Magical Number 24
A double interview ft. our youngest and most experienced Testing Tobian
Some numbers bring luck, while some others bring together our Tobians. And so, accordingly, the magical digit 24. Did you know that our Test Engineer Andres Vierendeels will soon turn 24? And that our Test Specialist Sandrine Rolland is celebrating her 24th Tobania birthday? Two wonderful life events which are guaranteed to bring great stories. That’s why we gathered our two Testing Tobians around the table for a cosy chat.
Andres Vierendeels – Test Engineer
Can you briefly introduce yourself, Andres?
I am Andres, 23 years old (turning 24 in December) and currently working as a Test Engineer at Tobania for two years.
What’s your favourite part of the job?
What I like most is being able to turn something that is actually riddled with bugs and problems into a beautiful end result. The entire process of that is just awesome. How much fun is it to witness an application or part of an application grow, so that at the end you can proudly say that you contributed to it?
What makes Tobania such a desirable employer for a young professional?
One of Tobania’s greatest assets (in my opinion at least) is the atmosphere within the units. Even though we only see each other to a limited extent, whenever we get together with the whole unit, an open atmosphere immediately prevails between everyone.
You can also take courses at your own pace. Some people take longer than others. So, it is a pleasure that the choice is entirely up to you how fast you want to learn about different subjects.
Finally, your fields of interest are always taken into consideration. I notice that my project focus areas already differ somewhat from those of when I just graduated. Tobania pays enormous attention to that. For example, at this moment I’m being guided to make my next career switch. That does give a huge sense of reassurance as it will be quite different from the current project I’m working on.
What is the dream project you would like to work on in the coming years?
My dream in the coming years is to fully experience a project from start to finish. From the initial testing analysis to the final ‘;’ in the tool used for test automation. Both topics intrigue me and fit perfectly into the world of a T-shaped profile of a tester.
“I hope to experience an AI project sometime in the distant future. Either to test or to collaborate on tools integrating AI.”
Our industry is constantly changing, what direction do you hope it will take the following 24 years? What future trend are you hoping to experience?
AI is something that is becoming very popular. Just think of the chatbot assisting you with a problem from an item bought online to automotive components. Eventually, AI is going to be better developed and might be used for other things as well. I hope to experience an AI project sometime in the distant future. Either to test or to collaborate on tools integrating AI.
What would you still like to learn in your career?
I still have a lot to learn in my career. And there are so many things that I wish to acquire. I’ll probably learn most things just by running into it on projects or among colleagues. Anyway, to make it a bit more concrete, I would like to advance beyond Agile Scrum Foundation and the ISTQB foundation level. For instance, I definitely wish to master more technical things like Selenium as well as non-Selenium.
What is your craziest, professional dream in life?
My craziest dream is to eventually be part of the management team. It’s a dream I’ve had since I was working summer jobs, yet it still lingers in my head.
“I think patience is the key to building a professional career. It’s all about putting your expectations within a respectable margin.”
Your colleague Sandrine has been working at Tobania for 24 years, what do you think is the secret recipe to build a full professional career over here?
I think patience is the key to building a professional career. It’s all about putting your expectations within a respectable margin. I still have many years to go before my career comes to an end, so I have the time and patience to shift certain matters to next year or the year after. I suppose expectations set too high could lead to disappointment. Forcing yourself to get ahead of yourself too quickly could have negative consequences.
Where do you see yourself in 24 years?
With technology constantly changing, that’s hard to say. But I do hope that I would definitely specialise in something. Right now, I’m mainly aiming at UI Automation Testing, as well as helping other people with the same interest getting on board in this area.
What advice would you ask of an experienced professional like Sandrine? And why?
I would ask her how she deals with technology that is constantly changing? There are so many new tools and practices emerging that it might sometimes be a bit too much to hold on to. So, I’m curious to know!
Sandrine Roland – Test Specialist
Can you briefly introduce yourself, Sandrine?
I am 49-year-old Test Engineer, working at Tobania (and before that at Saga Consulting, T-systems, Debis, Comexis and EGT). I have been working since 1998, so up to you to do the math!
What’s your favourite part of the job?
My job involves validating the quality of the software being delivered. I love the moment when we put all the parts together and make sure everything works as expected.
Do you remember your first day at Tobania? What was it like?
It was many years ago, but I remember it! As we did not have an office, my first working day (in 1998) took place at the client’s office, Group S (the Secretariat Social). The fun part was that some colleagues were already working at the same company. Our project was related to the 2000 Bug. We needed to rewrite the software as the old one would not make it to 2000.
Which project of the past 24 years are you most proud of?
I am not proud of any of my projects in particular, as they all had interesting and challenging aspects. I would say I am proudest that I was able to adapt to the client’s way of working and mentality, and integrate with the teams each time. It was usually a sad moment when I had to leave the client to start another assignment, but that is the life of a consultant.
“The Agile methodology has brought more rhythm and a better opportunity to meet customer expectations and needs.”
How have you seen Tobania and the industry evolve over the past 24 years? How?
IT consulting has evolved a lot over the years. First of all, my current role in quality assurance did not really exist at the beginning of my career. Only over the years did people realised that testing is necessary to ensure the quality of the product to be delivered.
The Agile methodology has also completely changed the way I do my work and as well as the energy within the teams. It has brought more rhythm and a better opportunity to meet customer expectations and needs.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have acquired in your career?
I learned that you have to be able to adapt to customer needs in a fast-moving market, take on new challenges and change orientation when necessary. For instance, I started as a Developer, moved on to Business Analyst, and eventually discovered Quality Assurance and Testing.
What would you have done differently during your career?
To be honest, I wouldn’t have changed anything. I am quite happy with my choices.
What is your finest memory?
It’s more of an anecdote. In late 1998, during the Christmas party at EGT, my colleagues and I were given our first mobile phone, a Nokia 5110. It was a big surprise to be one of the first in Belgium to actually own a mobile phone!
Looking ahead to the next years to come, what would you still like to achieve professionally?
Most of the projects I worked on during my career were mainly in the financial sector. I would like to make my services and experience available to other types of organisations that serve humanity and help improve our quality of life and build a better world.
“Be Agile! Adapt to the client’s needs, but at the same time, make sure you follow your own path and your own expectations.”
Andres finds himself pretty much at the beginning of his professional career, what is the ultimate tip you would like to pass on to him?
Andres, getting back to your advice request: follow the same methodology in your professional life as in your IT projects: be Agile! Adapt to the client’s needs, but at the same time, make sure you follow your own path and your own expectations. Be prepared to face challenges, even if you think they exceed your limits.
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