Lalitkumar Bhamare 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

Well, considering that AST is for the international software testing community, I would not just promote diversity but also propose to actively promote inclusion within AST (if it is not happening already). I believe what AST is already doing to support diversity must continue e.g. supporting the SpeakEasy initiative (now TechVoices) in a variety of ways. 

Beyond that, I would expect AST to lead by example i.e. to have its board and top management be diverse and inclusive enough. Other than that, there could be something like DI-SIG (Diversity and Inclusion- Special Interest Group) that would actively work on promoting and ensuring diversity and inclusion within AST. AST runs multiple initiatives, the conference, and this group could involve itself early enough in everything that AST does to support those initiatives with all things diversity/inclusion.  

I would also insist not to promote diversity only for the sake of it but rather for making a true difference. AST supports local meet-ups, has grant programs and scholarships. I would propose to extend those to support diversity and inclusion efforts. I would also urge the great community of AST to come forward and offer mentorship to those in need by whatever means possible. 

In my opinion, giving opportunities is not enough. Mentorship (if needed), appreciation, and acknowledgment are equally important. I would propose AST to do that within the organization and also within wider testing and technology communities. Maybe AST could start awarding/recognizing testers who are doing a great contribution to the community and make them feel noticed and valued? 

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

If the expectation is to provide a vision statement then I would say – 

To make AST’s BBST program time-relevant by its content and international by intent i.e. with multiple language support, reaching out to broader audience geographically, and including instructors from various backgrounds (language, culture, skills and so on).

Please allow me to elaborate on the rationale behind my vision – 

  • The primary reason why I mentioned inclusion along with diversity in my answer above basically comes from my experience as BBST instructor for multiple years. Therefore, part of my vision for AST’s BBST program would be to make the student’s learning experience as positive and fulfilling as possible. The nature of BBST courses is unique and can be challenging for some students for different reasons. BBST program enrolls students from various countries and timezones, speaking different languages, having different cultural backgrounds, and personalities shaped by their surroundings. As an instructor, I have observed students struggling to be included, closing off with the fear of judgment, fighting with their inner shame of not feeling as bright as other students are (who probably are native English speakers or have had some kind of privilege which helps them learn faster or perform better). And that certainly impacts a student’s learning experience. What if AST actively starts assigning instructors/facilitators too who can closely identify themselves with student’s backgrounds or can at least empathize with/ understand their struggles? And for that, I would strive for onboarding the instructors from various part of the world, who would speak the language of the student (in case they need help with understanding something), who would notice the cultural barriers impacting student’s participation in class and help to address those somehow. 
  • I already admire the ongoing effort of updating the syllabus of the courses and my vision would be to keep the content as time-relevant as possible in the future too. 
  • Helping BBST to expand its reach to broader audiences and geographies will certainly be on my agenda. I believe there is still not enough awareness about AST’s BBST program which is keeping testers away from benefiting from it. One possibility is that BBST courses and the literature are only available in English. And that apparently, blocks AST from reaching a broader audience. My vision would be to try and see if this can be changed for the better.  
  • As far as I know, sometimes even enthusiastic testers are a bit reluctant on taking BBST courses because of the time commitment they require. Part of my vision would be to find alternatives if the format could be made a bit easier on time commitment, without having to impact the effectiveness of the courses. 

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

I am familiar with AST for more than a decade now and I can confidently say that AST has played an instrumental role in taking the craft of testing forward in a meaningful way. And that could hardly happen without active involvement and support from the board. I believe taking CAST beyond the Americas was one of the things I liked personally. Supporting local meet-ups, diversity chapters, offering grant programs, involving worthy testers as volunteers on different forums (like CAST conference), starting remuneration program for BBST instructors as well as this initiative of revising the syllabus are some of the things done in past by AST board, which I admire. 

Since I am closely associated with BBST courses (as a long time instructor), I think a remuneration program for instructors could still be brainstormed to make it more attractive and be designed in such a way that instructors and co-ordinators would feel compensated in ways that they can closely relate to. I believe some attempts around it were made in the past which apparently could not work out for technical difficulties. It won’t hurt to revisit it and see if something can be done about it though. 

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?

I could be wrong but the firebrand that AST used to be in previous years seems to have lost its luster. Reasons could be many and may not lie within AST itself. If I am elected to serve on the board, my vision for the future of the AST would be to make it a go-to place for testers from all levels of the career and expertise and geographies and operating contexts. I would like to see AST as a home/research center for thinking testers who want to take ahead the craft of testing philosophically, technically, and in ways that complement change drivers of the industry (domains, technologies, and methodologies). 

As a part of the board, I hope to first onboard fellow board members (and members of AST) with my vision, listen to their ideas, and create a collective vision. Prioritize the top three things to achieve during the period and to try to accomplish those with utmost sincerity. 

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.

I started my professional testing career almost a decade ago and since then I am an active member of the global testing community. Tea-time with Testers which is the magazine I started back in 2011, has published several articles from the testers across the globe. Tea-time with Testers gave voice to the community of thinking testers when it mattered the most. The contribution I have made in the global testing community as a Cheif Editor and Co-founder of Tea-time with Testers magazine (by collaborating with authors, thought leaders, and working with novice testers alike) has been my biggest one so far, I would say. 

Through my magazine, I got to closely work with almost all known testing experts in the industry and most of those have been active contributors to AST too. My connection with the global testing community through the magazine and other initiatives are some of my key assets.  

I have been actively participating in local testing meet-ups, have long experience of speaking at the testing conference, doing international keynotes, and conducting workshops. I also have considerable experience in organizing local meet-ups/conferences/online-offline events. Setting up and directing Testing CoP, Intellectual culture of testing in organizations I work for, is my niche. 

I have been teaching BBST foundations classes with AST from quite some years as a Lead Instructor. I have taught an in-house version of Rapid Software Testing course during my tenure at Barclays and I regularly assist James Bach with his RSTA, as a peer advisor. 

I have published several blogs sharing my learnings and findings surrounding testing. I have been on expert panels discussing testing on multiple occasions. 

The State of Testing survey which I have co-founded with Joel Montveliksy, around seven years ago, has been playing its role in studying the state of the testing profession. 

Currently, I am involved with ConTEST NYC 2020 conference as its Program Chair. I have been closely associated with organizing and executing the Tribal Qonf 2020 conference that has become the talk of the global testing community recently (for all good reasons). 

For more details of my community contributions, I would request the readers to please visit ––talks.html 

All in all, I would say that I am active in my mission of improving the state of software testing. My dedication to the advancement of software testing has now become my hobby due to the enjoyment and satisfaction I gain from my efforts. And I believe my rich experience of this community service/involvement on different levels and forms would help me serve AST in the best possible way. 

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

I became part of the Context-Driven Testing community about a decade ago and since then everything I have done in my career as a tester, is very much aligned with AST’s mission I.e. advancing the understanding of the science and practice of software testing according to Context-Driven principles.

I preach what I practice and my philosophy, practices of testing are significantly influenced by Context-Driven principles. I have done this by leading by example. Also by collaborating with testers in the global testing community (who are not only inspired by CDT principles but also have made a significant contribution to the community itself) and publishing their articles through Tea-time with Testers. 

I have been an active member of AST for many years, have been teaching BBST foundations courses with AST. Through my conference talks, workshops, interviews, and publications, I have made conscious efforts to take the testing craft ahead in my way. Spreading more awareness about AST’s BBST courses and recommending testers to consider taking the courses is something I have been doing voluntarily, from years. 

I can confidently say, my entire work as a professional tester and every contribution I have made in the testing community has been inspired by Context Driven Testing principles which is what the mission of AST is primarily about. 

Lalit is a critical thinker, a professional software tester for over a decade. He currently works at XING as a Senior Test Engineer. He is the Co-Founder and Chief Editor of popular software testing magazine “Tea-time with Testers” and also the Co-Creator of the Global State of Testing survey project.

He is a software testing and quality coach, international keynote speaker, and with his passion for taking the testing craft ahead, he has selflessly contributed to numerous initiatives in the global software testing field over the years. To know more about his work, please visit ––talks.html