Life as a Lab Manager
Q: What did you study (and where), and what attracted you to work at Calnex?
I studied Electronics Engineering at the University of Dundee. I liked the aspect of working for a smaller company. I had worked a summer at a bigger company and didn’t really like the heavily corporate atmosphere. The fact that there were graduate positions available was ideal also, as I was a little daunted with jumping straight into the industry fresh out of university!
Q: How long have you worked at Calnex and how has your career developed?
I have worked at Calnex for two and a half years, in that time, I have worked on three product lines, helping to improve the quality of the product. I am now the main tester on one of the leading products for the company, working together with a very friendly and helpful product team. I have had opportunities to go on courses for my career development and to several telecommunication events.
Q: How / Why did you get into testing?
I liked the idea of being a tester as they are the last person to ensure that the company are providing a high quality product with confidence. Without testers, we would have defective software, which could impact all walks of life.
I saw the Graduate Test Engineer with Calnex and knew it was an opportunity to get into the industry with extra support provided by the company.
Q: What is it that motivates you in the morning and gets you energized about your role?
I like being able to contribute to a team and produce a product that we have confidence in. Something that gives Calnex a good reputation. The team are great to work with, and when there are any issues, we help each other out. Being able to rely on someone else to help you figure something out is really nice, and makes you feel a part of something.
Q: Talk us through a typical day for you at Calnex?
A typical day in test is hard to pin down as we tend to go through cycles. We have the development cycle, where I plan and develop automated and manual tests for the release currently being developed and then we have the test cycle, where I have a Release Candidate that I am testing against the test plan. During a test cycle, I will usually put the unit on for testing overnight, so I usually start the day going through the test results from the night before. This can lead into a morning of investigation with the project team, if there has been any issues in the test run overnight. I will then continue to progress the test plan towards completion.
Q: What tools or skills do you use in your typical work day?
Day to day, I use Spirent iTest to develop the automated tests for my product line. It primarily uses TCL but we also use Python scripts to improve our testing coverage. We use an SVN repository to store all of our automated tests, so may need to use it when we are committing changes or needing to merge in new test code. I use Microsoft Excel for the Test Plans created for the projects, and Word for any Test Summaries that are required at the end of testing. I regularly use lab equipment, such as Oscillators, Frequency Generators and Ceasium references during the testing of the products.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?
I like that there can be new challenges every day, figuring out how test should be developed, and trying to include as many corner cases as possible.
Q: Most challenging aspects of your job?
The most challenging aspect of the job is when there is a defect, but it is difficult to reproduce. Sometimes you need to just hope it reappears, or you try everything you can think of to get the same defect to happen again. In some cases, it is a very specific order of processes that has caused a product to show the defect and you can catch it, other times it never appears again! If there are a lot of defects in the product during the test cycle, it can take a lot of time away from the testing schedule, so trying to catch up with the test plan can be difficult.
Q: What skills do you need to succeed in the job?
A tester needs to be able to formulate a plan, from the Test Plan to any development work required for the next release. You should be able to use requirements provided by the Project Manager to develop automated and manual tests for the project. You need to have good communication skills, so that you can correctly convey the defect or any issues arising efficiently. Being able to provide information for the project team is a must, as you will be keeping the project team up to date with how the testing is progressing, so being able to gather that altogether is very important.
Q: What has been your biggest success at Calnex?
I feel like my biggest success has been being able to integrate into the project team and produce a quality product. We have been working together to develop new features and to investigate any issues that arise.
Q: What piece of advice would you give to anyone who wants to work in testing?
My piece of advice would be to be mindful of how you approach developers if you have found a problem with the software. Good communication is vital, and if you find a problem with the software, remember that this is something that they have been working on and the communication of the defect should be done in a constructive way. This makes it easier to get the issue of the defect across, and the developer won’t become defensive as you are criticizing their work!
Q: What do you do for downtime?
I’m part of my local roller derby team Dundee Roller Derby, where we play a full contact sport based on quad roller skates. I also like to dabble in baking all kinds of cakes and biscuits!