Hey everyone – This is the editorial I wrote for the latest edition of Women Testers. I took it as a chance to spotlight some influential women I’ve had the pleasure to either work with or learn from. The full edition can be found here. Thanks! – KK
Examples matter. In my experience, behavior modeling is one, if not THE most powerful influences on how we treat people and develop professionally either individually or as an organization. As someone who has led groups of all shapes and sizes and has reported into the highest levels of enterprise tech, I can assure you people are watching. Watching and emulating. That’s why examples matter – but if they are to have a positive impact they have to be seen.
Over the last twenty years I have had the opportunity to work with countless amazing, strong, intelligent women. Through this editorial, I wanted to take the opportunity to shine a light on some people who have had, and continue to have, the biggest impact on me professionally and inspire me personally. They became my examples to emulate by mentoring me, kicking my ass, and just being generally awesome at what they do. As well, as a father of two young boys, it is extremely important for them, so they can see things as they are and how they should be.
So here are some of my heroes – the smart, fierce, funny, and influential women who inspire me to be my best. Enjoy!
There is a powerful vulnerability in the way Karen Johnson quietly goes about unpacking problems while getting to the heart of issues. The strength demonstrated by her accessibility is what puts you at ease and lets you open up. I always enjoy speaking with her or trying (and usually failing) to learn by mimicking her calm, reasoned approach to deal with problems through storytelling.
If you need any further evidence of this, aside from all the great advice for testers in her presentation, check out the Q&A at CAST 2015 – a masterclass on answering questions with integrity and just generally how to be a decent person.
When I was running the Barclays Global Test Center, I started a meme to inspire our team to be their best. If I saw someone working tirelessly on their craft, challenging the status quo, or being a leader, I would call them a “badass software tester”. Anne-Marie Charrett was the model for that name. Anne-Marie is a testers tester. A true practitioner in our craft, I admire her practical approach to test leadership and no nonsense style.
Never afraid to call it like she sees it, you can count on her to be a fearless voice of reason in our business. As well, she is an awesome force for change in testing through organizing meet ups, coaching sessions, and conferences all over the world.
I first got to know Lorinda Brandon about five years ago when we met through our shared passion for supporting diversity in technology. Her efforts were invaluable in organizing support for the Per Scholas STEP classes I was starting in the Bronx, NY. Her support for the program energized funding, marketing, and organizing from the grassroots technology community as well from the commercial sector.
Lorinda has spent her career advocating for diversity and inclusion in tech in some of the toughest industry sectors. On top of all that, she speaks all around the world about her wicked smart day job (tip o’ the hat to MA) solving some of the toughest problems in CapitalOne’s DevExchange! How you like them apples?
Angie Kamath is one of those rare people I’ve met who is actually an expert. The depth and breadth of her knowledge and experience is not common and frankly, intimidates the hell out of me. If Cornell, Harvard, Wall Street, and the Bloomberg Administration weren’t enough, in her current role heading up Social Ventures at Per Scholas, she creates US-wide revenue generating ideas that reinvest money back into their operations.
All that visionary leadership in workforce development is underpinned by a New York toughness and pragmatism backed up by an ironic sense of humor that’s served her well cracking heads for almost two decades.
One of the defining moments of my career was being brought into Barclays to run their Global Test Center. I had a big agenda and a brash style from working my way through the ranks in banking tech. My boss Julie Evans brought me in to run the testing operation but in the end, taught me more about getting things done in enterprise tech than I can write here. I cannot imagine all the BS Julie has had to endure working an entire career in investment banking technology.
But I’ve lived enough of it with her first hand, and it’s suffice to say, I don’t know many people who could not only deal with it like she has, but kick its ass. Just like she did mine. Having successfully worked as Director, Managing Director, CTO, and now as CIO at Aviva, she is a perfect example of excellence and persistence.