Gwen is standing for election to the AST board 2023.
I like to tell people that I’m a coffee fueled dreamer with a quality problem. I’ve grown up with quality in my blood… whether it was cleaning toilets or building custom cabinets as a kid, to developing complex enterprise solutions in my adult life. I hold a MS in Information systems from the University of Utah but the really interesting story is how I got to that point. Now, with 20+ years in the global technology delivery and quality space across a multitude of domains, for me, it always comes back to quality. Quality is this beautiful mix of understanding psychology, a deep understanding of systems, and curiosity that I’ve had a natural affinity for since I was very young. It’s been the underlying theme in every role I’ve served in, every initiative I’ve led.
I’ve had the honor of leading quality and delivery strategies and teams for everything from small startups to Fortune 500 corporations operating on a global level across eCommerce, healthcare, fintech and education domains. I love collaborating through tough problems and coming out the other side with clear answers that lead to outcomes. There is a kind of magic that happens in those moments and for me, it’s the difference between doing testing as a job and building extraordinary teams that achieve quality outcomes. I’m excited to have a larger impact on this community that has been so good to me over the years and excited to play a bigger role in AST’s future success.
1. Please share your vision for the future of the AST, and how would you help to accomplish this vision in case you were part of the AST Board of Directors?
Today more than ever we are facing endless challenges in the quality community as industry drivers and technology scope continues to increase. Frankly, I think one of the biggest challenges we have is in finding practitioners who truly understand the point of Quality and testing and are exercising critical thinking skills to sift through the bias and really understand the customer’s needs and then align those to what is being delivered and aligning quality strategies with business goals in a way that demonstrates value. We get caught in the day to day activities of doing our job instead of focusing on the why and thinking of better ways to get better results. Unfortunately this means that organizations end up investing less in quality.
AST’s role in this is huge. I see AST raising the bar for what it means to practice quality. for advocacy, for adoption of innovative ways of testing that push the boundaries of what others have done before us. It means a return to critical thinking, a return to becoming lifelong learners, and a return to advocating for strategies that add tremendous value to organizations in ways we haven’t seen historically.
My vision for AST’s future is one of increased competency in the testing community, engagement and advocacy not only with quality practitioners across all domains (including the new ones that are just starting to show themselves) and creating a space that challenges testers to question their own practices, their own assumptions and pushes them through thoughtful dialog, events that target their domains… the problems that they are experiencing every day, and support them in tackling the challenges that face us as we enter this new era of technological advancement that is rushing at us with the dawn of AI, Web3, the Metaverse and beyond.
2. 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?
I don’t believe a lot of testers know AST exists… For those of us that have been associated with it for years we know it and we love it, but historically most of AST growth has been tied to word of mouth. I struggle every time I need to search for it and find event information. One of the things I think we need to do is look at how practitioners are finding us and put together some strategies around engagement… we need to have a better presence in the larger technology community as quality experts and demonstrate that with ongoing content, ongoing opportunities to connect and share information, have discussion around different topics and grow together outside of just CAST.
3. In what ways have you supported the mission of AST?
I would say I have and continue to be an advocate for quality and have continued to mentor and utilize the community that AST has provided in coaching and helping drive career development of my teams. I’ve participated in panels quite a few years back and have developed lifelong relationships with thought leaders I have met through your events that I continue to collaborate with as things come up. That said it’s not enough… I know this and as someone that has devoted the majority of my career to practicing quality I feel a responsibility to the discipline and the community to help drive the next era of innovation. This is me getting more skin in the game and walking the walk. 🙂