Hi Boys and Girls,
I know you are all here in order to read about my UK adventure at UK Star conference.
It is going to be a loooong post, so grab your coffee/ tea, gluten-free food and keep on reading:)
Some time ago, a friend of mine said that if he would speak at the UK Star conference, he would have given up speaking.
Do I feel the same? Was it that exciting? I definitely pushed my limits. I feel satisfaction and I recommend you all to attend next call for papers 🙂
Let’s go back to square one.
I arrived late at night, as Ryanair decided to postpone my flight for over 2 hours. It may seem weird to you, but before that day, I had an opportunity to be in London just once – approximately 15 years ago (yup, I’m THAT old), so I didn’t know what to expect.
Not surprisingly, modern London is huge, and even more diverse as expected. What is more, the city looks like an enormous Lego – construction work set 😀 There are cranes and scaffolding everywhere. I felt intimidated and overwhelmed since I arrived. It was raining, of course 🙂
Conference’s location, in The City, was extraordinary. It corresponded strongly with London’s vibe and diversity. Inside and outside the building it felt the same – multiple languages, opposite minds and full of fresh concepts. Beautiful interiors and professional service made it all work. We’ve been kindly hosted and no one from conference attendees felt excluded. Just from the first moment something ‘was going on’ and everybody was engaged.
Before the conference begun I felt nervous and was extremely unsure. Me – a foreign girl – not speaking English English – in the middle of a big city.
After a funny moment during the registration, when a volunteer was not able to find my badge (because my name is pronounced completely different than it is written in English), I’ve decided to start from tasty coffee. Coffee is always good to start with 🙂
Just after a few seconds a girl approached asking me about my talk and exchanging ideas in the field of accessibility testing. It was probably the first time when somebody knew me from YouTube or my blog and wanted to know me in person. I was honored. It gave me a lot of self-esteem 🙂 Go Scotland! 🙂
Before my talk, I had a chance to meet a lot of Twitter friends and finally get acquainted with them in person. What a wonderful moment, when you are able to talk to people that you admire for what they do as testers and speakers, who inspire you for a long time and you can just talk to them. This is why you should attend such events. The presentations are important, for sure, but for me, the vibe, spirit, all fantastic opportunities to talk to people were definitely more valuable that day.
I can name a big difference between Polish conferences and UK Star. In most events in Poland, attendees are the people who start their journey with testing, who want to learn anything, something to start with. They look for basic topics and workshops in the area of test automation or manual testing. At the UK Star, I had an opportunity to meet testers from different countries, with at least several years of experience within multiple projects, who came there to share their good practices, achievements and just to inspire.
As you are probably interested not only in my feelings about the conferences but in the presentations as well – I’ll try to give you some main topics and walk you through the talks I will remember.
Let’s start from the best keynote I have ever a chance to participate in – Isabel Evans – ‘Leadership, Fellowship, and Followership‘. It was my first opportunity to meet Isabel in person. Her very personal and inspiring talk led the audience among different styles of leadership and peoples’ behavior.
I’ve acknowledged also that being compassionate to yourself is a key to everything – being a good human, employee and a leader. The rest comes second. We should leave the world a better place than we found it. I find this keynote strong and a must to be heard live. If you ever had an opportunity to hear this particular keynote live – do not hesitate and attend!
I’ve also learned that our leadership style is strongly determined by the company and its rules. If there is a capacity for playing and making mistakes – there is also a space for the team’s evolution and growth.
Christina Ohanian, the Tester, and Agile Coach performed her opening keynote session – ‘Embracing Change‘ at the very beginning of the conference. I bet my manager – Piotr -probably the biggest fan of Simon Sinek in the world
would hear this talk with pleasure as I did. There were several referrals to Simon Sinek during the whole talk. To build a good test team in your company – you should definitely start with WHY and define your purpose all the time. All may change, but there should be a purpose always.
As Christina said, change is scary, especially when we are used to a particular way of working. Learning to embrace a change and adapt to the environment around us is both healthy and urgent necessity.
I need to mention @thetestdoctos ‘s – Dan Billing – the workshop about security testing. Finally, I had a chance to meet and hear Dan in person. We had a lot of fun during his presentation, as it was a PROPER WORKSHOP – WiFi was not working, there were no tables for the laptops and time was limited 😀 Dan is sneaky – he wanted us just to feel a little bit of security testing in order to invite him for a decent workshop in our companies. Best PR ever, Dan! 😀
We’ve learned that hacking is illegal. I am disappointed with this fact 😦 I’ve also noticed, that opposing to movie stereotypes – you don’t need to wear a black hoodie (as I had none that day) and you don’t have to have a wall of GREEN PHP code in front of you displayed in order to perform security testing (aka hacking). Oh maaaan. Such disappointment.
But seriously, you should definitely invite Dan to your company!
UK Star was not only about presentations and workshops – there was plenty of space to talk and exchange experiences – either within Lean Coffee meeting in the morning, in the Test Huddle area or during conversation tracks such as ‘Ultimate testing Survival / Zero to One: StartUp quality notes‘ prepared by Victor Slavchev and Yann Person. They were able to involve the audience into the conversation and bring the value to the whole discussion. From Yann’s part – I loved the most a statement saying that startups begin investing in testing just after first production failure. On the other hand, Victor’s crazy slides convinced us that we should emphasize our value as testers within our companies, as quality is an integral part of software development – not just a part after development phase.
Finally, there was also my talk – ‘Make IT accessible‘ happening that day. I was placed in the agenda within a storytelling track – together with Rick Tracy and Lena Wiberg.
I had a unique opportunity to speak up about accessibility testing and why it is so important for everybody. People were listening to me, nodding, participating in my short exercise. It was even more than I expected. I had a chance to talk to some individuals from my audience about accessibility, that gave me the feeling that there is a need to talk about it over and over again. As I believe, that no one should be excluded from our society by the software, especially people with certain physical or mental disabilities. This is our responsibility as software developers, testers, UX designers to care and to make our applications accessible.
At the end of the day, after all my preparations, it just felt great to stand there and talk.
UK Star conference was important for me. It brought value. It matters.
The conference has it’s flawed as well, of course, it has, but this time I decline to focus on them. It just was great to be there.
In case of any suggestions – stalk me on Twitter or put your comment down below. Cheers!