Carol Brands Candidate Questions

Carol is a candidate in the board elections for 2017.

What do you think the AST board has historically done well, and what do you think needs to change?

As a 2-year member of the AST, I can’t claim to know AST’s history. I’ve been aware of the AST for 5 years, but I only recently became involved as a member. Prior to joining, it was hard to see the value provided by being a member. I was evaluating membership solely based on dollar value. The cost savings of CAST and BBST courses made sense money-wise if you were using those services, but the true value of joining the AST goes beyond the dollars spent. Having been an active member, I’d suggest that the main reason to join the AST is that it provides a community, a network of like-minded professionals, and together we can accomplish more than any of us can individually. AST provides a unique conference experience through CAST, where the Open Season session helped me as a speaker as much as it helped attendees. It creates videos and resources like the WHOSE wiki that help us discover and share information to do our jobs better. It provides grants that allow members to continue growing and spreading our community through local events and exciting speakers. There’s even a Slack channel where people can come together in real-time to learn and chat, share news and experiences. The community created by AST is amazing, so I’d say that has been done well. I think one thing that could use a change is our marketing and messaging strategy. I’d like to see AST find a better way to share and explain the values that I discovered through experience to those who have not joined yet. This is especially true when talking to testers who live outside of the US. I have met some non-US based AST members, but I know of many more non-US based testers who have not yet discovered or joined the AST. I believe an international conversation has begun with the new CastX series of conferences and regular grant/sponsor support to non-US based conferences, but I think more work can be done to share our values and grow our community both inside and outside of the US. I support changes that will accomplish that growth.

Is there an area where you feel AST is lacking in its role as a professional organization? If so, what would you suggest doing to begin to change that and increase the value to AST members and the testing community at large?

When I first discovered the AST, I had some expectations that came from having explored the websites of other professional organizations. My main goal in visiting the AST website was to learn more about testing. Specifically, I was looking for a section dedicated to learning more about testing as a profession and how to start my testing career, and a section that gathered resources where I could learn more. I left the website somewhat disappointed. As a member, I now know that the AST and its members have produced and contributed to many resources. Right now, those projects are partially collected under the Resources list that appears at the bottom of every page, with the WHOSE wiki appearing only under the Programs main menu. Videos have been given both a main menu item and a tile on the home page, which doesn’t help me see them as learning materials. A first step would be to discuss the current layout of the webpage, and learn more about why it was selected and how it was designed. From there, we may be able to reveal changes to the website that would give all the resources the community has created a shared space, making them easy to find. Additionally, I feel it’s important to continue generating and collecting learning materials. AST has done this by syndicating members on their blog and creating webinars. I think our efforts to create and share learning materials for testers demonstrates concrete value for AST members and the greater testing community.

Conflicts of Interest are not always obvious, but they can be insidious. Even if the Board Member believes they can safely navigate the conflict, the external perception of a conflict of interest could these conflicts worth identifying and discussing. Every Board Member will encounter potential Conflicts of Interest. What matters is how they are identified and handled.

While conducting AST business, if any potential conflicts of interest arise, you should be the first to notice the potential conflict. You might ask the rest of the board if you should be recused from the discussion and any potential votes. In other cases, you may need external perspective to see the potential conflict; the rest of the board may need to offer this help. The rest of the board would generally consider the nature and severity of the potential conflict, and decide whether recusal is appropriate. Here are some examples of potential conflicts of interest for an AST Board Member:

– You will need to vote on issues relating to the support, expansion, pricing, management of BBST. If you offer testing training as part of your professional life through any direct relationships or partnerships, you should consider how it might appear to have them make decisions about BBST.

– You will participate in planning CAST and other conferences. If you are involved in producing another testing conference, some potential conflicts could arise:Which conference gets your best ideas and energy?Could you participate in selecting a tutorial leader, speaker, or chair without the perception of a quid pro quo if you lead a tutorial, speak, or chair a conference someone else organizes? Another issue could arise from sponsorship for a conference, whether AST sponsors or AST is sponsored.

– AST provides Grant funds to non-profit meetups and certain conferences. Being a recipient and a giver at the same time could be an obvious conflict. It’s also worth considering some of the other angles mentioned in the previous example for conferences, specifically around quid pro quo relationships.

– Any employee-employer, supervisory, business, or mentoring relationships/partnerships a Board Member has can introduce a potential conflict. An example of this is if the person a Board Member has a relationship with is asking for grant money, applying to speak at CAST, or sponsoring CAST.

Please describe any potential conflicts of interest you could personally encounter as an AST Board Member.How would you recommend the rest of the board address these conflicts?

A) Please describe any potential conflicts of interest you could personally encounter as an AST Board Member. I have worked as a contractor for AST members, and I volunteer for an organization run by AST members. I have also worked as a contractor for other businesses in the greater testing community. I have made many close friendships through my participation in the testing community. B) How would you recommend the rest of the board address these conflicts? As the board addresses topics concerning or related to the relationships mentioned above, I will disclose my relationships. If the board determines it is appropriate, I will abstain from voting. I believe openly discussing our relationships and potential conflicts of interest as part of the decision making process will help us make good, fair choices.

How should AST promote diversity, of all kinds, within our own organization and within the wider testing and technology communities?

Having a diverse membership is as important to our communities’ health as having a diverse diet is to individual’s health. Making sure that testers of many backgrounds are represented and well-served in our membership and government ensures the continued growth and health of our community. My primary experience with promoting diversity involves working with SpeakEasy, a group that works to expand the community of conference speakers to make sure that new and historically underrepresented voices are heard. I believe that continuing relationships with groups that strengthen the signal coming from minority groups will help us make sure that all potential members feels welcome and engaged. I believe that AST should continue to explore and research ways that other organizations are successfully implementing diversity programs, so we can discover new ways to enhance the good work already being done.