Colorado to Vermont.
(2.12) – Phil asks Lisa for a unique IT career tip. Lisa’s biggest tip is to ask questions. It helps you to learn and lets others know that you like to learn. It also helps the person answering the questions to think. As a tester that is 2nd nature for Lisa, but she knows this is not the case for everyone.
(3.04) – Phil comments that a lot of people who are new to the industry are concerned about asking questions because they are afraid that it shows a lack of knowledge. Do you see that often? Lisa says yes people want to come across as confident and accentuate what they know. But, as a tester you have to ask questions. Doing that is the only way to uncover the unknown unknowns. That only happens when you ask the right questions. Lisa explains that testers have to be big picture people. They have to keep the end user in mind at all times, which their role as tester allows them to do because they are not focused on the code.
(4.07) – Lisa is asked to share her worst career moment by Phil. Lisa explains that some years ago a company tracked her down, told her they were admirers of her work and offered her a job. She was flattered and intrigued, but still did her due diligence, after which she accepted the job. But, on the first day they did something that was not in line with her values. She knew immediately she had made a mistake, but pushed that feeling aside and carried on working with them. Within 6 months she ended up leaving and, fortunately, going back to her old job.
(6.02) – Phil asks Lisa what would she do differently now. Lisa said there were no warning signs before she started the job, but, now she would listen to her gut. She would pause and ask herself why she felt that way. Often your subconscious is telling you something important, so it is best to pay attention to those feelings. If she had done that, she would have left that unsuitable job straight away.
(6.35) – Phil asks Lisa what her best career moment was. Lisa starts by sharing the fact that helping people is something she loves, so being able to do that is a big plus, for her. She was also lucky enough to spend many years working for a company that valued, respected and trusted their IT team. The team was great they really gelled. Importantly, the IT team was involved in many business decisions and they had significant input into what tools they developed for the firm.
(9.00) – Phil asks what excites Lisa about the future for the IT industry. As a tester Lisa can see the need and benefits of using machine learning for testing. So, that excites her and she is currently learning as much as she can about it. AI has the potential to take on the burden of much of the boring tedious work, which frees up our time to do more with our brains and intuition.
(10.24) – What drew you to a career in IT, Lisa? Basically, it was the fact that she needed a job and wanted to move to Austin. She saw an advert for programmer trainees, took the aptitude test. They wanted people with business knowledge to work on accounting and payroll systems. Knowledge Lisa had because she had formally worked a government job.
(11.22) – What is the best career advice you’ve ever received? Lisa says that came from one of her line managers. He explained that a good leader makes sure people know what they and their team are contributing. She feels that this is part of the reason she has had such a successful career. The role of testers is not well understood and what they contribute can easily be overlooked. It is important tok how to get around that issue so that you and your team are properly recognized and rewarded. Phil agrees, he has also noticed that it is hard for testers to demonstrate their contribution.
(13.01) – If you were to start your IT career again, now, what would you do? Lisa says she would actually stick with testing and helping others.
(13.32) – Phil asks Lisa what career objectives she is currently focusing on. She believes that she has a great future as a testing advocate. The way she likes to work and her experience means that she is able to reach out to both the testers and the people who use their services and draw them together. She has a deep understanding of both worlds and is a good connector. Lisa also enjoys helping people to learn, so that will be one of her focuses. So, she will carry on with her blog and public speaking.
(14.41) – What is the non-technical skill that has helped you the most in your IT career? Lisa thinks it is probably her leadership skills. From an early stage she knew she wanted to manage. So, Lisa has always worked to hone those skills. Interestingly, she pointed out that you can be a leader regardless of what your title is. You just need to be willing to be a change agent and show the way to make things better.
(15.44) – Phil asks Lisa to share a final piece of career advice. Be brave and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Lisa is a shy person, so often has to do things that make her feel a little uneasy. So, she works within her comfort zone for a while to build up the energy she needs while working outside of her comfort zone, so that she can get important things done. She also points out that you need to overcome your fear of asking for help. After all, not asking for help when you need it can easily lead to a disaster.
(2.37) LISA – “My biggest tip is going to be to ask questions, you know, learn and show that you’d like to learn and learn what you need to learn about.”
(5.58) LISA – “”We all learn from failure. There’s no real failure, right? Just learning moments.”
(10.06) LISA – “I think AI just has a lot of potential to help us put more of the boring, tedious repetitive work on two machines, and free up our time to use our human brains and senses and intuition.”
(11.36) LISA – “An important part of leadership is making sure that people know what you contributed, and what your team contributed, you had to make that visible.”
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