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A QA Q&A With Ryan Bevens

About 2 years ago By Potentia

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Now that our QA Community Manager, Ryan Bevens has his feet firmly under the desk, and has been supporting the placement of talent in both perm and contract roles, we thought it was well overdue to introduce and unleash this value to Potentia's extended network:

Who is Ryan

Ryan brings over 17 years of QA industry experience across various SaaS and Enterprise companies. Having worked in both Fortune 50 companies as well as several startups, he understands a variety of needs in these environments. With over 5 years of leadership experience, he has been on both sides of the interview table. When he isn’t at work he spends most of his time with his wife and two children, ages 10 and 8, but also enjoys jamming on his guitar, playing video and board games, or just curling up with a book and a cup of tea.

What does Ryan bring that’s new

Ryan has a love of the testing and QA world and it shows in the highly qualified individual people he brings to you. He also brings years of mentorship and coaching experience, which he has already been using to help those he has placed. With a wealth of industry knowledge, he can help with current information and leadership support as required to you and your partners.

Get to know Ryan some more

What first got you into QA?

I had an assortment of odd jobs prior to and during my time at university, one of which was working in the mortgage industry in the US. After I graduated with my philosophy degree, I had a friend that knew a software company looking for someone with business knowledge in that industry. I developed my love of testing in that space and the rest is history.

What’s more fun, Start-up or Enterprise?

I will answer in the way that all QAs tend to start their answers: it depends. Start up cultures tend to be fast, high impact, and quite creative. But you need to wear many hats and it can be an exhausting space to be in as, quite often, you never really ‘turn off’. Enterprise culture tends to be a bit more relaxed, stable, and established. But if leadership doesn't create an environment of innovation it can often feel a bit stale and stagnant. Obviously, these are a bit stereotypical and I’ve seen a lot of great ways that companies have worked to overcome these things, but that is the initial thought I tend to have. Where you are in your career and in your personal life definitely has an impact on where you want to work.

What trends have you seen in the QA market in the last year?

I like that people are starting to put more of a lens on automation and ask about its value and its uses. I’ve seen the cycle of automation go around several times in my career already so it is nice to see that the questions are changing a bit now. The QA community is remembering that automation is a tool, not a solution. There is more evaluation of what they want it to do and where the benefits are. Instead of merely saying ‘Automation is the answer’, there is more of ‘How can automation help solve the question?’

I’m also seeing all the fun and different ways that people are trying to say ‘bring QA in earlier in the process’. Obviously agile methodologies have been trying to do it for a while, and people have started using ‘Shift Left’ or its other variations but at the end of the day it is all about getting into people’s heads that the quality of product increases the more conversations you have before you start coding. It is important to get the right people in a room to talk over potential issues. QA’s primary functions of risk assessment and asking questions to dig deeper often help in that function.

What’s more beneficial, Manual or Automation?

This is always an interesting discussion as you are seeing more and more pushback on even using the term ‘manual’. As a former manager and now working in the recruitment space, I understand the need to have some way of differentiating between people who value playing around in systems and asking questions and those that prefer to use tools to solve boring, repetitive work that no one likes to do. Both are valuable if used correctly. Any tester without the right information and the right mindset will be swimming in the dark. A manual tester that doesn’t know what is happening until the code is delivered will only have so much impact. An automation engineer who is just writing end to end tests without knowing the purpose of those tests will muddy the waters. Both have their uses when you take time to evaluate and plan.

Why did you decide to go into recruitment?

One of the main things I have loved in the various places I’ve worked is helping people with their career through coaching and mentorship. I enjoy helping people figure out how to make things more efficient in their processes and other ways they work. When I first started having discussions about recruitment I was quite honest in the fact that I personally have not had a lot of good experiences with recruiters. QA is an odd space if you don’t really understand what we do. Through my various conversations with people at Potentia and the idea of a community lead, I had a thought that maybe this could be a different way to help. While sceptical, I’ve come to find that we really value relationships quite high here. Our measure of success is less around the numbers game and more around how we’ve helped. This allows me the space to be able to talk with candidates about their needs, not mine. I can have real conversations with hiring managers around what they are really looking for and not just a job description. I’ve written job descriptions and I know how you can’t paint a real picture of what you need that way. It is just a piece of the puzzle, so it is nice for me to be able to put everything together.