Episode 42 – It’s Interesting, Inspiring & Scary with Rex Black

 In Podcasts

Rex Black is president of RBCS. He is a testing leader, providing consulting, training and expert services. Rex has helped clients, from small start-ups to Fortune 20 global enterprises, apply testing best practice in a wide variety of development lifecycles. Rex is also a prolific author having written fourteen books and dozens of articles over the past 20 years.  He is also a past president of both the ISTQB and the ASTQB.

In this episode Rex Black tells us why Software Testers are having to become more technically skilled and why the I.T. industry is interesting, inspiring and scary, all at the same time. Rex also talks about his career experiences and the pace of change in technologies, methodologies and expectations.


Time Stamped Show Notes

(00:54) – Phil introduces Rex Black

(01:33) – Rex believes that projects in different business domains have more in common than you might think

(02:03) – Rex spends a lot of time travelling, visiting a lot of different countries and working with people around the world.


(02:18) – Unique Career Tip: Rex says that over the last decade it has become necessary for software testers to become more technical

(02:47) – Testers need to be able to do automation and other kinds of technical tasks

(03:13) – Rex believes that the increased use of test automation tools will continue and is also expanding out in other directions

(02:48) – DevOps, “Shift Left”, Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment are all enabled by various kinds of tools

(04:10) – Rex believes that the trend of automated testing through the Graphical User Interface was a wrong turn, both from a testing and a technical perspective


(04:35) – Worst Career Moment: Rex tells us that he was once a believer that all tests should be automated

(05:06) – Rex comes from a technical testing background and was doing operating system testing where all tests needed to be automated

(05:29) – Rex tended to see testing through the lens of a developer and focusing on what could be automated

(05:35) – This led to a very efficient set of tests but it left out tests that were inherently not automatable, such as usability and installation tests

(06:23) – Consequently those areas were under tested

(06:26) – Rex learnt that efficiency should not be the only driver and that you need to start with a smart overall testing strategy and then come up with an automation strategy that supports it

(06:53) – It was about learning how to prioritise the right things. Starting with technology in the automation was the wrong way round


(06:56) – Career Highlight / Greatest Success: Rex says that one of his highlights was the publication of his first book, “Managing the Testing Process”

(07:27) – Publishing a book is a milestone for anybody, even more so in 1999

(07:49) – Founding his own consulting business in 1994 was another highlight and felt like a flying leap on a trapeze without a safety net


(08:33) – What Excites You About The Future of a Career in I.T.? Rex says that I.T. is going to be everywhere

(08:47) – Rex recalls a quote from the 1940s – “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers” – Thomas J Watson, IBM CEO

(09:02) – We’re now in a place where we ran out of I.P. addresses and ha to expand the I.P. address format

(09:23) – The I.T. industry is interesting, inspiring and also scary

(09:47) – Reality is likely going to be somewhere between the rosiest of scenarios and the bleakest of predictions

(09:55) – For software testing and quality, we are still able to define what the profession looks like.  We can help move towards a true form of software engineering

(10:19) – It’s an amazing time to be in the I.T. industry as well as aeronautical engineering or civil engineering

(11:25) – Future generations will be able to do all sorts of wonderful stuff within the lines being defined now


(11:33) – The Reveal

(11:39) – What attracted you to an I.T. career in the first place? – “I took a Computer Science class as part of my engineering studies and just immediately loved it”

(12:41) – What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? – “Panic early and avoid the rush. Take pre-emptive action to head off things that might turn out very badly”

(13:21) – If you were to begin your I.T. career again, right now, what would you do? –”Learn about multiple disciplines and about security”

(14:42) – What career objectives are you focusing on right now? – “Keep the consultancy going and to remain relevant”

(15:53) – What’s the number one non-technical skill that has helped you in your career so far? – “My ability to write”


(17:03) – A Parting Piece of Career Advice: Rex says that we are in a very dynamic, fast moving time for technologies, methodologies and expectations

(17:31) – It’s very important that you remain focused on where things are going, how to be relevant and how to participate effectively in organisations

(17:52) – Change is difficult to predict but we are in a period of exponential change


3 Key Points:     

  1. Software testers need to be more technical than was required in the past
  2. The I.T. industry is interesting, inspiring and also scary
  3. We are in a very dynamic, fast moving time for technologies, methodologies and expectations


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