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Community Spotlight Presents Zeger van Hese

  • 24/05/2013
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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 Zeger van Hese who was Programme Chair of the 2012 EuroSTAR Conference and is also one of the 2013 EuroSTAR Community Leaders.

1.Name:

Zeger Van Hese

2.Where are you from?

I am from a tiny beer & chocolate factory called Belgium. I grew up in a town with a rich history (going back as far as the 2nd Century) called Dendermonde (which is in the Dutch speaking part) and I still live there.

3.Where do you work?

I recently became independent and started my own company, Z-sharp, providing all kinds of testing services and testing training.

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

I’ve been involved with testing stuff and people’s patience since I was born, but you probably mean professionally? Let’s call it a simple twist of fate. I didn’t study computer science or anything programming-related; I have an educational background in economics and cultural science (majoring in theatrical science). In 1998, I was working in the movie distribution business. Seriously underpaid, but a great job for someone fascinated by the 7th art. I would probably still work in that kind of area if the movie distributor didn’t go bankrupt. It was an excruciatingly slow process – not a very pleasant experience.
Physically drained and with my last money, I decided to go on a last-minute trip to Florida to get my batteries recharged. The day I came back, I was cleaning up a pile of old newspapers when suddenly a job posting bit me in the face. It was a vacancy for a “software engineer” that was several weeks old (the job posting, not the software engineer). It said something about “start working in IT” and a “5-week training course in the US”. The US! I was still in a US state-of-mind, so I immediately called the number which belonged to a company called CTG. The posting was still valid, they said. I applied, and a week later I was on a plane to Buffalo, NY – home of the spiciest chicken wings in the Northern Hemisphere.
I ended up doing a couple of COBOL programming jobs. Those were the days, walking with dinosaurs! I don’t remember anymore whether the acronym stood for “Completely Outdated, Badly Overused Language” or “Compiles Only Because Of Luck”. A year later, CTG was short on testers for a testing assignment. I was willing to get out of my not-so-very-big comfort zone, said yes, and haven’t looked back since.

5. How many times have you been to EuroSTAR?

That would be 6, and 7 if I cheat and also count this year’s conference in gothenburg (where I will speak again, yay!). My first Eurostar was in 2006, Manchester, as an attendee, and it rocked my testing world. I discovered the wondrous world of software conferences, and a community that I wasn’t aware of – it inspired me to share my ideas and try out presenting myself. I managed to get a presenting track in 2007 and 2009 (didn’t get selected in 2008), and to my surprise ended up winning a best paper award on both accounts. In 2010 and 2011, I became more involved with the conference as an online ambassador, which culminated in being the programme chair for the 2012 edition in Amsterdam. Which, I must add, was an extraordinary experience .

6. What’s your favourite hobby?

At the moment, entertaining and trying to educate my two vivacious daughters (aged 9 and 6) takes the better part of my time. In the time that is left, I enjoy playing the guitar, reading, running, going to concerts, movies and theatre plays, photography and travelling. And ooh, I like software testing conferences as well.

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

Easily fooled.

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

The only person in charge of your career is yourself. Don’t depend on others. If you have a passion for learning, reach out to the community (get on twitter, start a blog) – there’s many of us who are willing to mentor and coach, give pointers to good starting points for learning. Do what you enjoy, and enjoy what you do. Attend testing conferences. Warning: your life might never be the same again.

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

There are too many people I admire and look up to, so singling out one person wouldn’t feel fair

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

My wife and kids! Oh… you mean like “thing” things? Assuming that I’ll finally have all the time in the world: a big library, a lifelong supply of sunscreen (hey, I’m fair-haired after all) and some matches to light that rescue fire when planes come looking for me.

11. What is your favourite motivational quote?

One phrase that helped me immensely over the last couple of years is something I heard Jerry Weinberg say when I was attending his Problem Solving Leadership class: “It doesn’t have to be this way”. This is now my mantra when I find myself in situations that I don’t like. You always have a choice.

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

Being a test manager for a project where the information of our testing kept getting transformed, filtered, skewed into meaningless metrics that were in turn used to take important business decisions. I was there to help them, but I felt like a worker in a weapon factory. Needless to say, I wasn’t there for a very long time.
I still vividly recall reciting the mantra to myself at night: It. Doesn’t. Have. To. Be. This. Way.

Whether you are a long-standing member of the European software testing community or someone relatively new to testing, we’d like to hear your story and share it with the Community of software testers.

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