Chris Kenst Candidate Questions

These questions are from AST members to all candidates for the  2020 AST Board elections.

Q1. How do you intend to promote diversity within the AST? How could AST promote diversity, of all kinds, within our own organization and within the wider testing and technology communities?

Although it sounds corny, we need to create the communities we want to see. If we want a more diverse and inclusive community, whether that be within the AST or among the wider technology community it means spending the time to find the people and build those relationships.  It’s not about waiting for people to join. It means proactively reaching out to people who are doing things we like and highlighting their work for all of the community to see. If, in the rare instance, they aren’t part of the community it means asking them to be part of it and to help support them.

This is what I’m doing. Watching, listening and highlighting the good work of others so I can reach out to build those relationships. 

 Q2. Please share your vision for the future of the AST’s BBST program.

When I ran for the board in 2018 I said we needed to do 3 major things for AST-BBST: 

  1. Make updates and customizations to the materials to bring them inline with what I saw as current. This includes upgrading our teaching platform to make it easier to teach.
  2. Tap more incoming students to become instructors and provide them with the materials and training to have an impact.  
  3. Begin to develop additional classes outside of the BBST namespace.

I’m happy to report we are done with the updates and customizations to our slides and many of the supporting materials. We replaced OpenOffice with LibreOffice in Bug Advocacy. Along the way we’ve made dozens of small course improvements across all 3 courses. A few months ago we began to upgrade our teaching platform to bring it into a more modern age.

Along the way we overhauled our compensation process for instructors and have been recruiting more students to become instructors. 

The Future

The next big changes for our existing classes will revolve around dropping the AST-BBST name. BBST is a registered trademark of Altom and the use of AST-BBST doesn’t provide enough of a differentiation of that trademark. In order to continue our updates and still be able to market our classes we need to drop the BBST trademark. 

Second and perhaps most challenging is the process of updating, augmenting and in some instances outright replacing our lecture videos. In addition to wanting to use the new slides, we also want to be able to expose those lectures to more formats of classes including potential self-training options. This just isn’t possible given their current format. 

Our classes have a wealth of knowledge about testing but they aren’t designed to be consumed in the most useful ways. We are looking into additional ways to share that knowledge but in more consumable formats and for wider audiences. 

There are of course many other things we want to do. We still have yet to find a way to give instructors better supporting tools but this seems really solvable. We are also in the very very early stages of planning out at least one additional class. 

Our training classes generally have lots of volunteers but I think it’s time to start asking people to help out more, both in the creation of new content, in helping us run things. I think it’s time to build out this community in a more direct way. 

 Q3. What do you think the AST board has historically done well, and what do you think needs to change?

Historically the board has done well maintaining the AST, preserving its traditions and consistently running our education and CAST programs. There’s even been some small growth and improvement over the last few years such as with tester-focused webinars and there’s a lot of potential with AST-Chapters.

 There are many challenges the AST board needs to address including: new models and content providers for educating testers; many testing conferences featuring practitioners (although few that offer conferring) and larger communities of practice where people can regularly engage. The biggest question is how does the AST adapt to this new world and accelerate our mission? 

Aside from these challenges a small improvement I’d like to see is more active engagement with members. 

 Q4. If you are elected to serve on the board, what is your vision for the future of AST and what do you hope to accomplish as part of the board?

Part of my vision for the future of AST is continuing to build upon the work we’ve done in training. See the above section called The Future. There’s a lot of work still to do, but it’s fun, exciting and valuable work. 

I also really want to expand and improve on our outreach. Part of this is going to be getting more contributors into the process (especially around Education). Part of this is just a greater emphasis on understanding what the context-driven community needs and trying to put people into positions where they can tackle it with the AST supporting them. 

 Q5. Many people come to be AST Board of Directors candidates through a long history of community involvement. This community involvement usually involves teaching, creating and running peer conferences, creating and running regular conferences, and working with commercial entities. Please describe any current initiatives you participate in that might affect your ability to serve on the AST board, and serve the AST membership.

Most of my involvement in the testing community is through or revolves around the AST and the context driven community. For example I teach AST-BBST classes, am involved in maintaining the coursework, host our webinars and handle as many tasks as I can related to running the organization (aside from my main Treasurer duties). I occasionally speak at events but in those I simply highlight the work we do at the AST. I don’t see any of them negatively affecting my ability to serve on the AST Board or it’s membership. 

 Q6. In what ways have you supported the mission of AST?

The AST’s mission is to advance “the understanding of the science and practice of software testing according to Context-Driven principles.”

In addition to being a member I support the mission in several ways: 

  1. Teaching software testing based on context driven principles. This not only advocates for an understanding and practice of CDT principles but helps me better understand both the practice and science of it.
  2. I write constantly using a context driven approach
  3. Interact and contribute to the wider community (including among non-CDT schools) such that I bring awareness to CDT principles. 

 Ultimately I do the best I can with what I have. =)

 Chris Kenst has been improving software quality since 2006 and is currently an Lead Automation Engineer at BloomNation in Santa Monica, CA. Chris is a Writer, Speaker, Blogger at, and Board Member for the Association for Software Testing. He’s been a Lead Instructor for the AST-BBST courses, hosts webinars and otherwise tries to contribute to the testing community. He also created and maintains an open source list of software testing conferences and workshops. You can find him online most places @ckenst.