2021 - A year in review
And just like that, it’s the end of the year again. While in my 2020 end-of-year review I expressed my hopes that this year would see the end of the COVID pandemic, unfortunately there are still a lot of restrictions (we’ve just entered another pretty strict lockdown…) and it doesn’t look like the end is in sight just yet.
Still, I’ve been lucky enough once again to not have been out of work at all this past year. Quite the contrary. A lot has happened in 2021, and as I do each year, I’d like to look back on what 2021 has brought me on a professional level.
The first 8 months of 2021
The year didn’t exactly start as I hoped.. Somewhere in January I sort of ran into a wall professionally. I had a lot of different things going on at the same time, lots of clients and their training requirements to balance, and that got the better of me, unfortunately.
It wasn’t a burnout, but I realized that if I wanted to stay sane, things needed to change. That’s why I decided to take the entire month of February off, apart from my ongoing development gig with TestProject, working on their C# SDK.
That did mean I had to end or bail out on some valuable partnerships, something I’m still regretting, because I had to go back on some promises, and I really don’t like doing that. At the time, though, it really was the only option if I wanted to avoid a bigger crash.
Where I was pursuing a full-time training business before, I then decided to go back to consulting, and only take on those training gigs that came to me directly through my network. In March, I started a very interesting role as a test automation consultant with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration, supporting their development teams (and they’ve got quite a few of them) with all things automation. I kept taking on the odd training gig, but other than that I had the time to fully focus on my consulting work.
That turned out to be the breather my brain needed, but it also started to make me think.. What is it that I really want to do in the next couple of years? I wrote those thoughts down in a blog post, and to my surprise, that resulted in quite a few people in my network reaching out to me.
Over June and July, I had a chat with about 10 different companies, not interviews, but just informal conversations that really helped me get a better understanding of what it is that I was looking for, as well as what’s happening in the wider testing and automation world. Thank you once again to all of you who took some time out of their day to talk to me. You’ve all been incredibly helpful.
One of the companies that got in touch was Inspired Testing, a South Africa-based testing services provider, with offices in the UK, too. I’d been in touch with them for some 3-4 years already, and in that time I’ve seen them grow and build their services and offerings.
They told me they were looking for someone who could help them build their academy and basically offered me that position on the spot. We had some more discussions and it soon became clear that this was an opportunity I just couldn’t say ‘no’ to. So I said ‘yes’, instead.
On September 1st, I started my position as their Director of International Academy, now called the Inspired Academy. Working together with the executive team, I’m responsible for building and delivering training opportunities for the Inspired Testing employees as well as our increasingly global customer base.
There’s a lot of things I still need to learn, as I’ve never run a team, let alone a department, before. So far, though, I really, really enjoy the job and working with a team of others to build something I can only describe as ‘bigger than myself’, for lack of better words. We’ve already released four new courses recently, and we’ve got some big plans for 2022 and beyond, all things I’m really excited about.
This commitment to building the Inspired Academy does not mean I will no longer be writing and speaking in public. Far from it, it is considered part of my job to do just that, so rest assured you’ll see me do webinars, talks and workshops and write blogs and articles just as I’ve been doing in the last couple of years.
I’ve already got the first couple of speaking engagements and workshops booked for early 2022. For an overview of the public ones, please have a look here, and if you’re a conference or meetup organizer, or if you’re looking for a speaker or workshop host for your in-company event, I’m always happy to chat about other opportunities.
2021 in numbers
To wrap up the overview, here are some numbers to quantify what I’ve been up to this year.
I’ve done quite a few training sessions again this year, although fewer than in 2020. That’s easily explained by my temporary going back to full time consulting which I mentioned earlier. Still, I end the year having done 55 training sessions:
- 25 full day sessions (3 in person, 22 online)
- 30 half day sessions (2 in person, 28 online)
My training clients were located in The Netherlands, the UK, Austria and Switzerland.
Additionally, I’ve done three conference workshops. These were at Heisenbug, TestNet (in person, which was great!) and HUSTEF.
In my 2020 overview, I expressed the hope of doing more public speaking, and I think it is safe to say that I’ve succeeded in that area. 2021 saw a total of 20 live talks, both in company as well as for meetup groups. Additionally, I’ve done 3 pre-recorded talks for conferences, and the one that stood out for me was the one at HUSTEF, where my talk on mutation testing won the best presentation award. A big honour for me.
The audiences for my talks in 2021 were in The Netherlands, Sweden, India, Singapore, Portugal, Austria, Russia, Turkey, the UK and Italy, all of them served from the comfort of my own office in the Netherlands. I really hope to be able to get back on a real stage again in 2022. My first keynote is already scheduled for the 2022 Test Automation Days, a talk I am really looking forward to.
Apart from these talks, I’ve also done 3 1-hour knowledge sharing sessions within Inspired Testing, something I’ll continue to do throughout 2022 every other week. Oh, and I’ve also appeared on two podcasts, which was really fun to do as well.
I’ve written far fewer articles this year compared to 2020, only 4 of them. You can find links to all these articles here. I did write more blog posts, though, 12 in total (including this one). I haven’t really had a lot of drive to write this year, with everything else that has been going on, but I hope to write at least another 10-12 blog posts in 2022.
All in all, it has been an eventful year, even with the lack of actual, live events… Happy to say that I’m in a really good position at the moment, and that I’m genuinely looking forward to what 2022 will bring for me as well as for the Inspired Academy.
But first, it’s time to unwind a bit. Have a wonderful Christmas and an incredibly successful 2022!"