The Value of Attending TechWell Conferences: An Interview with Mike Sowers

[interview]
Summary:

In this interview, Mike Sowers, CIO and president of SQE Training at TechWell, explains what goes on at TechWell's different software testing conferences like STARCANADA. He details the different topics you’ll learn about, the speakers, and the types of presentations you can expect.

Jennifer Bonine: Welcome to our first interview for our STAREAST Virtual Conference. I'm so excited to have Mike with us. Mike, thanks for joining me.

Mike Sowers: You're very welcome, Jennifer. It's always great to be back with you.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah, this is exciting. So, some of you may have tuned in for the first keynotes this morning. I hope those were good. Mike, did you get a chance to catch any keynotes?

Mike Sowers: I did, yeah. I thought the first one was great. Second one's always great. So, really very, very exciting. Kicking things off.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah. It's good to be back and have the event. For those of you not here, obviously, we have record attendance again. So, lots of folks around here, lots of great energy here in Orlando. Why don't we, for the folks maybe that haven't had a chance to meet you, Mike, give a little bit of background ... there's an event, if people haven't seen it yet, called STARCANADA.

Mike Sowers: Yes.

Jennifer Bonine: And you happen to be the program chair.

Mike Sowers: Yeah. Lucky me! I'm the program chair for that event. But, you know it's always a challenge putting together the events. Lee Copeland does such a wonderful job, particularly here with STAREAST, STARWEST, and our other events. Somehow my CEO thought I wasn't doing enough. He said, "Can you wear another hat? How about taking on the STARCANADA event?" But, it's a privilege, you know, as we grow and expand our STAR events and we get more and more interest in software testing from people around the world, really.

Jennifer Bonine: Exactly.

Mike Sowers: There's more demand. So, as a result, we need more subject matter experts that can do that programming. So, I guess I was in the wrong place at the wrong time or something. But, you know. But, it's a privilege to be able to do that and work with some great speakers.

Jennifer Bonine: So, for folks that don't know your background, you have a very extensive background in the software industry and have done a lot of different things. So, what I think is fun, when you see these programs get put together, you know, maybe give them a little bit of your background and some of the things that you've done, 'cause I think that weighs in probably a little bit in the perspective of how you architect the program, what things you think are top of mind for executives, that type of thing.

Mike Sowers: Yeah, I mean it's always a challenge. I've had the privilege of just a fabulous software development and testing career. I mean, obviously there's been challenges along the way. But, I started as a hardware tester ...

Jennifer Bonine: Oh, wow!

Mike Sowers: ... in an electrical engineering environment. I was actually doing reliability testing for keyboards.

Jennifer Bonine: Wow, interesting.

Mike Sowers: That shows how old I am, basically.

Jennifer Bonine: Well, what's funny, though, is hardware testing has come back with IoT and other things, right? Where it's hardware and software together. So, it's getting very, very popular, and people ask all the time, you know, do you know anyone that has hardware testing and software combined? Right?

Mike Sowers: Exactly. So, I moved from hardware, then, and into software testing. And then I had the privilege really of working with some small, medium, and also large companies—not only being a tester, but also a testing leader. So, I had a lot of experience. Probably my most fun experience was managing a team of international QA and test folks—gee, nearly 400 people and eight different geographies.

Jennifer Bonine: Wow.

Mike Sowers: I thought, gee, you know, what a privilege to start as just a co-op student in testing and then be able to have the privilege of working with lots of great people and lots of great companies internationally. Basically, with that background and that subject matter expertise, I've got some idea, I think, of what, maybe, testers are interested in. But, you know, at our conferences we always poll people and see, and try to set the program up so that they know that we're trying to align the things that they're interested in with the program.

Jennifer Bonine: That are top of mind for folks out there, so all of you, for example. STARCANADA—so, a lot of folks out there may be familiar with STARWEST, STAREAST ... those programs. How long ago was STARCANADA actually developed, and how long has it been going? For folks that may not know.

Mike Sowers: Yeah. Our first STARCANADA event was in 2013, so this is our fifth year, from a STARCANADA perspective. We've been on both the west coast of Canada, out in Vancouver, and in Toronto quite a few times. So, we're very, very excited. And, you know, our great neighbors in Canada have some of the similar challenges that we have. All of us are trying to deliver software faster, better, and cheaper. The testing and the testing teams, the QA teams, the development teams, are always looking for new and innovative ways to do that. And Canada also has great technology companies—you know, banking, finance, gaming companies, e-commerce companies, social media companies ... and so there's a big installed base, if you will. There's a lot of people interested in the area of software testing.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah. Now, do you see—compared to some of the events, you mentioned a couple of the industries—are there, you know, a higher concentration of certain industries than others in Canada? Say, for example, versus here in Orlando when you see the conferences, or in California?

Mike Sowers: Yeah. I mean, certainly. Orlando's a little special, I think, because a lot of people like to come to Orlando because of the activities.

Jennifer Bonine: Right, right. Exactly.

Mike Sowers: So, it's more about everything you can do outside of the conference ...

Jennifer Bonine: The destination.

Mike Sowers: ... the destination. But, some of those other venues and areas, particularly in Canada on the west coast, so, the more technology centers.

Jennifer Bonine: Yes.

Mike Sowers: Right? And so you see those companies. The finance industry, insurance, health care industry, and so forth.

Jennifer Bonine: So, you start to see some of those. And then, obviously, so the timing perspective, if someone's saying, "You know what? I might be interested in this STARCANADA thing." When does STARCANADA take place? For folks that don't know.

Mike Sowers: Yep. You can find it on our website. You can either just search for STARCANADA 2017, or you can go to techwell.starcanada.com.

Jennifer Bonine: Perfect.

Mike Sowers: It's going to be October 15 through the 20 of 2017.

Jennifer Bonine: Perfect. So, great time of year to see Canada.

Mike Sowers: Not too cold yet.

Jennifer Bonine: Not too cold yet, so don't be afraid, for those of you who don't like cold. I live in Minnesota, it's not too cold yet. We have similar weather to Toronto. So, I can tell you it's not too cold yet, I promise.

Now, the host city this year, you've mentioned you've been on the west coast of Canada, moved into Toronto ... is it Toronto again this year?

Mike Sowers: Yep! Toronto again this year. You know, what I like about Toronto is, really, the food.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah.

Mike Sowers: You know, Toronto has a lot of great local food. Things like Thai food and burgers and burritos, and that kind of thing.

Jennifer Bonine: Absolutely.

Mike Sowers: Kinda my favorite thing. And lots of wonderful coffee shops and tea shops, you know, that are owned locally.

Jennifer Bonine: Locally owned.

Mike Sowers: Right? Locally owned.

Jennifer Bonine: Yep. Lots of locally owned.

Mike Sowers: So, just a really, really great and an active city. People are very active in this city, and athletic in this city. Of course, if you like hockey ...

Jennifer Bonine: Huge hockey fans.

Mike Sowers: Maple Leafs are there, and if you like culture, there's a lot of museums. The Royal Ontario Museum is there ...

Jennifer Bonine: Oh, yeah. That's a great one too.

Mike Sowers: ... as well. And then we can't forget CN Tower, which is that big tower ...

Jennifer Bonine: That everyone sees when you see the skyline.

Mike Sowers: ... fine-dining restaurant, 360-degree views. So, you know, besides the conference, there's a lot to do in Toronto.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, obviously a great location. Again, Toronto, the film festival takes place there. So, there's quite a few restaurants that have been, that we saw last time that we were there, that were actually created by directors, actors, things like that that come to town. So, the director of Ghostbusters and some of those movies has a restaurant there, and you can go see some of the memorabilia from the movie, for example.

Mike Sowers: Right. Exactly.

Jennifer Bonine: So, really neat things in that town. So, if you're thinking Toronto, it's a great place to go. Now, getting into what people will see if they go to STARCANADA, on the program. So, how did you kind of create the program for this year, and was there kind of a main theme you were driving towards in looking at content from the feedback you had gotten last year?

Mike Sowers: Sure, yeah. Absolutely. I mean, of course we plan a couple years in advance for our venue, but just because we need to find the right hotel that can host us and so forth. And then we always look at the feedback forms. We're very ... feedback is very important to us at all of our STAR conferences, and so the first thing we'll do is to look for the feedback from those that have attended other STAR events and previous STARCANADA events ... and then begin to build our theme-ing around that.

In January we'll start to prepare our call for papers, and we'll send that out. We set up those themes, in particular this year it was around test automation, mobile, cloud, agile, big data ... you know, not any surprises ...

Jennifer Bonine: No. Been all things ...

Mike Sowers: ... I mean, those are all the key themes that are coming across.

Jennifer Bonine: ... that are important.

Mike Sowers: And then we ask for the proposals for speaking to be back in the March timeframe.

Jennifer Bonine: Okay.

Mike Sowers: Then we begin the arduous and very challenging task of filtering through all of the speaking proposals. We get lots of great ... I had over 200 proposals this year, which is really exciting. So, thank you for anybody in the audience who has submitted ...

Jennifer Bonine: Proposals.

Mike Sowers: ... session proposals.

Jennifer Bonine: So, to know if even if you weren't selected, I mean, there's 200 that came in, and then of the 200, how many slots are there?

Mike Sowers: Yeah, so we've got five pre-conference training slots, we have four keynote slots, we have twelve tutorial slots, then we have twenty-eight of what's called concurrent or one-hour session slots, as well as some industry technical talks.

Jennifer Bonine: Right.

Mike Sowers: Right?

Jennifer Bonine: But, when you add those up, right? That's not a huge amount compared to ... you're getting great volumes who don't ... people should not feel bad if they don't get selected, and we do encourage them, submit again.

Mike Sowers: Yeah, please do. We always tell them when we send them the feedback of not being selected, it may not be because it was a bad topic, or it was a bad submission, it's simply that we had so many submissions ... you know, we actually had the privilege of selecting sort of the best one on maybe the same topic.

Jennifer Bonine: Exactly.

Mike Sowers: Right?

Jennifer Bonine: Right.

Mike Sowers: So, I always encourage everybody to submit again.

Jennifer Bonine: Yes! So, stay persistent. If it didn't work this time, submit again, and knowing kind of that timeline I think is important, right? So, you start the process in January, everything is due by March, and then the event doesn't take place until October, right?

Mike Sowers: Exactly.

Jennifer Bonine: So, with the planning piece of this, if you're thinking about submitting something, you know, start early, start in advance, make sure you get your topics in, those types of things. Then, for the people that are selected, for the folks that have a concurrent session, do they get a pass to the events then?

Mike Sowers: Yep! Absolutely. We give them a free pass to the event and we also give them a discount if they'd like to attend any of the pre-conference training or the tutorials. And, quite often we do other special things for our speakers when they're at the conference. So, you know, it's a great thing. I always encourage to give back to the software testing profession.

Jennifer Bonine: Absolutely.

Mike Sowers: So, so important.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah. Well, and a great opportunity, right, to build their portfolio too and take that leap, if you haven't, of, you know, getting in front of people and sharing your story ...

Mike Sowers: That's right.

Jennifer Bonine: ... and giving back, as Mike said. And what's nice is, if you're struggling and maybe your leadership hasn't yet said, "Yep! Go attend a conference we can pay for that," at least this would help you in terms of the conference itself. That would get paid for if you end up being selected.

Mike Sowers: Exactly.

Jennifer Bonine: Which is great. Then, usually once you attend it's easier to get them to buy in, hopefully, for future years.

Mike Sowers: And it's really a two-part process. It seems like a lot, but on that front end between January and March, really all you need is your title and your description of your proposed session. Then after you're selected, then we would need your bio and your photo. But, we don't even need your presentation until September.

Jennifer Bonine: Right. So, you have time.

Mike Sowers: But, of course we have to get the program set early, so that we can market and sell the program, obviously, to attract people to your great talks.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah. Exactly. Which is perfect. Now, besides those sessions, you select keynotes every year. I know that must be challenging as well, to narrow it down to four folks that you want to select for those keynotes. I believe this year we have Dorothy Graham, Jeffery Payne, Isabel Evans, and Janet Gregory.

Mike Sowers: Correct.

Jennifer Bonine: Did I get them?

Mike Sowers: Absolutely.

Jennifer Bonine: Okay. So, those are the four keynotes. Some of you out there may have heard those names before in the testing community. Can you tell us a little bit more, maybe, about those speakers or the topics they're talking on, and what drove you towards selecting those as the keynotes?

Mike Sowers: Yeah. Absolutely. And I just gotta say that it's an honor and a privilege to have the STAR conferences as sort of the premier software testing conference in North America, maybe even in the world. Because of that, we have the privilege of selecting the best of the best. I mean, the top industry experts, right?

Jennifer Bonine: Are always here.

Mike Sowers: Right. They're always here.

Jennifer Bonine: And you get access to them when you're here.

Mike Sowers: Exactly. And sometimes, you know, there's a little bit of competition between the best and the best.

Jennifer Bonine: Right.

Mike Sowers: You know? Can I speak? Can I speak? You know, that kind of thing. So, it's a privilege to do that.

Jennifer Bonine: Yes.

Mike Sowers: But, on to the speakers for this year. Dot Graham ... maybe some of you know Dot. She's coauthor to a couple books. She's a great friend, long-term friend of mine. Dot and I met, I think, back in 1992 ...

Jennifer Bonine: Wow.

Mike Sowers: ... at our first conference. But she's going to speak to us about the test automation blunders, you know? Which I can really relate to, and maybe you can too. Mistakes we make, or have made during a test automation, and give us some advice on how to avoid ...

Jennifer Bonine: Those mistakes.

Mike Sowers: ... those mistakes.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah, which is great. We all like to learn from others who went before.

Mike Sowers: I love that term. You know, Dot's from the UK. It's the test automation blunders.

Jennifer Bonine: Right. And she'll say it with that beautiful British accent.

Mike Sowers: Yes. Much better than I could.

Jennifer Bonine: Yes, absolutely.

Mike Sowers: Right? And then, Jeff Payne, he's a leading expert in delivering secure applications using agile.

Jennifer Bonine: Yep.

Mike Sowers: So, he knows a lot about agile methods and has worked, of course, with a lot of clients, and he's a long time TechWell partner as well. I know you know Jeff, and have interviewed him ...

Jennifer Bonine: Oh, yeah. I love talking to Jeff ...

Mike Sowers: ... and talked to him.

Jennifer Bonine: ... because, he's so, his space ... So, we've been talking to Jeff for a few years doing these interviews, and it's interesting to watch over the years, people start ... the light bulb comes on, right? Around certain topics. What Jeff has always talked about around security, securing things in light of recent news events around IoT devices and breaches, Jeff's so relevant ...

Mike Sowers: Exactly.

Jennifer Bonine: ... in that space, and then figuring out how to still get quick to market and be agile, yet be secure.

Mike Sowers: Exactly, and he's gonna ...

Jennifer Bonine: Which, is what we have to worry about.

Mike Sowers: Yeah. And he's gonna talk to us on an interesting, I think, a fascinating topic, because you know when we're moving to agile, everyone's saying, "Automate! Automate! Automate!" I mean, it's all about automation.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah, automation.

Mike Sowers: Now, Jeff's actually challenging that notion a little bit. And we like that, we like to sort of mix it up and provide some different thinking, if you will.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah, which is great!

Mike Sowers: And, he's going to challenge the notion of needing to automate everything.

Jennifer Bonine: Right.

Mike Sowers: And finding the right balance between automation and manual testing. So, I think that will be a great ...

Jennifer Bonine: Oh, that will be a great topic.

Mike Sowers: ... a great keynote.

Jennifer Bonine: I'm excited about that one. I can't wait for that one.

Mike Sowers: And then Isabel Evans. Isabel also is from Europe. She's gonna speak about testers and testing managers on leadership and how to be great leaders, and mentors, and coaches ... and talk a little bit about our leadership styles. Our interaction styles.

Jennifer Bonine: That's great.

Mike Sowers: So, that's kind of a personal development topic, as opposed to a technical topic.

Jennifer Bonine: Which is good. I always think you should mix that in for folks too, right?

Mike Sowers: Exactly.

Jennifer Bonine: Technical skills are so important, but your soft skills and more your leadership and EQ skills are so important as well for testers, because we interact so much more now with everyone in the community. So, it's good to have those mixed in and have the opportunity to grow those skills.

Mike Sowers: That's right.

Jennifer Bonine: So, it's great.

Mike Sowers: Then, our final keynote is Janet Gregory, and many of you may know or have read Janet Gregory's books. She's coauthored a lot of books with Lisa Crispin on agile and agile testing. And, you know, as we move into agile, more and more team members that are not professionals or trained testers are being asked to do testing.

Jennifer Bonine: Absolutely.

Mike Sowers: So, she's going to speak to us about the skills and the attributes that anyone that does testing needs.

Jennifer Bonine: Great. Oh, that's a great topic too!

Mike Sowers: Regardless of whether or not you're a tester.

Jennifer Bonine: Yep!

Mike Sowers: So, I think we've got a great diverse set of keynotes that are going to speak to everybody, both from a soft skills development type of thing ...

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah. Personal development.

Mike Sowers: ... but also some hard technical topics.

Jennifer Bonine: Oh, that's great! I love this lineup! This is exciting! You're getting me excited!

Mike Sowers: Okay, good!

Jennifer Bonine: I can't wait! Now, those are the keynotes. So, for the tutorials, what are you thinking are some of the hot tutorials? Now, just for people who haven't attended an event before, the keynotes are forty-five minutes long?

Mike Sowers: Usually run almost an hour ...

Jennifer Bonine: An hour.

Mike Sowers: ... you know, probably each speaker finishes right around fifty ...

Jennifer Bonine: Fifty minutes.

Mike Sowers: ... fifty minutes.

Jennifer Bonine: Okay, so forty-five, fifty-minute time frame so, you know ...

Mike Sowers: And those are in general session.

Jennifer Bonine: ... kind of a burst ...

Mike Sowers: Everybody's together for the keynote.

Jennifer Bonine: ... burst of information. Now, the tutorials are the longer sessions, right? So, you're going to get those deeper dives, more in-depth. So, the topics that kind of are plaguing your mind that you really want to get some experience in and spend some time on, these are those longer sessions.

Mike Sowers: Exactly. Those will either go a half-day, which is about three, three and a half hours, but if you include the break, it's about a three-hour thing. Or, a full-day tutorial.

Jennifer Bonine: Right.

Mike Sowers: So, you get a pretty deep dive, to your point, Jennifer ...

Jennifer Bonine: Yep.

Mike Sowers: ... on specific topics. We also have pre-conference training even before the tutorials, so if you're looking for some training days, like certifications, that type of thing, or topics such as performance testing and so forth, so you'd want a day or two or even three of training before that, we'll have those.

But, as far as the tutorials go, we've got topics like, again, agile, mobile, Selenium, we have a full-day tutorial on Selenium.

Jennifer Bonine: Now, is the Selenium one hands-on? Will they be doing any practical experience with Selenium?

Mike Sowers: Yes. In that particular tutorial, Jeff Morgan, who you know, Jeffrey Morgan ...

Jennifer Bonine: Cheezy.

Mike Sowers: ... most people know him as Cheezy.

Jennifer Bonine: I know! I was like, you referred to him as Jeff Morgan, and I'm like, has he rebranded himself?

Mike Sowers: Right! No, he rebranded himself as Cheezy.

Jennifer Bonine: Right! There we go. Okay.

Mike Sowers: But ...

Jennifer Bonine: He'll be there.

Mike Sowers: ... Cheezy will be doing his full-day tutorial on Selenium, which is hands-on. We actually ask those who are attending that tutorial to pre-load information, to bring their laptops, and you know, doing real work, hands-on.

Jennifer Bonine: So, that's great one for those of you out there who say, you know, "I've heard of this stuff. I maybe haven't played with it, or I've played with it, but I want some help." That's a great opportunity to get someone to answer your questions, do the hands-on piece ... that's awesome. That'll be great for folks. So, if you're thinking you need that, that's good.

Mike Sowers: Then we got a security tutorial, tutorials on test automation, leadership, as well as measurement and metrics. That's a tutorial that I'm actually doing.

Jennifer Bonine: Oh, always a hot topic. Right? So, how do we measure ...

Mike Sowers: How do we measure?

Jennifer Bonine: ... yeah.

Mike Sowers: How do I report my progress? Quality measures to key stakeholders, how do I know I'm done? Those types of things.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah. It's interesting, right? Those types of topics persist through changes in the industry. No matter what changes, you always are being asked, how are you measuring it, what are the metrics you're tracking, how do I know if it's successful?

Mike Sowers: Exactly.

Jennifer Bonine: So, always good topics to get an update and a refresher on.

Mike Sowers: Yeah. And then, there's just one more. There's just one more tutorial, right? Jennifer is going to do a session for us on innovation in testing. Which I think, Jennifer, is so critical.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah.

Mike Sowers: Because sometimes as testers, at least when I was a tester and a testing leader, I would get stuck in my box and head's down, and I gotta get it done, gotta get it done, gotta ship the product, we have to get it tested ... and I don't take time to look around me for new ways to innovate.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah! No, and I think that's amazing. It was interesting when you talk about innovation, I was just looking at Amazon, and the Amazon CEO did an article in Forbes Magazine and he said, "We actually require that everyone in the organization once a month comes up with a new idea."

Mike Sowers: Wow.

Jennifer Bonine: Right? So, they actually require time to come up with those new big ideas, 'cause what he said was 80 percent of what we come up with may not work, or may fail, but it's the 20 percent that makes Amazon so successful.

Mike Sowers: Amazing.

Jennifer Bonine: Right? Like, you look at Amazon branched into the cloud and Amazon's version of the cloud. Who would've thought that was their space? But now they're taking over that market, and that's part of that innovation of, just because you're one type of organization today doesn't mean you won't evolve.

Mike Sowers: Yeah, exactly.

Jennifer Bonine: Right? And testers can be on the forefront of helping some of that innovation and evolution. So, I think it's exciting.

Mike Sowers: Yeah. So, we've got a great lineup of tutorials, I think.

Jennifer Bonine: Exciting stuff.

Mike Sowers: Yeah.

Jennifer Bonine: So, besides the tutorials, then we go to those concurrent sessions, right? That take place during the week, during the two days of those sessions. Now, those sessions, in comparison to the longer tutorials, are shorter again.

Mike Sowers: Yeah. Usually about fifty minutes ...

Jennifer Bonine: Fifty minutes.

Mike Sowers: ... fifty-five minutes. We encourage speakers to allow time for question-and-answer as well. So, it's not always ...

Jennifer Bonine: You get to interact.

Mike Sowers: ... just one way. Yep.

Jennifer Bonine: Yep. That's perfect. So, what are some of the hot things that you picked up this year around some of those concurrent sessions, or that you think will be ... any popular new tracks that we're gonna see?

Mike Sowers: Yeah. So, twenty-eight concurrent sessions. Those happen after the keynotes. I've got my list here, because it's a longer list, but we're going to talk about performance testing, we're going to talk about mobile test frameworks, which I think is an important ...

Jennifer Bonine: Oh, yeah.

Mike Sowers: ... topic. A lot of people moving to mobile and needing to know how to actually test it. We're going to talk about test coverage, testing RESTful web services, is another ... that's not sleeping web services ...

Jennifer Bonine: No. That doesn't mean they're sleeping.

Mike Sowers: ... that's the name of those web services. We're going to do a session on test design, which is sort of a ...

Jennifer Bonine: Interesting!

Mike Sowers: ... an advanced test design topic.

Jennifer Bonine: Oh, that will be interesting.

Mike Sowers: Another speaker's going to give us some information on how to develop great test scripts, which, I think ...

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah! Who doesn't want to do that?

Mike Sowers: ... will be of interest. And then we're going to talk about how to leverage big data in our testing, and then of course, let's not forget Jennifer is going to give us a session on using mind maps to create great test strategies.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah, which I'm excited about, too, for visual learners. A lot of us are visual learners, so that will be fun too.

Mike Sowers: Exactly. So, really good tutorials ...

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah! That's a great lineup!

Mike Sowers: ... or, excuse me, session lineup.

Jennifer Bonine: The session lineup is amazing. So, some really great sessions that we'll see there. Let's not forget, so you can basically come early, get your training in, go to some tutorials, go to the keynotes obviously, go to the concurrent sessions, and then we wrap up the week with some exciting events on Friday.

Mike Sowers: Yeah, absolutely. On Friday, my great friend and colleague, Alison Wade, she has a passion for women ...

Jennifer Bonine: Yes.

Mike Sowers: You know, unfortunately, Jennifer, men still outnumber women in technology.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah, I know.

Mike Sowers: So, Alison has taken it upon herself, and working with many other women such as yourself and others, to provide a platform and a specific event on Friday just for women.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah. Which is amazing.

Mike Sowers: Yeah. To talk about software testing, to talk about some of their career development challenges, to talk about ... you're gonna do branding, I think, personal branding ...

Jennifer Bonine: Yep. Personal brand.

Mike Sowers: ... for them, and to discover their own career superpowers.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah.

Mike Sowers: That event is included with your conference admission.

Jennifer Bonine: Which is amazing! So, you get a whole other extra bonus day.

Mike Sowers: A whole other day, right? Just with women to talk about women's issues.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah, and it's a magical event. Alison started it a couple years ago and it's been so popular that it keeps coming back, so I'm excited to see it again. Then, maybe, let's just wrap up ... as we wrap up, the time goes so fast ... favorite thing about STARCANADA that you want to share?

Mike Sowers: Well, I think it has to be any STARs, but certainly STARCANADA, it has to be the people.

Jennifer Bonine: The people.

Mike Sowers: When you have that many people that are bringing such diverse backgrounds from a technology and from an industry perspective, and a lot of those people have actually had particular issues or challenges, but they've got solutions to those. So, the networking opportunity is just tremendous when you have so many smart people with that wisdom and knowledge ...

Jennifer Bonine: All in one place.

Mike Sowers: ... all in one place.

Jennifer Bonine: It's amazing.

Mike Sowers: So, it's engaging and re-energizing ... very energizing.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah. That's the one thing I would say out of these conferences when people attend them here live in person is, is I hear a lot, "I'm going back renewed. I'm going back energized." It just helps us all to see, we're not struggling alone, you're not the only one facing those challenges, you have peers that are facing similar things, and it's great to get that energy from all of them and feed off of that.

So, I encourage all of you to attend STARCANADA. Mike, thanks for doing this and ...

Mike Sowers: You're very welcome.

Jennifer Bonine: ... sitting here and talking to us about the program. It sounds exciting. Everyone, check it out. And we'll let you guys head back in for the next keynote session. Thanks for joining us.

Mike Sowers: Thanks, everybody.

Mike SowersTechWell’s CIO and president of SQE Training, Mike Sowers has more than twenty-five years of practical experience as a global leader of internationally distributed test teams across multiple industries. Mike is a senior leader, skilled in working with both large and small organizations to improve their software development, testing, and delivery approaches. He has worked with companies—including Fidelity Investments, PepsiCo, FedEx, Southwest Airlines, Wells Fargo, ADP, and Lockheed—to improve development approaches, increase software quality, reduce time to market, and decrease costs. With his passion for helping teams deliver software faster, better, and cheaper, Mike has mentored and coached senior software leaders, small teams, and direct contributors worldwide.

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