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Community Spotlight Presents Seth Okai

  • 28/06/2013
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  • Posted by EuroSTAR

The Community Spotlight is a brand new 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 Seth Okai, Seth will be presenting a Track Session at this year’s conference on Proving The Benefits of Beta Testing – “To B Or Not To B”

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Seth Okai

Where are you from?

Born, raised and never strayed too far away from Newcastle (North-East England)


Where do you work?

RIBA Enterprises / NBS (Our brand – National Building Specification)
RIBA Enterprises is the commercial arm of the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) and as well as offices in other parts of England such as London, we have large offices in Newcastle (I’m sure you can see a pattern emerging about now).
I’m part of R&D (Research & Development) and manage the Public Beta testing for our software portfolio.


Can you tell us how you got involved in testing?

I took part in many Beta tests and early stage prototypes, PC, console gaming & other technology during my time studying business information technology (Nokia 3650, the one with the circular keypad – Google it and you’ll see why they wanted to test it). However it was in my role as an IT consultant that I got my first Beta testing assignment sourcing and managing test groups for EA Games products. Joined RIBA Enterprises for 6 months, wanted to stay and I’m still here 6 years later.


How many times have you been to EuroSTAR?

My first ever EuroSTAR was 2012 which being part of was a great honour and experience. Since then the EuroSTAR team have been keeping me sufficiently busy enough that I’ve developed the testing conference bug (pun intended but poorly executed). So I’m now furiously writing material, webinars and more to get my fix of test community events and discussion.


What’s your favourite hobby?

All things technological, research into new technology, movies & cinema, trying to learn things I just thought I should learn but serve little immediate purpose (e.g. Japanese and the drums but not necessarily in that order). I’ve only just started to learn to play so I’ll have to pass on any Jam sessions on conference evenings (for now).


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

I’d be working in a laboratory somewhere. If I hadn’t gone down the technology route it would have been the other sciences. In fact I did a bit of a U-Turn in my 20s when I realised my heart was really in technology exploration and testing.
Find a fault in testing and you celebrate that it didn’t make it out, find a fault in a lab and you could be informing your next of Kin.


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

Chances are you’ve been a tester for longer than you’ve been getting paid for it. I recently tweeted

“Professional testing isn’t just a job, it’s a lifestyle. How many of you tried to shatter a shatterproof ruler at school?”

Point is we’ve been testing things in one way or another since birth but there’s always something new to learn no matter how long you’ve been doing it.
My advice is to keep an open mind, listen and share what you know.


If you could do a project with one other tester/developer/programmer who would it be?

A slightly unrealistic wish to have been involved with the world team that introduced us to the massive computer networks which later became the internet. With now over 2.4 Billion users across the planet, that would have been the never ending project and the Mother of all Beta tests. It has now become a living, breathing beast of its own that isn’t owned or controlled by any one individual or company. If it had been and now nearly 30 years on, I doubt they would have reached Release Candidate 1 yet.
Being denied that wish, I’d settle for Google’s Gmail Beta from more recent times as a unique lesson in viral testing.


If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you like to have with you?

Assuming I’m stranded alone (quick disclaimer there as not to upset the loved ones for not including them in the 3 things):
A solar panel for power
A laptop with a copy of Windows 98 to keep the old testing skills tuned
And possibly the Large Hadron Collider to not only research and keep me occupied but to also rouse the suspicions of inhabitants of any nearby landmass to the point they want to send in covert operatives to investigate.


What is your favourite motivational quote?

The first one that springs to mind would have to be from the late Steve Jobs.

“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.”

Some liked what he did, some didn’t but my opinion is that the theory is sound. I used this quote in my EuroSTAR 2012 Webinar as it is a perfect example of the methodology I use. From requirements to delivery and maintenance, keeping this in mind can’t hurt.


What has been your biggest software testing challenge so far?

Taking Beta test methodology to the masses. So many in the community want to bring this to their business and come up against challenges. Hopefully I can offer a light at the end of the tunnel which isn’t the express train heading in their direction. I’m in a very privileged position in my current role as I’m given the opportunity to explore, research and expand Public Beta testing with the support of the organisation. What community members have been happy to hear is that it wasn’t always that way and that I’ve had challenges to overcome just as they face now.

I wish you a successful career in testing.

Connect with Seth:

w20 - seth okai webTwitter @nbsbeta


YouTube (all access videos, coming soon)

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