Dun & Bradstreet’s Srirekha Krishnan reflects on her career journey to date, and talks about the need for early education in STEM.
Having originally held a passion for biotechnology, Srirekha Krishnan became intrigued by computer applications at university, ultimately leading her along a career path of test engineering and quality assurance (QA).
Now, she works as a QA lead with Dun & Bradstreet, where she manages a delivery team of software engineers. Here, Krishnan discusses both the enjoyable and challenging aspects of her job and why she decided to move from India to Ireland
‘Being a tester, I visualise myself as a client to better understand how they would approach and use a product in real time’
– SRIREKHA KRISHNAN
What is your job title and what does your role involve?
I am a QA lead at Dun & Bradstreet, supporting API packets and solutions for upcoming data products. As the name indicates, I lead a delivery team of software engineers who develop and certify deliverables by focusing on testing concepts and processes. I work closely with clients and external teams to understand the experience and any issues with deliverables to ensure the changes reflect clients’ needs.
It is an interesting job where I am accountable for quality and automation, coordinating projects across teams, and collaborating with product owners to understand and test out new product requirements. I also work closely with our engineering teams to understand the client experience and any issues that arise. Previously, I was a test engineer.
What drew you to a career in QA?
It was a coincidence! My passion was in biotechnology, but I ended up studying computer applications at university and I developed an interest in certifying products as part of testing methodologies.
Being a tester, I visualise myself as a client to better understand how they would approach and use a product in real time. Everything I do daily requires me to think through the lens of our clients’ needs and, as a result, it has given me even more rigour to test every part of a solution to ensure we are providing a quality product.
How did you find moving from India to Ireland?
My first trip outside India was to Ireland and it completely changed my life. Working abroad was a dream as I always fantasised about being immersed in the European culture because it is rich in history and filled with many careers opportunities.
Ireland also has a flair for identifying and supporting emerging industries and innovative technologies. This environment allowed me to surround myself with colleagues from various backgrounds, giving me a great opportunity to gain experience in my field.
Bringing my family here and getting them accustomed to the new surroundings and culture was the hard part, but it was worth the journey. As much as I love India, I am enjoying my life in Ireland!
Which of your personality traits makes you best suited to your job and this sector?
My soft skills. As much as the technology sector requires niche skills and market knowledge, I strongly believe building relationships and effectively communicating with colleagues and clients are the keys to success.
These valuable skills come in handy in any work environment, as they’ve allowed me to build a strong internal network and collaborate across teams and projects in order to deliver quality data solutions that our clients have come to expect from our company.
Is there something in your personal life that helps you or has helped you in your job?
Before I moved to Dublin, I established a good rapport with many Dun & Bradstreet team members during my short visits to Ireland. That helped to reduce my learning curve during the transition phase.
Has mentorship or coaching been important in your career?
Being in the technology sector requires a constant thirst to learn and adapt to different processes. Equally important is sharing knowledge, choosing a mentor and coaching junior team members. I have had mentors in my career who have helped me secure vital roles and gain better exposure. The lessons and insights that these mentors shared were invaluable to my career growth.
Dun & Bradstreet has also helped me leverage my experience and skills to ‘pay it forward’ to up-and-coming leaders by participating in mentorship opportunities such as Junior Achievement and Teen-Turn, a programme that provides teen girls with the opportunity to gain hands-on technology experience through two-week work placements during the summer.
What keeps you excited about your role and this STEM sector as a whole?
What keeps me excited about my career is the ever-changing technology sector and the wide scope of areas to choose from within the quality space.
For instance, being a tester doesn’t necessarily mean you remain one. This field has a wealth of opportunities, allowing people to explore and shift career paths and excel in them. All you need to have is interest and a can-do attitude.
What have been the main challenges in your career and how have you overcome them?
In the technology field, you do not need to be coding or finding bugs all the time, but you must be able to learn and understand the core concepts of engineering. Being a tester throughout my career, I faced challenges understanding how a project was built because I did not have a development background.
However, I am always keen to learn new things, so I have been able to turn my challenges into opportunities, allowing me to learn new technologies such as Amazon Web Services coding or Microsoft Azure. Once I gained a working knowledge of these tools, I found it easier to engage with external teams daily and to be part of larger project discussions.
If you had the power to change anything within the STEM sector, what would that be?
STEM must be taught during the early stages of a child’s life. As much as STEM is being promoted in education, it needs to be integrated into the educational curriculum for younger students, starting at the primary level.
There are new technologies created every day and the pace and pervasiveness of these new innovations makes STEM education ever more important in our society. This is an exciting time to be in a STEM career and I hope that we promote this sector and career path on a much wider scale, and earlier on in a child’s development cycle.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about a career in your area?
It is fun and you get to learn something new every day. Moreover, as you start to develop your skills as a tester, your self-confidence improves once you start to learn tricks and best practices for managing everyday problems and easily solving them.
Self-confidence is not just something you build at the office, but it is a trait that comes in handy in everyday life and allows you to take chances as you build your own career.