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Looking out of the window in one of oh-so-many New York City hotel’s room, I smiled to the breathtaking Manhattan’s skyline and myself while a line from a song played in my head: “If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere“. I did make it there. I was invited to speak in the city where dreams are made in. There were no shortcuts in this journey, just hard work, and a continuous step by step events that led me there.
Test Leadership Congress is a cozy conference organised by Test Masters Academy. Why cozy? Because the number of attendees is just perfect for getting to know almost everyone, network, and feel comfortable in sharing your knowledge. No big overwhelming auditoriums where the more people there are – the lonelier you may feel.
This year Test Leadership Congress 2019 was right by the buzzing Times Square in NYC in the AMA Conference Center. The building was impressive with the view of flashy billboards (I was just wow, this is where I’m going to speak! My first talk in Europe was in a stadium for Testing Cup 2017, and my first talk outside of Europe is in a skyscraper). Due to its cozy nature – the conference did not take that much of space in the conference center, just a few rooms, and, we definitely did not glimpse through the window as often because of interesting content, and, most importantly, active networking.
First day was a workshop day: you could attend two workshops. I was thrilled as I really enjoy workshops, that’s my kind of a preferred learning experience. The content was really high standard so I had some trouble choosing which sessions I should attend. Same happened with the second day where there were 3 parallel tracks of talks! While the third day everyone got together to one bigger room for keynote-like talks.
To mention just a few (of so many brilliant sessions), here are some of my favorites:
Workshop “Experience Serious Games for Facilitating Quality and Testing” by Eddy Bruin & Jordann Gross was super fun, yet eye-opening (https://www.theseriousgamers.com). There are games that could help us understand the benefits of agile, testing, pair programming & other concepts. In this way, we are not just preaching some kind of practices, but could help the team learn by example. A simple card game could make people realize the benefits of teamwork. What I very much loved was that the workshop not only gave us rather serious learnings by doing fun activities, but also helped us to understand the facilitation part, and how we could ourselves facilitate the games in our teams. What to even mention about their playful way of business (or goal) cards – they use Dixit game’s cards. Also, in general, Eddy & Jordann are just super kind, beautiful souls – if you ever bump into them, talk to them (or join their game sessions), they are very patient & love to share their passion for games.
Another workshop “Quality Outcomes: Driving Change” by Anders Dinsen & Ole S Rasmussen was also really powerful. We spoke about leadership, change & how to drive it by using real-world scenarios from our work, and acting them out using forum theatre. It was in particular interesting to wear different shoes in discussions, try to win arguments, and, most importantly, we could connect so much with fellow attendees. People from all over the world were sharing very similar challenges when it comes to transformation, testing, and leadership.
Tanya Kravtsov in her two parts session “The Game of Continuous Delivery” first shared Audible’s journey towards Continuous Delivery which was so relatable! While in the second part we got to experience playing the Continuous Delivery board game.
Also, I really enjoyed Iryna Suprun’s talk “The Danger of an Isolated QA“. It was so touching, and familiar. It is important to talk about isolation and how we could actually avoid that.
Closing Keynote “More Than That!” was just a perfect ending talk. Damian Synadinos is a wonderful speaker and manages to engage every single person in the audience. He spoke about labels we put on others and ourselves, anxiety & learning to be okay with who we are.
And, what about my own talk? I told my personal journey on career changes, burnout, losing my power in authenticity & regaining it in “Finding Power in Authenticity“. It was the most difficult talk to deliver for me so far. It’s the most personal talk where I open up quite a bit. I shared my story in order to inspire, encourage, and support others: just in case they felt the same. After the talk, a lot of people admitted that they could relate to the talk a lot, and, that it was helpful for them to hear me speak. It makes me extremely happy to learn that. Also, one attendee who came from Europe for the conference gave me this note after my talk:
I am so grateful!
Overall, Test Leadership Congress 2019 was full of wonderful content, yet unpretentious, real & genuine. The main organiser & founder of Test Masters Academy Anna Royzman, in general, is a very kind, yet straight-forward, sincere person who is not about making a show of a conference, but allowing participants learn & shape it themselves. There were spaces for discussions, or even interactive games in groups to decide test strategy of IoT integration products while getting to try them out hands-on. The conference chair Anders Dinsen was also very supportive in this conference: aiding speakers, helping with facilitation & making sure the event goes smoothly. This really helps attendees to network in a cozy conference environment. And, the attendees themselves are just a wonderful set of people. I’m so glad to have been a part of this conference, and, have met such inspiring people!
P. S. New York, I think I do like you quite a bit. First time I was not sure, but this time you did make me consider writing odes for your inspiring vibes, and, even creating a video from my trip fragments.