The person who´s name is always mentioned.

This blog can be seen as a follow up on Good start for a junior tester I posted a few weeks ago.

Building a reputation as a tester can’t be that difficult, you are in control of that. It is all about self education. You must learn yourself how to work with applications, systems, processes within the organization you work for.

An example:
Some years ago I was working for Lucent Technologies, where we had a lab where we tested management systems for managing large transmission networks (SDH and Sonet for the insiders). We tested these management systems against real network elements. Next to my regular work as tester of these management systems, I learned myself to operate/configure these network elements and install software on these network elements. I became Subject Matter Expert (SME) of some network elements. At a certain moment, my supervisor called me. He was on site by the development team in New Jersey. “Simon, you have to come over, there are problems with a network element. They can´t get it working”. A few days later I was in New Jersey on site. I was directed to the network element with all the problems. All red LED were flashing. I started to work on it. Four hours later, the network element was operational and manageable by the network management systems.

This is one of the many examples thru out my career. Lately, I´m facing some side effects of this. At a certain moment during test, a problem popped up on an application. Within the blink of an eye, the department head shouted: “Where is Simon, he can solve it”. I was not there, I was on holidays. Luckily for me I have company email on my iPhone (as an external consultant?!?!). I was able to solve the problem not being on site. The problem here was that I thought I shared the knowledge with some people, but not good enough probably.

So working on your reputation as a tester is to look for opportunities to become the person who´s name is always mentioned. When you are the subject matter expert, share the knowledge with others. Don´t see this as a thread. While sharing this knowledge, you must be working on the next opportunity.

I know this, because I´m doing this already when I started my career as a tester. At present, I have the privilege that new opportunities are directly offered to me. They know I can do the job. Again the side effect is that when there are problems, your name is always mentioned. People know your name as a provider of a solution or the person who can find the root cause of a problem.

So working on your reputation is working on your subject matter expertise level and sharing this information. Then you will have all the good benefits as the person who´s name is always mentioned.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Phil Kirkham says:

    Glad that you put “sharing this information” – the downside to becoming an expert on a system is that you can end up stuck on it rather than be put onto new developments. Sharing the info reduces this risk – as does, as you mention, looking out for new opportunities

  2. Sigge says:

    Hi Simon, thank you for an excellent post. I realized that this relates to my last projects. My problem that I have had, is the sharing the knowledge. I am still trying to find out good ways to do this, but I have narrowed it down to that its really hard. Since I just finished my work on this long project, knowledge sharing was a constant and known activity on mypart the last months. =)

    Some points that make sharing hard:
    1. The people that you are sharing the knowledge with needs to be in a receiving state, or at least be aware (mentally) of the knowledge sharing from your part.

    2. People are not ready for the information on a technical level, ie don’t understand the tools used for finding the problems and root causes that you are really explaining.

    3. People think you are just a mr-know-it-all, that just tries to impress on people. Thus no knowledge is transferred because of that mental state.

    4. Your constant strive to share information is seen as disturbing communication. When I try too hard on sharing, it will be seen as noise, ie not considered for solutions.

    5. The knowledge sharing medium is not the right one. Email is very much of a noise, and the lsat project I was on email was a mess. Although this was pretty much the only way for me to share knowledge to more than one person at a time.

    Thank you!

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