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Community Spotlight Presents BJ Rollison

  • 25/10/2013
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  • Posted by EuroSTAR

The Community Spotlight is a feature on the EuroSTAR Blog which brings to focus those who matter in software testing industry in Europe – you, the members of the EuroSTAR Community!

We want to give you the chance to get to know more about your peers throughout Europe and share your own experiences, career highlights and some fun facts with the testing community by taking our Community Spotlight interview.

This Community Spotlight features BJ Rollison, BJ recently produced a webinar on ‘API Testing: The heart of functional testing’ at the EuroSTAROnline Software Testing Summit.


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Bj Rollison. My given name is actually William, but only government agencies (that I mostly despise) and my mother (whom I love dearly) call me by my given name.

2.Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, lived in Japan for about 13 years, and currently reside in Seattle, Washington.

3.Where do you work?

I work at Microsoft where I have been for almost 20 years. I currently work in the Windows Phone group on the foundations API test team.

4. Can you tell us how you got involved in testing?

I suspect like most people I stumbled into a career in testing software. I mostly taught myself programming while serving in the Air Force. Of course I had some good mentors along the way. After leaving the military I was a sailing bum for about 18 months while trying to figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up. Eventually, I started working for a small computer company in Okinawa, Japan building PC/AT systems from the motherboard up for small and medium sized business. I guess my early testing career was mostly around getting different hardware peripherals to play together nicely together. Adding an additional SCSI drive to a system might require a complete resetting of DMA and IRQ switches on the motherboard. I think in those days engineers had to know much more about the hardware systems than people do today. During that time I also became very interested in memory management. The Japanese OSes loaded so many terminate and stay ready programs (TSRs) the DOS and Windows 3.0/3.1 systems were quite slow. I eventually wrote some articles on how to optimize these TSRs on Japanese systems. In 1994 while visiting Canada I was interviewed at Microsoft and shortly thereafter accepted a job as tester on the Windows 95 International team and have been hooked on software testing ever since.

5. How many times have you been to EuroSTAR?

Unfortunately not as many times as I would like. I have always enjoyed my EuroSTAR experiences and have met many people from around the world who share the same passion. It is a great venue for hearing new ideas, sharing experiences, and honing one’s knowledge in the craft of software testing.


6. What’s your favourite hobby?

I try to stay active and I am engaged in many activities. I truly love sailing. For me there is nothing more relaxing then stepping away from the concrete jungle and watching a sunset at anchor or sailing beneath the stars. But, sailing is not a hobby as much as a way of life. I also play ice hockey to stay in shape, and it is my favourite sport to play and watch. So, while sailing and ice hockey top my list of activities, I would have to say that philately is my favourite hobby. My great-grandfather got me started in stamp collecting decades ago, and it is a fascinating hobby that helps me learn more about the art, history, and various cultures of the world.

7. What would you have been if you weren’t involved in testing?

In our lives we are often presented with different opportunities and we must live with the consequences of the decisions that we make. I tend not to look back and wonder what I might be doing had I made a different decision. I can’t change the decision’s I’ve made in the past; I can only learn from the experiences resulting from those decisions and strive to forge my future.

8. Have you any advice to give to a young tester or someone just starting their testing career?

There are 2 pieces of advice I would give to someone starting their career in testing.
First, learn about the craft of software testing and continue to develop ALL the skills necessary to enhance your abilities in the continually evolving field of software engineering. There are many good books on the craft of software testing. I don’t always agree with everything I read, but I keep an open mind and I have learned something from each book I have read. Learn the fundamentals of the craft, master various techniques to improve your test design skills, and learn new skills as the field evolves and business needs change. There was a time when people could get by in the industry by being good “bug finders.” Those days are past and companies are requiring more from the people they hire as testers. Professional testers need to understand they have a much bigger role in a team, and should strive to have a larger impact on the business of software.
Second, don’t buy into the victimization of testers, or get mired down in pointless debates that tend to rage within the testing community from time to time. Most of that is noise. Most successful managers are numb to the noise, but that doesn’t make them dolts who don’t understand testing or product quality. Releasing software is a business. Crucial conversations focus on how we can improve the effectiveness of our testing efforts to provide the decision makers with the timely information they need to make day by day decisions, and how we can positively impact the efficiency of the team in the software development lifecycle.

9. What is your favourite motivational quote?

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.” – Albert Einstein

10. What has been your biggest software testing challenge so far?

The biggest challenge has been trying to stay on top of the ever changing landscape of software and to constantly learn new skills, knowledge and technologies to be productive and make a positive contribution to the product and the team. I have worked on several different technologies in my career, but I realize that I still have much more to learn and I must practice and experiment to continually hone my skills. Although some people seek me out for advice or guidance they should remember that I am still learning and gaining new experiences every day. I don’t claim to be a testing expert; I am just someone who is willing to share my experiences and I hope my experiences can help others succeed in their endeavours.

Connect with BJ Rollison

bj_rollison_66x100Twitter: @TestingMentor

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