What’s it like to be a bug hunter at Comtrade Digital Services?

12 Oct 2017

Aleksandar Ristić, test consultant, Comtrade Digital Services. Image: Comtrade

This week on Leaders’ Insights, Aleksandar Ristić tells us about his career chasing bugs and breaking stuff, all in the name of quality control.

Aleksandar Ristić is a test consultant at Comtrade Digital Services.

With a self-confessed passion for hunting bugs, Ristić has years of experience as a test engineer and has been with Comtrade Digital Services since 2013.

Ristić recently took part in the Quest for Quality Conference that was held last week in Dublin, where he spoke about the challenges of testing in an agile framework.

‘Being a test engineer means you can break stuff while getting paid to do it – what more could you ask for in life?’

Describe your role and what you do.

I work as a test consultant with Comtrade Digital Services. I support existing projects, working with QA engineers and helping them to improve processes, share their knowledge and learn. I also work on new accounts and help with the ramping up of expert teams that will help our customers innovate faster and achieve their digital transformation goals. A big part of my role is the evangelism of testing to development, testing and business people.

How do you prioritise and organise your working life?

That is one continuous challenge. It really depends on the priorities. Sometimes, it’s all about work and focusing on a new project, helping co-workers and setting up the framework – just plain old hard work. And sometimes, I have the luxury of logging off, travelling, recharging and thinking about new ideas. I believe in a ‘work hard, play hard’ approach.

What are the biggest challenges facing your business and how are you tackling them?

Improving processes and supporting effective communication between dispersed teams that are in different cities, countries and even continents is a constant challenge. New technologies, such as IoT and AI, are disrupting the way we work and consume information. We need to ensure we know how to test them. I believe that sharing knowledge is the key to success, and we are actively involved in many different meet-ups and conferences, internal and external. Constant education and working as a team are the answers that will overcome any challenge coming our way.

What are the key industry opportunities you’re capitalising on?

Comtrade Digital Services is a thought leader in the testing area and has a flexible workforce that can be deployed to any project, anywhere, in just a couple of weeks. We believe that nearshore outsourcing is currently the best solution to Ireland’s resource challenge, and our hubs in Europe are close and efficient in supporting business. Excellent education and a strong community are our strengths that are fuelling our customers’ success.

What set you on the road to where you are in the technology industry?

Being a test engineer means you can break stuff while getting paid to do it – what more could you ask for in life? I find great satisfaction in knowing that somewhere down the line, the customer will get a better product because of my work.

What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?

It is not really a mistake, but at the beginning of my career I lacked understanding of deploying software for production. At the very end of one particular project I was working on, just before its release, I found a bug. I was devastated that I didn’t find it earlier; I thought I had messed up big time. I thought that software that was deployed into the production was completely bug-free! It turned out that it wasn’t such a big problem after all and it ended up in the release notes. I have since learned that a bug is not the end of the world; it’s not about the bugs you have found, but the bugs you have missed and they are the ones that keep you testing further.

How do you get the best out of your team?

There are many challenges, but the most important thing is that we are all moving in the right direction. It is important to agree on the common goals first: things that are not flexible and that need to be done. How to get there and what else can be achieved is where the individual approach kicks in and where people can shine. We are very keen on using regular meetings at which we analyse the work so far, talk about what went right and also about what can be improved in the next step.

 STEM sectors receive a lot of criticism for a lack of diversity. What are your thoughts on this and what’s needed to effect change?

There is a very good quote by Peter Drucker: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”, which I think we can all learn from. Constant improvement of the process instead of simple task execution is what everyone needs to strive towards.

Who is your business hero and why?

My inspiration comes from my team; hearing new approaches to tackle a common problem, learning about an interesting bug that I was unaware of, or watching team members speak at conferences is what makes me enjoy my work and feel proud to be a part of that team.

What books have you read that you would recommend?

I wouldn’t recommend going through life without reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings. Regarding technical literature, I prefer going to meet-ups and conferences in order to keep up with the latest trends. I had the pleasure of listening to James Whittaker from Microsoft and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk live and I would recommend going to see both of them.

What are the essential tools and resources that get you through the working week?

My action-items list (I prefer it to be on a simple piece of paper, but digital is also fine) is something I can’t function without. Everything else is replaceable.

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