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Behind the scenes in software testing

6 August - 5 min read

We’re pretty lucky our brilliant Software Test Lead and favourite Kiwi, Angela Carne, decided to call Australia home and join the team at Spenda.

When she’s not at home looking after her two young daughters, watching Formula 1 or writing her first novel, she’s at the forefront of preventing internal software bugs, conducting software testing, giving the green light to release plans and ensuring our products deliver the best user experience possible to our customers.

Her journey across the Tasman Sea, working her way up through a male-dominated industry and battles with mental health have made it an interesting road. Catch our chat with Angela below!

What is your current role?

“I’m a Software Test Lead. My job is to work out how to make the testing process work for our software. So what to test and how to test it. Along with working out when to release products and updates to our customers. Pushing for quality in both our software and the processes behind it is the lifeblood of my job.”

What did you study before your current role and where?

“I spent over 2 years at Uni in New Zealand studying Law and Property before realising I didn’t want a lawyers career, with the everyday suit and tie combo and crazy work hours. It was fun for a while, but not for me in the long run.

I moved over the ditch to Australia shortly after in search of a new adventure, which is where I started my testing career. I then gained my Foundation Level and Agile Extension qualifications through the ISTQB (International Software Testing Board).”

Have you worked alongside many women in your field of expertise?

“My first job as a software tester was for a large financial institute. My Test Manager was male, 4/5 Test Leads were male, and only 3/30 or so testers were female. Our developers were entirely male, so the girls were greatly outnumbered. My Test Manager never treated us any differently and saw my potential, so began giving me test lead opportunities early in my career.

On the flip side, I have led a team which consisted of four females and only one male, something he found was an entirely different dynamic to any team he had worked in before. For the most part, there are very few females in the development teams I have worked in. I have found the testing space to almost always be the most gender diverse, particularly in smaller businesses.

There have been those who weren’t a fan of the outgoing, informal and younger female stepping into their ranks, so it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. I’ve definitely encountered the odd gatekeeper in IT who has actively excluded women or treated them as less competent, unfortunately. So I do feel as though I have something to prove when I step into a workplace as the only female in a leadership role. I’m also often the only one without a university degree, so I’m very lucky to have a great sense of respect from my colleagues of all levels at Spenda. I have all the support of my company to move onwards and upwards in my career and my voice has space to be heard, which is awesome. Age, gender and race have no place in defining a person’s ability to do a good job.”

How long have you been working in this industry?

“I started working in IT back in mid-2009 at a call centre in Melbourne. I was asked to help the test team learn the system and test the application with them. Software Testing was never something that had crossed my mind before, so when I took that on I had no expectations, but I loved it.

It was challenging and requires a keen sense of curiosity, plenty of patience and tenacity to make sure things get done right. Challenging requirements by finding inconsistencies, questioning usability and finding bugs always came with a sense of triumph and still does over a decade later. Quality is everything in this job and it’s still as fulfilling to find new ways of achieving that for customers now as it was right back at the beginning.”

What does your average workday entail?

“No two days are ever the same. My day usually consists of getting my kids ready, grabbing some brekkie and sitting down for the standard 30 mins of meetings with the entire development team. This is the one consistent time I have every day to just catch up and have a laugh with everyone, do our daily trivia, greet each other’s dogs and talk about what we’ll be working on.

The rest of my week involves some time raising issues with the development team that have been found in our live environments, reviewing our internal bug lists and updating our release plans to make sure I know what new software we can push through our testing pipeline and out to the customer. I meet up with our development lead and support lead to discuss what features and bug fixes we’ll be releasing for customers and follow up on anything they require.

I’ll spend a few hours a week creating test plans and cases for the team to execute, along with forming dashboards for different business stakeholders to view our progress and prioritise regression tests, data and user lists. I like to think of myself as a little engine behind the scenes giving the testers the tools they need to do the best job they can. Most importantly for my role, I sign off that the software is ready to release. It’s a great feeling when we can push that button and know we’ve done the best we can.”

What are you currently working on?

“Getting our regression tests tailored to be more aligned with customer usage. As our products grow and more customers use them, our regression tests need to evolve also. I’m also really excited to be working with the developers on implementing automated tests, as this is something with so much value that I’ve been wanting to get my fingers on for years. I have an OP about the importance and power of culture quality in IT that I’ve been working on recently too.”

What are your goals for the rest of your career?

“I would love to work in the aerospace, automotive, or aviation industries such as SpaceX, Boeing or Rocketlab. I find so much inspiration in these organisations and their leaders. I want to continue strategising on improving the testing process, and work with organisations in implementing good quality, suitable, sustainable test infrastructure and processes.

I’m also an open mental health advocate, so on a personal level, I would love to see mental health strategies put in place in IT startups across the country so we can grow as an industry with this important issue in the forefront of human resource and management strategy. I’m happy down with the little guys in the startups and small organisations, the achievements feel so much more personal and the team feels more like a family.”

Any plans on development for the remainder of 2020?

“The team is constantly floating ideas around with each other of how we can make our products even better for our users, especially around how we can save our customers more time in their day through making invoicing and purchasing faster. We have increased security for our users underway at the moment, as well as a great feature allowing suppliers to view all outstanding and upcoming invoices for all their buyers in a single consolidated view, also sending reminders in bulk which is a huge time saver.

SpendaPOS, our Point of Sale system, also has product variations underway to make the process of creating products for sale so much easier. And as always I’m putting in some hard work to fix and improve existing areas where our customers have suggested improvements. It’s all about making sure they’re happy with the product at the end of the day.”

What has been your biggest accomplishment personally?

“Working long and hard to be able to normalise my mental health battles, to a point where I can talk about them openly with practically anyone in a positive manner. Growing up in a small conservative town, mental health was never discussed. I didn’t even know what depression was until I was 19. So to be able to stand up and express what it is that I go through every day and talk to people who are in the same boat themselves, or who are close to people who are, has been surprisingly very rewarding. Implementing a mental health strategy at Spenda is important too and supported by everyone here.”

What are some of your hobbies and passions outside software testing?

“Going out hiking or exploring and watching Formula One consumes most of my weekends. I grew up a big McLaren fan and try to watch most qualifying and races even with the early morning starts. I also love following rocket launches or space news or tracking where various space probes are at.

Baking is where I go to relax and I love baking things for people, although I’ve been blamed more than a few times by the dev team for making their clothes tighter. Gaming is probably where I have the most fun, by myself or with my partner and kids, I just love playing board games, PC, Xbox. And building Lego. My collection is growing almost as fast as my book collection, so I’m fast running out of space in my house. I’m also finishing off writing my first novel, completing the storyline of my favourite board game, Gloomhaven, training for a multi-day hike in the south-west and finding the best apple pie recipe possible. Life should be full of challenges!”

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