In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re highlighting the contributions and expertise of the many talented women in the worldwide testing community. We recently asked for nominations via Twitter for women to feature, and Julia Pottinger’s name came up frequently. We sat down with Julia to learn about her experience as a woman in testing.
Growing up, Julia Pottinger never had much access to computers to know if she was interested in them. As a child in her native Jamaica, she remembers using the computer at the Parish Library to do the occasional project and get things printed. Then, in high school, Julia learned how to program in Pascal. This sparked joy for her and prompted her to pursue a career in computer science. The rest, as they say, is history.
While she was working on her degree, Julia saw a flyer on the wall advertising an internship. That internship at QualityWorks changed the course of her career. During her interview with QualityWorks founder Stacy Kirk, Julia was asked how she would test a well-known application. “While I didn’t know the right terms and had never done testing as a career, I suppose I had an innate sense for quality. This was the beginning of the journey for me, and if not for that internship, I probably would have taken a different path in IT.”
Today, Julia is still employed at QualityWorks, now as Training and Development Manager, where she leads and organizes training around testing and consulting best practices. “Learning is a continuous process. As consultants, we keep learning so we can continue to provide advice to our clients and create meaningful solutions,” says Julia. She frequently speaks at events throughout the testing community and loves doing so because it starts conversations around software quality.
We asked Julia what it means to her to be a woman in testing. “Representation matters,” she says. “For me as a woman in technology, I have a duty to advocate for other women and help guide them in their careers. Showing by example, encouragement and applicable tips that they too are technical and have a unique voice that needs to be heard and will make a difference. Everyone is unique and that means the way you test and experience accessibility, usability and perceived functionality of an application are influenced by that uniqueness. To really create inclusive technology we need those different voices, perspectives and experiences.”
Julia says that when she first started out, she was often the only woman in the office. Over time she has seen that change in the world through advocacy and through representation by women and allies. “First, I had to start advocating for myself, building my voice and recognizing my worth,” she said. “I am now in a position where I can advocate for others and I am looking to have more women in tech.”
One thing Julia truly loves is to help others grow and advance in their careers. She is particularly proud of the Agile Testing Bootcamp that she leads for QualityWorks, of her course on Test Automation University, and proud of her advocacy for members of her team when it comes to their personal and professional growth.
Julia has been particularly influenced by Stacy Kirk and Angie Jones, both of whom have helped her learn and engage in the testing community. She also recognizes the Ministry of Testing as an incredible source of knowledge that has helped her expand her testing mindset.
She advises other women to find a community—and to be their own strongest advocate. “This takes work and you have to build your confidence to do so and self-esteem to believe you are deserving of more,” she says.
Julia will be speaking at SauceCon 2021, coming up April 20-22, 2021. Her talk will focus on “Moving Forward with an Effective Test Automation Strategy.” “I chose this topic as I see a lot of people and companies seeking to implement test automation, but they haven’t set a proper foundation for it,” she says. “A test automation strategy is a key part to getting a good return on investment with test automation.”
Her talk will help attendees identify why they want to do test automation, understand the importance of having an automation strategy, and create an automation strategy that will ensure a higher ROI along with better coverage and reliability. To learn more about Julia and other speakers at SauceCon, check out the agenda.