Interview with the QA Lead
Being a QA is very responsible, as you’re the last wall of the product’s quality. And being a QA Lead is even more accountable. Herman is the one who takes responsibility for all the quality checkups. In this interview, he’s going to share with us the insights into his challenging profession, his personality, and what sort of people are suitable for the role of QA.
About your job
QA engineer is a relatively new job, which you definitely didn’t know about as a child. What were your motivations behind choosing a career as a QA engineer?
When I was younger, I decided I would dedicate my life to something I want to do: something that requires my brain over other physical works. I remember helping out my father in a cement factory one summer when I was a kid, mostly hard physical labor with minimal pay. But a month later, I found myself working in the office of that same factory doing some office work instead, which is much less enduring with much better pay. It was then when I learned that I should choose a career that values my knowledge over manual labor.
How did you start your career as a QA engineer?
I studied at Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, majoring in System Engineering under the Faculty of Informatics and Computer Science. I remember it was my second year in college when I was looking for some source of income, so I found myself an internship as a QA tester, which became a full-time position after one month. However, after working there for a while, I realized that I was learning much more at work than my education, so I decided to quit and became a full-time QA engineer.
People sometimes joke about QAs that they are there to complain—do you agree?
I see it differently—we are there to prevent customer complaints; on top of that, we also facilitate the processes for developers through various means of automation. My job as a QA engineer also contributed to maintaining the integrity of our system.
Do I understand right that your main task is to write test cases and think about how to “break” the system and reveal all the possible bugs?
“Thinking how to break the system” is not about me. I barely write test cases because in our current workflow it’s not needed. We are a startup and we don’t limit ourselves by creating tons of documentation, but rather prioritize moving forward quickly. Regarding revealing all possible bugs—this part is almost true, but I’m more about trying to prevent the bugs by building tests that check software in advance before the product comes to the customer. So it is better to prevent a problem than to deal with it. And, at least, it is much cheaper.
Is it true that QA analysis is quite a monotonous work that requires a lot of patience? (and are you patient?)
I’m not a patient person at all. But yes, it is true, especially when you are new and start with the requirements. It takes so much time to dig into it, to build user flows, diagrams, understand user flows and business cases in order to cover everything and not miss any sneaky bugs.
But I’m trying to develop skills that I’m weak at, so in this case, I’m kind of trying to use my profession to build up my patience, if that makes sense.
Apart from patience, QA engineers need to be creative, out-of-the-box thinkers. Does this describe you?
It’s difficult to describe myself, but I believe I’m able to provide an out-of-the-box solution when there’s a challenging problem. The more challenging it is, the more I’m interested to solve it in an unusual way.
What other soft skills make a tester successful?
Communication is the key. As a tester, you need to communicate with all departments of the company in order to understand what is needed, what is done, and how you can test it and verify. Another important skill is responsibility. See, QA analysis is considered as the last wall of quality, so if you miss something vital it might affect the whole product.
Just as software development is evolving rapidly, the field of testing is also not standing still. How has the tester role changed in recent years?
That is a very interesting question. The thing is – I do not consider myself a tester, I prefer the title “Software Developer in testing”, meaning I’m the person who knows a lot about software engineering but is mostly involved with testing. There’s a big difference, because manual testing is not the same as it was 10 years ago, and I can even say it’s disappearing very fast. In my opinion, in the next 10 years, it will be automated and performed by AI.
So, the thing is: if you don’t understand how the software works, and you’re only able to press buttons because your team lead told you to test something, then you might become redundant very soon.
The lifecycle of a QA engineer is fascinating, yet is not without problems. What’s the hardest part of the tester’s job?
The hardest part is to be sure that everything works. Even if you tested some feature, you can’t be sure in a week or two that it is still working. Sometimes it can happen that way that you test a feature for a while, and it’s been always fine, but during a very important meeting, it just fails. That’s why I prefer to automate everything to make sure our software always works at a stable level.
As a tester, you contribute to the successful releasing of a product, you make a user happy using a quality application. Does it feel rewarding?
Yes, I do think that this is one of the most motivating aspects of my work. I love the feeling that I’m part of a successful product that has happy customers. Also, it is great when you can share with your friends what you’re doing and provide them with examples of satisfied customers (if the NDA allows you to, of course). It just makes you feel that you’re doing something useful.
Is that the most fulfilling part of your work?
I like the feeling when something that I proposed has been implemented, customers use it and benefit from it. For example, I’ve introduced an API testing approach and these tests were expanded by one of our developers because he understood that this means he can be sure of good quality.
Personally, the most interesting part of my work is solving complex tasks in order to improve QA and the development process. For example, building a UI automation framework from scratch, creating a pipeline for running an application, and executing the tests.
What’s your best advice for someone looking to become a QA analyst?
First of all, do not start learning testing if you just want an easy start in IT without experience. You definitely need some computer science knowledge or a great interest in this subject. Basically, if you can spend hours and days on your computer to understand how something works – then it is for you, but if there is no interest, and you’re going to do it just for money then it’s not. Of course, all skills can be developed, but an analytical mindset is a must.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
I do have a lot of hobbies, I’ll just name a few. I love my dog, whose name is Elon Musk, and I like walking with it every day. It’s my kind of meditation, as it helps me release my emotions and feel good in general.
Second: my girlfriend and I are big fans of traveling. Before the COVID pandemic, we traveled 12 times per year, as we had a goal to travel each month. Traveling helps me fulfill myself with new experiences, which can later be converted into motivation and strength to move forward. I also like hiking, I have recently come back from a three days trip to the Carpathians, which was great despite the weather.
I also like various sports: I did ground wrestling (Brazilian jiu-jitsu), I played squash and other kinds of sports activities.
What is your perfect type of holiday?
When I turn off all of the gadgets, take my trekking sticks and climb a mountain. Actually, my next travel goal is to summit Kazbek (the highest mountain in Georgia – auth) if everything runs smoothly.
What motivates you to move forward?
Maybe the fact of moving. I mean, when you just lay on the sofa, nothing exciting will happen to you. So I’m trying to make every day of my life full of emotions and experiences, then I can add this amazing day to my ‘emotional piggy bank’.
I know that you are fond of investing and cryptos. Can you tell us more?
From my childhood, I understood that investing is really important. It doesn’t matter how much you earn, but it matters how much you save and what you do with your savings. I did a lot of investing in my life, some were quite successful, some were not. Currently, I am investigating the US and European stock markets and opportunities, to see how they can help multiply savings. Regarding cryptocurrencies – I’ve sold all of them I had before, and I am waiting for the market to cool down.
What is your future goal as an investor? Do you plan to buy properties abroad, build schools in Ghana or create a revolutionary technology to invade space?
I do not have any kind of those goals. My goal is simple: to retire as early as I want to, feeling safe. Also, it’s amazing to fuel your car at the gas station in which you invested money. You’re feeling like a part of something bigger, even though you “own” a tiny piece of the company. It’s not only about gas stations, I can give another example: I love burgers, and I’m not vegan, but maybe half of the burgers I eat are BeyondMeat because I’m their investor and I want them to be profitable. It’s not only about foreign companies, I also like to support local Ukrainian entrepreneurs, especially those who are producing eco products.
Why did you make a choice to work for us?
I believed in people who worked here, and I liked their vision of technology, especially the part about automation in testing, this looked really promising.
Did you know anything about Global Mobility before?
Not really. But I did have business trips before that were poorly organized. That made me understand the need for our product.
Is working for an international company different from working in typical local outsourcing companies?
Oh, I had experience working with Ukrainian outsourcing companies, and it was hell. I was assigned to five different projects where priorities were mixed up and from time to time I had to do everything. This, obviously, was not how imagined IT processes in my ideal world. But, at the same time, it gave me an opportunity to collect all the information I needed, and I grew as a specialist really fast.
From the attitude perspective, I can say that when you work in a product company, you feel like you’re a part of it. There’s definitely a feeling of responsibility and ownership, which does not exist when working in outsourcing companies.
Which of the company’s values (innovation, initiative, responsibility, leadership, resilience, teamwork, people) resonates with you the most?
- Innovation – because the technical part is really important for me
- Initiative – because I’m not the kind of person who will sit and wait for a miracle to happen
- Leadership – because it also motivates me when I have a team, and we are moving quickly
Other values are also quite important, but those are on my top list.
In the nearest future, we will hire more QA engineers for your team, and you are going to manage them. What kind of people are you looking for?
I’m looking for curious people who like to not only hear about something but understand how something is made the way it is and for what reason. Someone who will find the root cause of problems, and take initiative to learn. And also, someone who is responsible for themselves.
Do you want to work together with Herman? Apply today!