2023 - A year in review
Yes, it is that time of the year again: the days are short, cold and (especially this year) particularly rainy, and it is time to look back on what 2023 brought me, professionally, as well as look ahead to what I would like to focus on in 2024.
The most valuable lesson I have learned in 2023 is that I get the most joy out of working with others, be it individuals, teams or entire companies, and help them improve their automation efforts. I also learned that the key word here is ‘help’, as in: I don’t enjoy a role as ‘the tester’ or ‘the automation engineer’ in a team so much anymore.
This is the reason I’m saying goodbye to the team I’ve worked with since March of this year, and to my role as the tester / automation engineer in their team.
In 2024, I am going to focus on further building and improving my business in four areas:
I have not been too actively promoting my training business in 2023, basically taking ‘what was thrown my way’: working with recurring clients and people reaching out to me with their training needs. This led to me running:
- 8 full days of training (6 on site, 2 online)
- 33 half days of training (22 on site, 11 online)
- 3 free public workshops, with a fourth one scheduled for later this week
- 5 conference workshops
This is down significantly from 2022, and I’m hoping that by more actively promoting my training offerings, as well as through a partnership I’m about to start with a training provider, I can get these numbers back up to 2022 levels, or maybe even a little bit beyond those.
Apart from the above, I also (finally!) published a new Test Automation University course, my second one, this one covering BDD and SpecFlow.
Early in 2023, I experimented a little with offering mentoring sessions to individuals, but I soon noticed that, even though they were enjoyable and provided real value to the mentees, they were hard to schedule and combine with other activities, which led to me abandoning the offering. I’m probably not going to reinstate them in 2024.
What I am going to try and do more, though, is expand what I call my ‘corporate mentoring’ service. Somewhere around May of this year, a manager from a domestic bank reached out to me based on a referral (yay, network!) with the question of whether I wanted to help two of their testers grow into automation engineers.
I’m wrapping up six months of working with them by the end of the month, and the results and growth I’ve seen in them have been amazing. They have advanced from ‘I don’t know what to do and where to start’ to engineers that can confidently write, run and review test code without supervision. A great return on a significant investment. Read this blog post if you want to learn more about my experience with them, and the reason why I think ‘corporate mentoring’ works so well.
I’ve been calling myself a ‘consultant’ for a while, and it has been part of my job for a long time, but as I said earlier in this blog post, it is time for me to move away from ‘doing the work’ as an engineer and ‘helping others do the work better’ as a consultant. That doesn’t mean I intend to produce slides instead of code from now on, far from it. I’m still enjoying the hands-on coding part of my job part way too much, but I’d like to dedicate my time and efforts towards enabling others to do better.
The consulting engagements I’ll be looking for in 2024 can come in many forms, from advising on first steps to take towards introducing test automation (I’m wrapping up a gig like that just this week) to facilitating a hackathon to help teams take the next step or untangle a testing or automation puzzle (I’ve run those in the past and really enjoyed them), or something else. What they will have in common, though, is that they’re:
- Part time
- Short term
- Focused on obtaining a very specific, well scoped result
If you would like to work with me in 2024, let’s have a chat.
Without doubt, one of the highlights of this year was being given the opportunity to travel to Canada for the KWSQA Targeting Quality conference. Canada is one of my favourite countries in the world, and I’ve been wanting to revisit for a while, so I’m very happy that I managed to do just that. As you can read from the experience report, I thoroughly enjoyed the trip, the conference and meeting so many friendly people.
Overall, I am happy to report that this year, I’ve done about the same number of talks as in 2022, 22 in total. 18 of those have been online, and (only) 4 on site. For 2024, I’m hoping to grow the number of talks and especially the percentage of those talks being on site.
I’m also looking to travel a little more often for conferences and on site training or consulting gigs. I really enjoy being able to do that as part of my job, and now that my kids are getting a little older, it becomes easier for me and for the family to be away from them for a couple of days.
Next to a couple of trips I’ve got lined up already (one to EuroSTAR in Stockholm in June as a programme committee member) and to another conference in Europe for a workshop, I’m also hoping to extend my streak of doing at least one intercontinental trip to three years in a row (South Africa in 2022, Canada in 2023). Things are looking good already from discussions I’m having at the moment, but I’m definitely open to more opportunities. I’m especially keen to pay a visit to Japan, Malaysia or New Zealand for a conference or a consulting or training engagement.
I started 2023 writing a weekly newsletter, and while I enjoyed doing that, and feedback was generally positive, the ‘pressure’ of having to come up with fresh content every week got the better of me, and I abandoned that. All newsletter issues have been posted on my blog for everyone to enjoy.
I’m hoping to get back to regular writing in 2024, especially around API and contract testing and API security testing in particular, but I do not want to commit to a specific number of posts or a regular schedule right now.
Apart from small contributions to several open source projects, most of my time spent developing has been going to RestAssured.Net. I’m still really enjoying working on the library, and I’m especially happy to see the slow but sure rise in people and teams starting to use it for their API testing efforts in C#. I’m sure that 2024 will see a couple more releases with new features and bug fixes.
That’s it for 2023! Time to wrap up some projects and then wind down a little after a very productive and exciting year. Have a wonderful Christmas and here’s to a successful 2024!"