Episode 17 – Being Known and Influential with Paul Gerrard

 In Podcasts

Paul Gerrard is an internationally renowned and award-winning software engineering consultant, author and coach.  He is also host of the Assurance Leadership Forum for senior assurance and testing practitioners as well as being a popular keynote speaker.

In this episode Paul talks about why bad experiences are good experiences, why you should under promise and over deliver as well as why you should volunteer for unusual activities.


Time Stamped Show Notes

(00:51) – Phil introduces Paul

(01:10) – Paul says that he wasn’t intending to be in I.T.at all but to be an engineer

(01:33) – Paul took a job at a consulting engineers firm and was introduced to their new computer on his first day at work

(01:59) – Paul says be became the office’s expert on computers

(02:10) – Paul then moved to another company, joining their I.T. department and becoming a programmer

(02:55) – Paul spent four years as a developer

(03:39) – Paul says that at Mercury Communications he learnt how to network as well as how to be adaptable

(03:57) – A lot of the activities Paul was doing would now be considered as Agile

(05:15) – Paul then became a contractor with System Evolutif, a boutique testing services business which has become Paul’s area of focus

(05:43) – Paul says that the fun he has had whilst working in I.T. is because of the varied activities he has undertaken

(06:12) – Paul is now a testing expert and a technologist, programmer and techie at heart


(07:12) – Unique Career Tip: Paul says that he doesn’t have specific advice because he’s been independent for so long

(08:07) – However Paul says that there have been times when he had to focus on one aspect in order to make progress in his business

(08:34) – Paul talks about when he took ownership of System Evolutif and decided to create his own brand in case the business didn’t work

(09:11) – Paul introduces the concept of influence which he set out to do within a niche in the I.T. industry and to become a known expert

(10:13) – Becoming influential and known became Paul’s motivation for everything he did

(10:40) – Paul says that it may not be for everyone but if it is then go for it


(11:57) – Worst Career Moment: Paul says that he believes that bad experience is good experience

(12:22) – Paul talks about a project he undertook to assess the effectiveness of a company’s testing team

(12:56) – Paul was asked to provide a recommendation on whether to retain or fire the Global Head of Testing

(13:33) – Paul interviewed the Global Head of Testing (QA), the Head of QA in London and the Head of QA in New York

(14:58) – All three people Paul interviewed believed that all was going well

(15:06) – However the team members provided a different perspective, identifying some real issues

(15:30) – Paul reported back to the CEO and didn’t provide a view on whether or not to fire the Global Head of Testing (QA)

(16:07) – Paul feels that he switched off and regrets not providing the requested view which he believes would have been the better thing to do for both the CEO and the Global Head of Testing (QA)

(17:02) – Phil says that he agrees with Paul’s initial point that you learn more from difficult projects than less successful projects


(17:52) – Career Highlight / Greatest Success: Paul talks about a project he did with BP

(18:15) – Paul was hired to be the Assurance Manager for a SAP project

(19:15) – Paul’s role was to oversee the testing on a two year project which was running one year late when he joined

(19:58) – The Programme Director asked Paul to put together a job description which needed to be just two PowerPoint bullets

(20:25) – Paul had no responsibility for delivery but was accountable for the testing throughout the programme

(22:24) – Paul was able to say that the testing had been exemplary and it then went live


(22:59) – What Excites You About The Future of a Career in I.T.? Paul talks about the diversity of his own career which has provided excitement

(23:31) – Paul mentions scale, technologies, people and politics

(23:52) – If you volunteer to do unusual things you are in a very good position to take on a very diverse range of activities

(24:11) – You will learn all the time, you will meet great people and you will accumulate experience at a great rate


(25:02) – The Reveal

(25:08) – What attracted you to an I.T. career in the first place? – “Nothing because I wanted to be an engineer”

(25:23) – What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? – “I’m not sure I’ve ever had any”

(26:29) – If you were to begin your I.T. career again, right now, what would you do? –”I would try to figure out what the next big thing in I.T. is.  And volunteer”

(29:22) – What career objectives are you focusing on right now? – “I’m working on a bot to support pair testing.  I might start to write a book on Python for testers at the tail end of this year”

(32:07) – What’s the number one non-technical skill that has helped you in your career so far? – “Communication skills – listening, writing, presenting”


(32:21) – A Parting Piece of Career Advice: Paul says that your career is not yours.  It is a team effort between you, your family and your network

(32:51) – Go the extra mile

(32:56) – You should under promise and over deliver

(33:00) – Volunteer.  Step forward.


3 Key Points:     

  1. Focus on one thing at a time
  2. Bad experience is good experience
  3. Take opportunities to volunteer


Resources Mentioned:


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