The past few weeks have been hectic for me. Hell, the last 6 months have been.
And it doesn’t look to be cooling down though, with Test Sphere needing a lot of new and uncharted attention.

I take this time to reflect upon the two conferences I’ve had the pleasure of speaking at:
Test Bash Manchester and EuroStar 2016 in Stockholm.

Similarities

The goal for both conferences was to meet as many people as possible, participate in discussions and learn from them, see what the hot subjects are in Testing and introduce Test Sphere to as many people as I can.
I was alone for both, but knew people at each conference. This enabled me to move between groups, but also gave me a ‘safe place’ to return to when fatigue strikes.

I was going to participate in every meetup, every extra activity and fill the glass to the brim.


Test Bash Manchester

I drove up to Manchester. That’s a 10 hour travel from Belgium,but god, England is beautiful in Autumn. Even from the highway you can enjoy the orange-and-yellow branded leaves that fill the landscape.

Once I arrived at Old Trafford, I called Richard and he invited me to join him at a bar.
The plans he and Rosie have for Ministry of Testing are incredible and I couldn’t help but wanting to participate in it.

And that’s the beauty of Ministry of Testing and Test Bash. You feel like one of the organizers. It’s completely up to you: Step up, take any of the chances that are given to you and you’ll be supported by the community to do more and get to the next level.
Test Bash makes everyone valuable. It makes everyone feel like a part of something greater. A community of testers that feels inclusive, open and exceptionally warm.

I drove back in one stretch, arrived late in the evening but still felt energized to last for days. That’s what Test Bash does to me.


Eurostar Stockholm

It’s huge. There’s so much going on I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface.
I stayed in Stockholm for 5 days and try to do as much as I possibly could. But having to choose between 4 different talks left me feeling as if I was losing every time.

The talks I attended were generally very interesting and I’ve taken away quite a few explicit ideas for my day-to-day work and probably more ideas that aren’t as concrete, but will re-surface when the need arises. Especially Alexandra Sladebeck and Liz Keogh‘s talks and ideas resonated with me.

There are so many big names in testing speaking and attending that I was seeing stars. Because I wanted to spread the good word of Test Sphere and looked for a few apostles to do so too, I approached most of them and tried to convince them to do workshops with the cards.
These Testing Stars are incredibly friendly and always up for a chat. They are interested in what you have to say and will give you things to think about.

This is the big advantage of EuroStar over Test Bash: Tons of opportunities and there is a much broader reach.

But this has a negative side too:
There is a central hall where most time is spent. It’s filled with vendors and companies that seem completely disconnected with what’s being talked about in the sessions.
It is my interpretation that this central hall fixates on Repetition in testing and that most talks advocate for Diversity and Variation.
That frightens me. Especially as Jon Bach revealed 50% of the attendees of his talk considered themselves Test Managers.

The late night activities proved to be exactly what I imagined them to be. Good food, drinks, discussions, getting to know each other better and forging relationships.


To summarize

Test Bash made me feel at home, welcomed and valued. EuroStar gave me the impression I was certainly welcome but still a newcomer and was ‘on my way to become a member’.
Both feelings are good. One gives me a safe environment and the other challenges me.

I left EuroStar with many questions and things to consider, such as the state of our craft vs. the state of the testing market and why I want to become a speaker. Test Bash made speaking feel like a natural next step.
Asking questions and introspection are necessary, feeling encouraged is too.

Both conferences offered a ton of ideas to consider and many opportunities to act on. Workshops, collaborations, job prospects and possible sponsors for Test Sphere.

And to the question of “why I signed up to become a speaker in the first place?”, the answer is: People.
Anything I do and want to do well is because of my love for good and honest people.
I need that, in order to feel happy.
I want to move forward with teams and grow everyone around me by any means necessary.
To achieve this, I first have to meet all these wonderful people.

Such as Marcel and Ard:

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