Episode 170 – Learn to Build a Strong Network and Help Others to Grow Your Reputation with Rosie Sherry
Phil’s guest on today’s IT Career Energizer podcast is Rosie Sherry. She founded the Ministry of Testing, which has grown into a global community of testers. Up until now, most of her IT career has been spent working as a tester.
She is also a founder of the Brighton Girl Geek Dinners and was, for several years, the community manager and co-director of The Werks Group. While there, she helped to set up co-working spaces and build the entrepreneur community in the Brighton area. In February, Rosie joined Indie Hackers as their community manager.
(1.09) – So, Rosie, can you maybe tell us a little bit about why you started the Ministry of testing and what it is up to right now. Rosie explains that about 12 years ago, she realized that there was not much of a community out there for people who were involved in IT testing. So, she decided to fill the gap. Over time, the group she started turned into a huge global community.
(1.54) – Do you align yourself to anything in particular, was this just a community that you decided to create? Rosie explains that she wanted to bring testers, from across the world, together. She also thought that it would be fun and never dreamed it would grow as big as it has.
(2.35) – Presumably, you were getting good feedback from that. So it sort of grew organically, is that correct? Rosie confirms that it is completely organic. In 2007, it was a different world. Twitter had only just got going.
(3.01) – You were telling me, just before we started recording, that you’re potentially stepping a little bit away from the day to day running. Rosie confirms that she will be taking a step back. The Ministry of Testing is much bigger and does a lot more than Rosie envisioned when she set it up. So, the person running the Ministry of Testing has to be prepared to take on extra duties.
For example, the members requested regular conferences. Rosie wants them to take place but does not want to be the one to organize and run them. She does not want to spend long periods of time away from her family. Traveling around the world running conferences is not for her.
(4.20) – So you’re in the process of potentially handing the reins over to somebody else. Rosie explains that she already has a CEO in place. They have been working together for about three years, and he has been on the board for 18 months. They have nearly reached the point where things can be run smoothly without her. She points out that she still owns the company. Therefore, it is her best interests for things to run well, so she will likely still contribute.
(5.01) – Do you think you will keep your hand in? Maybe, still attend local meetups and conferences, or will you step away completely? Her plan is to continue to attend some local meetups. In fact, she was involved in running the last one in her hometown of Brighton. The chances are she will still continue to contribute to the group.
(6.00) – Can you please share a unique career tip with the I.T. career audience? Rosie’s advice is to build a good network and get involved in the community. That is what has driven her career.
When she got started she had no qualifications. But, she networked and shared what she knew. Whenever she could, she helped the community. That included running a co-working space and helping to run a local geek girl meetup. In time, she became well known as a testing specialist.
Her advice is to find a niche you like, dive in and meet people. Write blogs, listen to podcasts to cement what you learn and help others to learn too.
(8.10) – Can you tell us about your worst career moment? And what you learned from that experience. When Rosie had her first child, at 24, everything changed for her. Her boss just started to ignore her. She found it really hard to find a job. In the end, she started to hide the fact that she had kids so she could find work more easily.
Rosie no longer does that. She is proud of being a mother and the fact that she has a successful IT career and runs her own company while raising and homeschooling her 5 kids. So, now she never hides her family life from others. She wants to show people that mothers can do things in different ways and achieve a lot.
(11.06) – What was your best career moment? The Ministry of Testing has been like one long career highlight. It feels fantastic to have changed the testing world for the better.
(12.19) – Can you tell us what excites you about the future of the IT industry and careers? The fact that there is so much choice and so many opportunities really excites Rosie. She is really looking forward to exploring, learning new tools and using them to help the community.
Every facet of life is touched by technology. This means that there is a good chance that you will find an IT project that relates to the things that interest you.
(13.53) – So, the opportunities are there, it’s just a matter of deciding and going for it. Rosie agrees and explains that the trick is not to allow yourself to become overwhelmed by the level of choice. You need to explore a bit. When you do that you will usually end up going down an amazing career path.
(14.50) – What drew you to a career in IT? Rosie was not sure what she wanted to do workwise. At the time her husband was a web developer. He helped her to get her first testing job, and the rest is history.
(15.17) – What is the best career advice you have ever received? Rosie says that you need to be yourself. If you want to succeed and stand out, you need to listen to who you are and what you want to be and do.
(15.37) – Conversely, what is the worst career advice you’ve ever received? Someone once told her to work like a man, work long hours. She now knows that letting your life become your work is wrong. No company should ever ask you to do that. You need a good work-life balance.
(16.04) – If you were to begin your IT career again, right now, what would you do? Rosie says that she would write a lot more. She did run her own website. But, she did not keep it up to date, something that she now regrets.
(16.22) – What are you currently focusing on in your tech career? Rosie is on the role of community manager for a website called Indie Hackers. It is a community where founders of bootstrapped companies come together to help each other.
(17.00) – What is the number one non-technical skill that has helped you the most in your IT career? Being nice and being kind. It is amazing what you can achieve when you do this and do not necessarily expect anything back.
(17.15) – What do you do to keep your own IT career energized? Rosie is always on the lookout for something new. She listens to a lot of podcasts and is a voracious reader. She is also careful not to let herself be sidetracked by the negative energy that is out there.
(17.32) – What do you do in your spare time away from technology? Rosie’s family keeps her busy especially because she home schools her kids. She also enjoys running, which helps her to stay physically and mentally well.
(17.59) – Phil asks Rosie to share a final piece of career advice with the audience. In the IT world, there is no need to let your qualifications define you. You can be anything you want to be. The actions you take are what will ultimately define you.
Rosie also says that you should not look for excuses. It is up to you to decide what to do and to take action.
(7.17) ROSIE – “Find a niche that they want to learn, dive in and meet people and write blogs, listen to podcasts”
(15.25) ROSIE – “If you want to succeed, to stand out, you have to listen to who you are, what you want to be and what you want to do.”
(15.45) ROSIE – “It’s wrong not to have that life-work balance.”
(17.08) ROSIE – “It is amazing what you can achieve by being kind and not expecting anything back from anyone.”
(18.05) ROSIE – “In the tech world, you can be anything you want to be.”
Personal Website: https://www.rosiesherry.com/