Global Tester Series – Interview with Sundaresan Krishnaswami

    To commemorate World Tester’s Day, we at “Trending in Testing” have started an initiative “Global Tester Series”. As a part of this initiative, we have interviewed some amazing Software Testers and we will be sharing their responses with our community. We believe this will inspire other testers and will also provide them with a lot of valuable insights.

    The first article in the series is an interview with Sundaresan Krishnaswami, Test Architect at IBM. Sundaresan is a seasoned software professional with over two decades of hands-on experience in delivering quality products with the right set of tools, frameworks, and processes. He shares his knowledge and experiences in various meetups, conferences, and with the help of his blog.

    Without further ado, let’s dive into the interview session with Sundaresan Krishnaswami.

    Question 1. Could you please share your story about how you paved your path into Software Testing?

    Sundaresan: I started as a Unix Support Engineer supporting a huge server farm. The company was developing multiple products to automate several customer functions. I was tasked to share feedback on each product before it was released.

    Those were the days when Quality Assurance was not a separate function. It was the developer’s responsibility. I happened to share some critical feedback and slowly set up a Test Management tool to report issues between myself and the developers. The CTO noticed this and asked me to start the quality management function full-time. We grew into a team of 10 along with a manager. That is how I came about working in Software Testing.

    Question 2. Who is your inspiration or mentor to guide you towards your journey?

    Sundaresan: There are two ABs who had a remarkable effect on my journey. One is Abhijit Bhide who was my mentor and guide who turned my career for the better, from a reluctant engineer to someone who could make a difference in an organization.

    The other is Ajay Balamurugadas who was a great colleague, is a great friend, and always an inspiration to me. I was an underdog until I met him. Working with him kindled my competitive spirit and I have taken up more risks and challenges since then. His calm demeanor and my restless spirit have been a good match that helped us deliver business value, co-author a useful book, and continue to collaborate on ideas whenever we get a chance.

    Question 3. What are the common challenges that you face as a Software Tester? How do you overcome them?

    Sundaresan: A tester plays the customer’s advocate and more often than not has to play the Devil’s advocate as well. The biggest challenge I believe, which is not just for me but for any tester, is bug advocacy. Logging the bugs with clear reproducing steps with enough evidence is the primary work of a test engineer. The buck doesn’t stop there, one also has to make sure the issue gets fixed so that it does not impact the customer and thereby the business. Developing a healthy developer-tester relationship is sacrosanct. It also pays to win the trust of the product manager/business analyst by asking them the right questions and helping them with data.

    Question 4What can people in the same role do to upskill themselves so that they can keep pace with the changing trends?

    Interpersonal Skills: While many might think up-skilling in automation or AI can help them keep a leg up to their career ladder, it is interpersonal skills that help anyone to rise high above others. Testers must have strong interpersonal skills without which even if one is the best, it will prove to be very hard to climb the career ladder. It pays to develop this skill by receiving adequate training or reading books that can help.

    Fundamental understanding: When I conduct an interview I rarely quiz about Selenium or Appium. I am more interested in whether a test engineer knows her/his computer science fundamentals well, can they successfully apply their learning about data structures or algorithms to solve a problem. Building a fundamental understanding helps to learn any language or a tool quickly. Good programming skills also help in identifying and solving problems.

    Test engineers must continuously keep themselves abreast of technology, advances in languages, operating systems, containers, libraries, and frameworks. It pays to also understand how other industries perform testing as a function.

    Question 5According to you, what are the important factors to consider for becoming successful in Software Testing?

    Sundaresan: It is a simple passion for quality, creativity, curiosity, a critical mindset to break things, continuous learning, impart knowledge, strong interpersonal skills are hallmarks of a successful Software Tester, and a can-do attitude certainly helps in advancing one’s career.

    Question 6What are the upcoming trends in Software Testing that our audience should know about?

    1. Data Science and testing relevant to data.
    2. In product organizations the border between testing and development is blurring.
    3. Non-functional testing is no longer a specialist function, every tester is expected to have Performance, Security, Scalability, and Monitoring as part of their skillset.

    Question 7What advice would you like to give to aspiring testing enthusiasts regarding how they can pave their way in the industry and be successful?

    Sundaresan: Challenge the status quo, never let yourself or your organization settle with ordinary outcomes. Never assume anything, question everything but ask relevant questions – It is an art, learn. Automate the mundane tasks – if you are repeating the same tasks day after day, you waste time and curtail your progress, automate or learn to automate. Learn and share – do not keep your learning to yourself, share your knowledge, sharing enables you to learn more.

    Question 8Any other thoughts you would like to share with us?

    Sundaresan: Testing is an important cog in the wheel that drives the world of software in the right direction eliminating risks. I would like to thank trending in testing to have given me the opportunity to share my experience.

    ‘Trending in Testing’ would like to thanks Mr. Krishnaswami for taking out the time to share his knowledge and experience with the Software Testing community. We appreciate his efforts a lot!

    Follow Mr. Sundaresan Krishnaswami on LinkedIn and Twitter.

    Stay Tuned for more interviews in the series.

    Check out the Story behind World Tester’s Day

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