Conference archive

STARWEST 2016 - Personal Improvement

Monday, October 3


Critical Thinking for Software Testers

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Monday, October 3, 2016 - 8:30am to 4:30pm

Critical thinking is the kind of thinking that specifically looks for problems and mistakes. Regular people don't do a lot of it. However, if you want to be a great tester, you need to be a great critical thinker. Critically thinking testers save projects from dangerous assumptions and ultimately from disasters. The good news is that critical thinking is not just innate intelligence or a talent—it's a learnable and improvable skill you can master. Michael Bolton shares the specific techniques and heuristics of critical thinking and presents realistic testing...

Hitachi Consulting

Get Your Message Across: Communications Skills for Testers

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Monday, October 3, 2016 - 8:30am to 12:00pm

Communication is at the heart of our profession. If we can’t convey our concerns in ways that connect with key members of the project team, our contribution is likely to be ignored—no matter how advanced our testing capabilities are. Because we act in an advisory capacity rather than being in command, our power to exert influence is almost entirely based on our communication skills. Join Thomas McCoy as he draws on techniques from psychology and marketing to help you get your message across. With people suffering information overload and deluged with emails, it is...

Isabel Evans
Independent Consultant

Enhance Your Testing Workbox with New Approaches, Methods, and Ideas

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Monday, October 3, 2016 - 8:30am to 12:00pm

What do you do when you are not testing? Whatever it is, you probably have a place where you work on your interests, some tools and equipment, and some things you always have with you. Perhaps you have a room or shed or tool rack with your favorite and most used equipment readily at hand in a workbox. Wouldn’t it be great to have your own workbox for testing? Well, Isabel Evans says you already do! Everyone’s “mental tool set” is different, but we all need versatile, strong, and multipurpose approaches to our work. In thirty years of software testing, Isabel has...

Hitachi Consulting

Applying Emotional Intelligence in Your Testing

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Monday, October 3, 2016 - 1:00pm to 4:30pm

As test managers and test professionals, we're constantly dealing with fragile egos, highly-charged situations, and pressured people playing a high-stakes game under conditions of massive uncertainty. We're often the bearers of bad news and are sometimes perceived as critics, activating people's primal fear of being judged. The concept of emotional intelligence (EI), popularized by Harvard psychologist and science writer Daniel Goleman, has much to offer test managers and testers. Key EI skills include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and...

Tuesday, October 4

Isabel Evans
Independent Consultant

Influence Diagrams: A New Way to Understand Testing

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Tuesday, October 4, 2016 - 8:30am to 12:00pm

Influence diagrams provide a simple-to-create and easy-to-understand approach to address the complexities of real-life problems. As testers we may want to find more bugs, but this may have an unintended consequence for developers. Developers now have more defects to debug, which affects their capacity to deliver new functionality. Isabel Evans has found that influence diagrams provide a means of understanding and managing the complexities of key interactions among testers, developers, and business stakeholders. In the past few years, Isabel has used influence...

Wednesday, October 5

Selena Delesie
Delesie Solutions

Lessons Learned in Leadership: Give Your Team the Edge

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016 - 8:30am to 9:45am

Selena Delesie recognizes that highly successful teams embrace several specific principles. When every person embodies these principles, teams have people who are passionate about the work they do and who show up every day eager and ready to deliver their best. A self-admitted geek, Selena was thrilled to hear Sir Richard Branson speak live at an event last year—in-person and in the same room! She learned that his success is built on the same principles she coaches: listening deeply, believing people truly matter, having an addiction to learning, serving others,...

Tariq King
Ultimate Software

The Path to Test Leadership: A Road Less Traveled

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016 - 11:30am to 12:30pm

Are you interested in growing into a test leadership position? Or do you shy away from leadership because you think you’ll lose your technical, hands-on testing skills? Regardless of your experience level, technical programming knowledge, and company organizational structure, following a test leadership path could be the difference between surviving or thriving as a testing professional. Join Tariq King as he debunks myths about test leadership, and provides a clear explanation of the different software testing leadership roles and positions. If you have ever...

MATRIX Resources

The Art of People Facilitation: Servant Leadership and Team Dynamics

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016 - 1:45pm to 2:45pm

Some of the greatest products come from great teams with exceptional servant leaders. These leaders use influence instead of authority and know when to just get out of the way. Unfortunately, some teams are asked to be self-empowered, change on the fly, think for themselves—and then are told exactly how they have to do all of these things or else. Poor leadership can break a great team, ruin great product, and damage a great organization. In this highly interactive session, Robert Woods explores team dynamics, highlights servant leadership skills, and explains...

France Van Wirkus
Francie Van Wirkus

Become a Mindful Tester: Eliminate the Clutter, Weather Any Storm

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016 - 1:45pm to 2:45pm

Losing your focus because change is hitting you from all sides? Meetings and technology disrupting much of your day? End the day not knowing what you’ve accomplished? It’s for you to learn the power of mindfulness techniques. Francie Van Wirkus guides your discovery of how mindfulness provides calm and clarity in the face of great change, which exponentially enhances your problem solving and creativity. Once you regularly practice mindfulness, you are free to grow your champion heart. Like an athlete who doesn't quit, successful testers must be resilient and...


Virtually Speaking: Leading Distributed Test Teams

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm

As a newly promoted quality assurance manager, Willie Smith assumed responsibility for a large application that allows UPS customers to ship packages worldwide. His team was distributed worldwide and had varying levels of automation experience, application knowledge, and QA processes in place. With the next deployment date only a few months away, Willie found that the testing side of the project was in trouble. To align the test team with project and company goals, he had to develop virtual training plans and implement new practices to deal with the host of...

Lee Copeland
TechWell Corp.

Lightning Strikes the Keynotes

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016 - 4:15pm to 5:15pm

Throughout the years, Lightning Talks have been a popular part of the STAR conferences. If you’re not familiar with the concept, Lightning Talks consists of a series of five-minute talks by different speakers within one presentation period. Lightning Talks are the opportunity for speakers to deliver their single biggest bang-for-the-buck idea in a rapid-fire presentation. And now, lightning has struck the STAR keynotes. Some of the best-known experts in testing will step up to the podium and give you their best shot of lightning. Get multiple keynote...

Thursday, October 6


T-Shaped People: Time to Get in Shape for Your Testing Future

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Thursday, October 6, 2016 - 9:45am to 10:45am

Today, agile testers are being asked to do a lot more than just testing. The notion of “T-shaped people,” who combine technical skills with collaborative capabilities, was created by Tim Brown in the 1990s to describe the new breed of worker. Mary Thorn believes that anyone—including testers—can contribute more to the business than their standard role traditionally dictates. The tester’s critical view and skeptical thinking can be used earlier in the development process. This role can stretch to include other aspects that intrigue them and keep them interested....

Independent Test Consultant

The Role of Testers as Requirements Dealers

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Thursday, October 6, 2016 - 11:15am to 12:15pm

Those of us in the business analyst role are encouraged to communicate with clients, while other roles in an organization may not have the same opportunity. However, talking to clients must not be limited to business analysts. Jyothi Rangaiah believes that testers need to talk to the clients, too, because by the time the product information trickles down from a business analyst to a programmer to a tester, valuable information has been lost. Testers are often blamed for defects in the product, but this can be avoided by fostering effective communication between...

Isabel Evans
Independent Consultant

Story Time for Testers

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Thursday, October 6, 2016 - 1:30pm to 2:30pm

Stories help us learn. They can be fun or scary, exciting or relaxing. People worldwide tell and listen to stories. We access them through books, film, TV, and computers. But direct, face-to-face storytelling is still a powerful experience. When Isabel Evans was young, there was a program on the radio called Listen with Mother. For fifteen minutes, mothers and children across the land would sit and listen to a story. Join Isabel and become your younger child, bring your testing parent, and listen to her stories. In fifteen minute sections, Isabel recounts stories...


The Tester’s Role: Balancing Technical Acumen and User Advocacy

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Thursday, October 6, 2016 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm

Ten years ago, many of us started our careers in testing, generally moving from a different internal role. It was common for people who were product users to be hired to jump start their technical career. Now, we see the growth of tester positions that require coding experience or a computer science degree. Melissa Tondi discusses the changing landscape of the role of testers, the challenges when hiring developers with no previous testing experience, and a way to shift the pendulum back to balance technical acumen with a user advocacy role. Melissa leads a...


Exploratory Testing and Automated Testing: Create a Healthy Relationship

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Thursday, October 6, 2016 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm

With the pressure of decreased time-to-market and the demand for error-free web applications, some people erroneously believe that test automation can solve all our defect woes. Dawn Jardine believes that neither test automation alone nor exploratory testing alone can solve quality issues. So, what is the best approach? Where do we invest our resources, time, and money so clients are happy with our product? How can automation and exploratory testing work together to obtain maximum test coverage? Join Dawn as she shares her experience of moving from a solely...

Jared Richardson
Agile Artisans

Take Charge of Your Testing Career: Bring Your Skills to the Next Level

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Thursday, October 6, 2016 - 4:15pm to 5:15pm

Far too often in our careers we trust our fate to employers. We attend training and acquire skills needed for our jobs today. Unfortunately, as far too many have learned, careers can be stalled when you don't have the right skill sets. Much of testing’s future requires automation ability beyond the traditional knowledge and experience of many testers. Jared Richardson examines key skills that you need to acquire to future-proof your career and ensure you are ready for the job you want to have. Jared focuses on deliberate learning and intentional experimentation...

Friday, October 7

Dawn Haynes
PerfTestPlus, Inc.

The Power of Collective Experience

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Friday, October 7, 2016 - 10:45am to 12:30pm

Bring your biggest challenges to this session and tap the wisdom of others. In this immersive session, you will tackle some of the most widely mentioned challenges brought to light from the group. Whether it’s a software testing conundrum, a project setback, a management blocker, a group or team dysfunction or an interpersonal hurdle, all of these can slow our progress and reduce our effectiveness.  And when we hunt for options, we all have blind spots and biases that prevent us from thinking out of the box and finding new and different solutions. Typically the...

Tania Katan

The United State of Women Summit: From Dreaming to Doing!

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Friday, October 7, 2016 - 1:15pm to 2:00pm

Axosoft evangelist, Tania Katan reports back after being invited to the White House’s United State of Women Summit as a “Changemaker”. She will share stories from leaders, activists and, ahem, the First Lady of the United States on how women are taking on challenges in technology, entrepreneurship and beyond. You will leave this talk with tools for challenging the status quo and becoming a Changemaker! In the spirit of Axosoft’s collaborative tools (GitKraken)—and work culture—this lively talk (and micro-workshop) will engage attendees in working collaboratively...

Alison Wade
TechWell Corp.

Panel–Career Superpowers

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Friday, October 7, 2016 - 2:00pm to 2:45pm

Let’s discuss and define the most important career superpowers for women. Hear what industry professionals, leaders, and idea disruptors think the important career superpowers are for women in 2016 and going forward.

Panel: Tania Katan, the Curator of Code at AxoSoft and Melissa Benua, Senior Backend Software Engineer at PlayFab, Inc.



Building your Personal Brand for Success

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Friday, October 7, 2016 - 3:00pm to 3:45pm
Building the right personal brand is one of the critical success factors in today’s workplace. Organizations develop a brand and image, but not many individuals think about their personal brand and how it can affect their career. As we interact with people, we want to influence them to support our efforts—approving projects, budgets, and funding; supporting our next career move; or recommending us for that promotion or raise we want.  As a professional, it is critical to understand how you are being perceived by your...