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QA Spotlight: An Interview with Manil Kapoor

Qa Blog

Manil Kapoor is a consultant that has done a lot of work as an automation engineer, as well as a test and release manager. Manil plays a key role in organising Ministry of Testing events (since 2020), while also volunteering with Summer of Tech. He enjoys spending his time mentoring so he is an incredible resource, not just for new testers, but those further in their careers, too.

Looking to move into contracting? How is the market shaping up? How do you go about upskilling? With a wealth of knowledge of all things QA, Manil recently spoke to me about some of his experiences:

​1. What trends have you been noticing in the testing/QA world recently? Do they mostly revolve around ideological changes or mostly just focus on tooling?

Over the past decade, testers have directed their focus toward acquiring expertise in test automation, as it is a field with abundant job opportunities. Consequently, investing in learning testing tools has become the obvious choice.

In parallel, the underlying software systems have become increasingly intricate, demanding testers to enhance their skill sets. For instance, testers are expected to have a fundamental understanding of cloud platforms like AWS or Azure and be capable of analyzing pipeline failures, among other technical aspects.

While proficiency in testing tools may aid in securing job interviews, achieving success in the role necessitates a testing mindset. It is valuable to gain a strong foundation in testing principles through various resources such as books or certifications, tailored to individual preferences. Subsequently, this testing mindset, combined with the acquired tools and knowledge, can empower testers to become more effective in their roles.

2. As the market tightens up, is there anything you’ve done or would recommend people work on to upskill?

Human nature often drives us to seek reasons to work harder and improve. As a result, I have found the following techniques to be consistently beneficial:

  • If you have previously interviewed for a position and did not succeed, it is essential to engage in self-reflection to identify the specific skills that may be lacking. These identified skills should be the primary focus of your improvement efforts. They may include hard skills like developing test frameworks, creating test pipelines, conducting mobile testing, or performance testing. Additionally, soft skills such as stakeholder management, clear communication, test planning, and strategy development should not be overlooked.

  • Another approach to upskilling involves creating a plan within your current job that aligns with providing enhanced value to clients or customers. By retrospectively assessing areas where you can contribute more effectively, you can identify specific skills that need to be developed. This proactive approach enables you to simultaneously enhance your value proposition and embark on a journey of personal upskilling.

  • Engage in local and global Tech/Testing Meetup groups to stay informed about the latest trends in testing and technology. Embrace the opportunity to dive deep into practical experiences. For instance, don't hesitate to roll up your sleeves and get hands-on with projects. For instance, you can experiment with ChatGPT to create a test automation framework and verify if the code functions as intended.

3. As someone whose current career is mostly contracting, what are some tips you’d give people who are looking to move into contracting?

  • Consider pursuing a long-term contract for your initial contracting experience to ensure peace of mind. Adjusting to the contracting mindset may take time, and having a long-term contract provides stability and security during this transitional phase.

  • It is advisable to have a minimum of six months' worth of fixed expenses saved before venturing into a contract job, considering the possibility that the contract may not be extended.

  • Prior to accepting a contract job, it is important to consult with an accountant to gain a clear understanding of the financial responsibilities associated with such a position, including obligations like GST payments and provisional tax.

  • Remain attentive and engaged while working in a contract job. Actively network and engage with individuals from the client organization to gauge the company's current financial stability. Assess whether the project you are involved in is considered a top priority for the business, as lower to medium-priority initiatives/projects are more susceptible to budget cuts.

4. Also, from a contracting perspective, what do you do in a market where contracting works slows down?

In a slow contractor job market, where fewer roles are advertised, the significance of networking becomes even more pronounced. When encountering such a situation in your current contract, it is crucial to engage in discussions with your manager and agency (if relevant) to evaluate the prevailing conditions. Drawing from my personal experience, the following measures have proven beneficial:

  • Strengthen your online presence by sharing your work and ideas on professional platforms. This can help showcase your expertise and attract potential clients.

  • During a slowdown, clients tend to be more cost-sensitive. To remain competitive, consider adjusting your rates accordingly, ensuring they align with the market conditions.

  • Instead of succumbing to panic, embrace the slowdown as an opportunity for self-improvement. Invest your time in enhancing your skills and knowledge, allowing you to emerge stronger when the market picks up again.

  • Remember that market fluctuations are a natural part of the contracting industry. Stay positive and maintain a strong work ethic, as it is your professionalism and dedication that clients will remember and appreciate.