Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Brightest Software Witch of Her Age

Folks who know me know my geek-interests are broad and varied. That is part of why I was intrigued when I saw a conference track talk at Agile Testing Days with a tie in to Harry Potter. So I grabbed my Hogwarts alumni lapel pin and Gryffindor house tie and made a point of packing said items for the conference.

If you read the Harry Potter books or watch the movies, you may remember toward the end more folks than Professor McGonagall, Ron and Harry realize just how bright Hermione is. She is referred to, to her face, as "the brightest witch of your age." Hermione is smart, intelligent, wise beyond her years, resourceful, dedicated, passionate and absolutely focused.

She represents all that is best in the world of wizardry and witchcraft. (Remarkable in that she is Muggle-born - neither of her parents had magical abilities.) Indeed, she represents the very future of that same world.

Last week, I believe I met the future of software at Agile Testing Days.

I met three bright, intelligent women in Potsdam. Each have their own strengths and characteristics. Still, each demonstrates the traits that make Hermione, well, Hermione.

Let me introduce you to them -

First, the person mentioned above with the link to Harry - Marianne Duijst.

Marianne is one of the plethora of talented testers from the Netherlands I have met over the years at Agile Testing Days. Of these three, Marianne is the likely candidate for "muggle-born" in that she came to software through a round-about route. (Don't get me wrong, I have known many talented software people who are muggle-born.) She did MA level studies in English Language and Culture with an emphasis in modern literature and theatre.

Now, THAT is some tech-heavy academic credentials (says the guy with enough university level credits in music and history studies to have majored in either...) Really. She taught for a time, then moved into software - development then testing. She also does some stuff as a Scrum master and coach.

My conversations with her reveled an ability to connect ideas and thoughts in unusual ways. Not just odd, "oh, liberal arts major" ways - where she's more butterfly than focused professional. Not at all. These were of the nature where an old guy, reasonably well read, was gobsmacked by how she was making connections from hugely diverse literary forms and works, and drawing connections to working with software.

The session she gave was outstanding. I believe she will go very far in shaping the world around her and making it better for all.  Find Marianne's website here:   - she can be found on twitter here:
Cassandra Leung I met online while doing a podcast. I was excited to meet her in person at the conference and found her to be as personable and intelligent as my first impressions of her made her out to be.

Cassandra is from Glasgow, Scotland, currently working in Germany. She moved into software testing after doing a bit of a stint as an IT recruiter. We had some fun and informative chats on twitter before the conference.

The conversations and discussions with Cassandra at Agile Testing Days were more of the same. Practical, applicable ideas in place of the hand-wavy crap so often encountered of the "well, it depends, doesn't it?" ilk.

One key point I observed, at the start of her talk, Cassandra said something to the effect that she was not "an expert" in test automation - then proceeded to explain ideas and concepts more clearly that many self-proclaimed experts I've heard. She carries herself with an air of confidence that is remarkable.

How remarkable? Cassandra made and placed piles of "tester bingo" game sheets - pages with the names and pictures of speakers and other conference attendees, to encourage people to meet and start conversations. How cool is that?

If I were to mention anything negative, she claims she does not like coffee. I'm a little baffled. I thought coffee fueled most test efforts.

Find Cassandra at her website - or on twitter at
I met Sabina Simons  the first time at a conference a few years ago. When I saw her at ATD, I had this strange sense of having met before, but could not place it. That turned out to be a minor detail.

Sabina impressed me with her solid, straight-on approach.Originally from Quebec, she lives in Kitchener, Ontario and works at D2L She has moved from Quality Analyst and tester, to development, to Test Strategist, and was recently promoted to Development Manager.

Our conversations about software, problems with software, problems with roles and, frankly, life, were full of profound consideration - something I often associate with people who have "looked into the abyss" and considered their own purpose steadily.

Her presentation was solid - here's what we did, these things worked and these were the mistakes and unexpected consequences we encountered,,, Here's how it was handled. As with other people who are leaders, she shouldered the burden of the errors to allow the team to move on to do better work.

I've met very few new managers/team-leads with an attitude like that. I was impressed.

I'm not even jealous that she did one of the last PSLs that Jerry Weinberg hosted. That many of her lessons contain "Weinberg-isms" is no surprise. What is notable is how she has taken them on - internalized them - and not simply spouting them unthinkingly as so many do.

Find Sabina on twitter here:
These three women each embody different aspects of the strengths and capabilities of Hermione Granger.

When I first got into software, I had visions of changing the world. I suspect these three just might do it.

The brightest witch of her age, indeed.

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